Native Heroes 2022 – The Santa Barbara Impartial


Native Heroes 2022

The Impartial’s Annual Nod to Our Unimaginable Neighbors

By Ryan P. Cruz, Leslie Dinaberg, Callie Fausey, Tyler Hayden, Matt Kettmann, Nick Welsh, and Jean Yamamura | Pictures by Ingrid Bostrom

Illustration by Alex Drake

A sea captain who untangles whales. A lawyer who helps moms in want. A lady who provides consolation to these affected by loss and despair. A boy who sells rubber geese to avoid wasting deserted animals. These are simply among the Native Heroes of 2022. Their tales are tales of compassion, neighborliness, philanthropy, and kindness. 

Each Thanksgiving, since our first subject 36 years in the past, the Impartial has celebrated excellent individuals equivalent to these we’re honoring this yr. And yearly, our readers ship us nominations of individuals whose work makes Santa Barbara County such an incredible place to dwell. Many of those heroes have by no means obtained recognition till immediately.

The workers of the Impartial thanks all our Native Heroes previous and current for his or her work, and our readers for nominating them. We’re grateful to all who make Santa Barbara County such an incredible place to dwell. 


Ana Maya

A Serving to Information to Households 

Ana Maya | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

It’s truly stunning that Ana Maya has the identical variety of hours within the day as everybody else. As director of the Household Useful resource Heart on the Isla Vista Youth Venture, Maya does every little thing from educating native households on totally different social packages to serving to them achieve entry to important providers throughout arduous instances and even offering them with clear diapers. However most significantly, Ana Maya listens.

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Maya believes that the energy she gained from overcoming the challenges she confronted in her personal life has helped her develop an empathetic fondness for working with households in want. Maya, a mom of seven youngsters, approaches every little thing she does with compassion, respect, and a hardworking angle.

“It is vitally essential to me to construct relationships and connections with individuals locally. I assist households by listening to them, assembly them the place they’re, and offering sources primarily based on their wants,” she mentioned. 

Maya’s important objective is to lend a serving to hand to Santa Barbara’s households, however her job is a balancing act. The numerous hats she wears embody educating parenting lessons (in each English and Spanish), holding immigration seminars, dealing with knowledge reviews, internet hosting vaccine clinics, and offering free meals and diaper distributions for the group. 

She is understood for going above and past for her purchasers, and households come from so far as Ventura and Santa Maria to satisfy along with her one-on-one. However Maya emphasizes that she doesn’t do that alone. “I’ve an excellent staff that works very arduous to run all these packages and occasions with care and keenness.”

“That is arduous work, and it does truly weigh on me at instances, however the stunning and superb half  is when individuals thanks, once you see a smile on their faces, and once you see that they respect you,” Maya continued. “Then I say to myself, ‘Sure, that is price it! That is what I’m speculated to be doing.’”


Chuck McPartlin

Ambassador to the Stars

Chuck McPartlin | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Chuck McPartlin was a graduate scholar at UCSB when he went 50/50 together with his buddy on a telescope. The good friend wound up hating it, however McPartlin fell in love, so he had the yard all to himself to “hunt faint fuzzies” within the sky. He had enjoyable, he mentioned, however up to a degree. “It was a bit like stamp amassing,” he defined. “There was nobody to share all these fantastic issues with.”

This was the late Eighties. McPartlin thought-about becoming a member of Santa Barbara’s astronomy membership on the time, however their conferences interfered together with his bowling night time. Then he heard from his spouse, Pat, concerning the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU) hosted by our Museum of Pure Historical past. When he gave an illustration at a close-by retirement group, he realized how rewarding it was working with the general public. “I had a blast,” McPartlin mentioned.

For greater than three many years now, McPartlin has held a few dozen occasions a month as SBAU’s outreach coordinator, lugging his telescopes to varsities, campgrounds, purchasing malls, and numerous different websites throughout the county, inspiring curiosity and marvel and no scarcity of “oohh”s and “aahh”s as he goes. “It’s enjoyable to see the children’ faces gentle up,” McPartlin mentioned. Conversations about present occasions are additionally widespread, whether or not it’s NASA’s latest mission to redirect an asteroid or the unbelievable new photographs being beamed again from the James Webb House Telescope. It’s no stretch to say McPartlin gives among the most broadly accessible and thrilling science training anyplace in Santa Barbara, with Pat nearly all the time at his aspect.

Only recently, after McPartlin gave a chat at Carpinteria State Seashore, a younger lady approached him. She mentioned she remembered his jokes from a stargazing occasion when she was 8 years outdated. She’s now finding out astrophysics in faculty.


Eleni Pantages

San Marcos Choir Director

Eleni Pantages | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Like all gifted music lecturers, Eleni Pantages admits she’s a little bit of a dictator, albeit a benign one. Yearly for the previous 5 years, Pantages has directed the totally different choral ensembles at San Marcos Excessive College, coaxing, cajoling, and galvanizing the perfect from her college students. That’s the identical faculty Pantages herself attended. It was there she was turned on to the refined magic of vocal ensembles. Her personal teacher, Carolyn Teraoka-Brady, prodded her musical prices. “She by no means allow us to simply get by,” Pantages recalled. “She had actually excessive expectations. And I responded nicely to it.” Certainly she did. 

Pantages additionally grew up in a musical household. One grandfather was an opera singer who sang “God Bless America” at a San Francisco Giants recreation in his eighties. Her father sang within the Santa Barbara Choral Society. Prolonged household gatherings, she recalled, resembled big jam classes. Pantages began off taking part in violin at age 6 however shifted to voice — choral music, choirs, and madrigals — in highschool. By faculty — USC — she was performing repeatedly. As an alto, Pantages can transfer severe air, as her checklist of movie credit attest. She sang in two Star Wars movies — VIII and IX — and nonetheless expresses pinch-me pleasure about performing underneath the baton of John Williams, a composer well-known for the epic sweep of his cinematic scores. As a musical director, Pantages takes subject with the nostrum that some individuals can sing and others simply can’t. “If you wish to sing,” she insists, “you may be taught.” 

As a vocal director with 80 college students underneath her tutelage, Pantages is legendary for her beaming smile and exuberant enthusiasm. Each Friday, her singers take turns expressing one thing good and one thing not so good that occurred up to now week. This train, generally known as “Rose and Thorn,” helps foster a closeness that’s mirrored in efficiency. “Each individual is essential; we’re all a part of a staff,” Pantages says. “Nobody is sitting on the bench.”


Dave Beezer

Angel to the Whales

Dave Beezer | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Dave Beezer is aware of whales. And plenty of of them know him. 

Beezer, the longtime captain of the Condor Categorical, Santa Barbara’s premier whale-watching boat, is considered one of a handful of individuals in California who’re federally skilled and authorized to disentangle the massive cetaceans after they get wrapped up in marine particles. After conducting lots of of those rescue operations, Beezer is ready to acknowledge most of the whales he’s helped save, usually by the crisscross of scars on their our bodies. “It’s actually cool to see them swimming again by means of the Channel,” he mentioned. “Particularly mothers with calves.”

Untangling a whale is even tougher than it sounds. And it’s harmful. Only a few years in the past, a person was struck and killed off New Brunswick, Canada, moments after he minimize one free. Beezer and his staff of volunteers strategy every case cautiously. Earlier than they make their cuts, they comply with the whale and, with the assistance of a drone, examine the configuration of the tangle. Ideally, it is going to take only one or two. 

The whales are confused and scared, Beezer defined, and attempt to evade the rescuers. Grey whales are particularly cautious; humpbacks are a bit extra accepting. As soon as a plan is in place, they launch an inflatable boat from a “mothership” — domestically, it’s NOAA’s Shearwater analysis vessel — and use carbon-fiber poles fastened with specifically designed knives to snip the traces. Up to some dozen individuals could also be concerned. Not each rescue try is profitable, however many are. After which the reward is nice. “These are very smart mammals dying a sluggish, painful dying,” Beezer mentioned. “It’s solely proper we attempt to assist them.”

Sometime quickly, Beezer hopes to transition to saving whales full-time, maybe even forming a fast response nonprofit with a ship on a trailer, all the time on the prepared. “I’ve been fortunate sufficient to make a dwelling on the water,” he mentioned. “That is my manner of giving again.”


Esther Jacobsen Bates

Museum Visionary

Esther Jacobsen Bates | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Elevating the artwork choices at Elverhøj Museum of Historical past and Artwork in Solvang has been one of many highlights of Esther Jacobsen Bates’s nearly 20-year tenure on the helm of this charming gem of a museum, which has remained free to the general public because it opened in 1988. “I’m very pleased with the best way the museum has been capable of assist native artists,” mentioned Bates, who has featured a really broad spectrum of labor, starting from artists who reside locally, equivalent to sculptor Wesley Anderegg and painter Seyburn Zorthian, to modern worldwide artists, in addition to famend historic artists, together with Rembrandt, the unique Dutch Grasp himself.

“What actually energizes me is every exhibition has its personal sort of vitality. It brings in numerous individuals with each exhibition we current on the museum. It creates a way of place and a way of connectedness,” mentioned the Santa Ynez Valley native, who labored with Ann Dittmer for greater than a decade of exhaustive genealogical analysis to co-author an in depth historic guide referred to as The Spirit of Solvang, which got here out in 2020.

“What I really feel like has been considered one of my greater accomplishments on the museum is rising the attention of all that Elverhøj has to supply. And that actually is now proven in our customer numbers, that are very strong,” mentioned Bates, who enjoys sharing the city’s historical past and tradition.

Her contributions to creating Solvang proud have been bumped up even additional just lately, when Elverhøj achieved a “triple inexperienced” milestone by transitioning to solar energy, incomes California Inexperienced Enterprise certification, and changing into considered one of solely 10 companies within the Central Coast area to satisfy the Sustainable Enterprise problem. 

She encourages individuals to return and take a look at the museum’s stunning new group gathering area, together with showcasing native artisans and crafters on the vacation makers markets on December 10 and December 17.


Elsa Granados

First Responder to Sexual Assaults 

Elsa Granados | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

When Elsa Granados took over what was previously generally known as the Rape Disaster Heart, she and her staff obtained about 300 to 400 calls a yr. That was 25 years in the past. Since then, Granados reckons the group now will get 600 calls a yr. Most individuals are coping with assaults that passed off two, 5, even 20 years in the past. “They wished to simply transfer on, to place issues behind them,” however that, Granados mentioned, is far simpler mentioned than accomplished. To assist, the group has three paid counselors and two volunteers to help survivors — and their companions —in  addressing cussed reverberations from previous trauma. Granados has one other 4 licensed disaster counselors who act as advocates for these going by means of the forensic journey of reporting an assault, having their our bodies swabbed, and answering questions from regulation enforcement officers. “We’re first responders,” she mentioned. “We work instantly with nurses and regulation enforcement officers.” 

Solely 12-15 p.c of all sexual assaults are reported, she famous. “What issues most to survivors is how different survivors are handled within the media,” she mentioned, “whether or not their character is impugned and their psychological well being questioned.” A number of years in the past, the Rape Disaster Heart opted to vary its identify to Standing Collectively to Finish Sexual Assault (STESA) on the identical time it was shifting from its authentic Milpas Road location. The owner at a attainable new constructing refused to even put the identify on the door. Then one other landlord refused — even after they’d signed the lease. Worse but, he made a rape joke within the course of. “Nobody was going to lease to us.” Therefore the identify change. The mission, nonetheless, stays the identical. So too does the secondary trauma skilled by individuals in Granados’s line of labor. “Self-care is extraordinarily essential,” she mentioned. “For me, I get out in nature as a lot as I can. I take a look at the great thing about nature.” 


Jina Carvalho

Lifesaving Helper

Jina Carvalho | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

When Jina Carvalho helped discovered the Santa Barbara Response Community in 2009 after a rash of native suicides, she leaned on her expertise with the Glendon Affiliation in offering really lifesaving sources when individuals of Santa Barbara are at their lowest factors.

“It’s okay to not be okay,” Carvalho mentioned.

Whether or not or not it’s pure disasters, murder, or suicide, the nonprofits each reply to incidents locally the place it is very important present “psychological first help” and assist people tackle trauma by means of a coalition of native sources.

“Deaths and different traumatic occasions set off large stress and anguish, not solely amongst rapid household and buddies, but in addition throughout your entire group,” she mentioned.

Lately, the S.B. Response Community, the place Carvalho is the chief director, has helped present providers through the 2014 I.V. shootings, Thomas Fireplace, 1/9 Particles Stream, and the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing masks to farmworkers and serving to tackle the rising results of psychological well being throughout isolation.

“Maintain individuals hopeful, as a result of the factor about isolation is it kills hope,” she mentioned. “Crucial factor is that folks really feel a way of belonging.”

Carvalho mentioned one of many tasks she was most proud to assist with was the addition to life-saving limitations on the Chilly Spring Canyon Bridge in 2012, which she mentioned have saved numerous lives within the years since.

Working so carefully with tragedy can take a toll on one’s personal psychological well being, and he or she tries to remain balanced by writing poetry, training yoga, or meditating every day.

“It’s actually essential to care for your self doing that work,” she mentioned.

The S.B. Response Community might be contacted at (805) 699-5608. Anybody involved about somebody who could also be suicidal can contact the nationwide lifeline at (800) 272-TALK.


Julissa Peña

Julissa Peña | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

The depressing U.S. coverage of separating youngsters from dad and mom on the southern border galvanized Santa Barbara attorneys and humanitarians to kind the Immigrant Authorized Protection Heart (ILDC) in 2017. Immigration regulation is an exacting specialty, and bringing collectively the wanted specialists has not been simple. Certified attorneys have been briefly provide. Many among the many ILDC group say it’s Government Director Julissa Peña who’s made all of the distinction in making the group a robust and efficient defender of these in search of asylum in the US.

Peña, who graduated from UCSB, beforehand labored as a paralegal and translator. “I usually carried the burden of dangerous information to kindhearted and hardworking households that they didn’t qualify for asylum. I heard the attorneys say over and over to remain underneath the radar within the hope the immigration legal guidelines would change.”

Since she joined the ILDC in June 2019, federal legal guidelines haven’t modified, however COVID exacerbated the state of affairs, particularly for kids, Peña mentioned, a lot of whom had been left with grandparents who handed away or are in any other case unprotected. “We have now an enormous sense of urgency to succeed in these youngsters. They solely have a lot time to answer the immigration courtroom; in any other case, they are going to be eliminated in absentia.” As many as 1,100 youngsters are on the ILDC’s radar within the tri-counties. Through the years, ILDC, with the assistance of a hardworking fundraising committee, has been ready so as to add skilled attorneys and immigrations specialists, however the workload continues to be huge. 

“The general public on our waitlist are girls and youngsters,” Peña mentioned. Many ladies have fled to the US to flee home violence. “We’re pressured to determine who’s probably the most weak and who wants probably the most safety.”


Katie Davis

Local weather Guardian 

Katie Davis | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Katie Davis and her household moved to Summerland in 1970, the place the primary offshore oil wells within the nation have been drilled. She was only a child on the time, one yr after the notorious 1969 oil spill, however by 2012, she was coaching with Al Gore on the fact of local weather change. Her identify has now grow to be synonymous with Santa Barbara progressives’ battle to finish fossil-fuel manufacturing within the county.

Davis labored for a Santa Barbara start-up within the Nineties and was grateful for the corporate’s flex-time choices, as she had two youngsters who crystalized for her what the longer term held.

She and her husband did every little thing they might to lower their carbon footprint. “We put photo voltaic panels on our home,” she recalled. “I feel I purchased the 7,000th Nissan Leaf produced. I advocated at our co-working area and arranged volunteers to work on an internet site with NOAA on ocean acidification.”

Davis started providing her local weather change presentation to teams in Santa Barbara, together with the Sierra Membership. “That regularly took over my life,” she mentioned. The Sierra Membership went from being a climbing group to an important accomplice for nonprofits just like the Neighborhood Environmental Council (CEC) and the Environmental Protection Heart.

She recalled visiting each metropolis councilmember with Michael Chiacos of the CEC to speak about 100% sustainable vitality. “The great factor about that strategy was as cities started to do it, California noticed the momentum. Now now we have President Biden saying the nationwide objective is for 100% clear vitality.”

Assembly local weather objectives this decade is essential, she mentioned. “There’s a pathway, however it issues rather a lot what we do now. Will the environment heat in a manner we are able to cope with or will it spiral uncontrolled? The following decade actually issues.”


Kelly Cottrell

Bringing Coronary heart to Artwork

Kelly Cottrell | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Goleta native Kelly Cottrell began volunteering at Alpha Useful resource Heart when she was nonetheless a school scholar, beginning full-time in 2012. In January 2020, she took over the administration of the nonprofit’s Slingshot/Alpha Artwork Studio, a devoted area for people with mental and developmental disabilities to have entry to an artwork studio and the world of positive artwork.

Quickly after she started operating Slingshot, “The entire pandemic sort of got here crashing by means of,” Cottrell mentioned. “I used to be actually getting a really feel for my function and this system, then abruptly it got here to a screeching halt, and I needed to change gears.”

Relatively than having everybody come to the studio, Cottrell and her staff started delivering artwork provides and assembly individually with the 35 artists presently enrolled, outdoor or on Zoom, and offering assist in any manner they might.

“I suppose the blessing in disguise is that by means of all that, I bought to know the people rather a lot higher. And I used to be capable of construct some relationships with households that I won’t have in any other case, being of their homes. … That’s not sometimes what we do, however we actually got here out stronger for it,” mentioned Cottrell. 

Whereas issues are getting again to regular programmatically, Cottrell just lately took on one other big process: shifting Slingshot and all of its gear to a brand new location.

However the brand new constructing will enable Slingshot to serve a bigger variety of artists with a greater variety of skills. “Lengthy-term, considered one of my private objectives is to usher in extra artists with extra vital, extra noticeable, extra extreme disabilities, and get them included as nicely,” mentioned Cottrell. “And I’m actually excited to see how we tackle that want.” 

The general public is invited to go to the brand new Slingshot studio on Saturday, December 10, from 1-5 p.m. at 1911 De la Vina St., Suite B.


Marco DiPadova

The Budding Entrepreneur

Marco DiPadova | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Marco DiPadova was simply 11 years outdated, a scholar on the small however mighty Anacapa College, when he got here up with a quite good manner to assist animal shelters. It was the early days of the pandemic, and rescue organizations have been amongst these hit hardest by the lockdowns and a sudden cease in giving. DiPadova determined to design and promote rubber geese — as a result of who can resist a rubber duck? — and donate 100% of the income to locations like Santa Barbara’s BUNS (Bunnies Urgently  Needing Shelter), ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and WWF (World Wildlife Fund). 

However right here’s the place DiPadova’s knack for entrepreneurship actually kicked in — he gave the geese a backstory and included a recreation. The geese’ house world of Quackzar is attacked by the evil Snake King, and it’s as much as the participant to avoid wasting the day. There’s a fold-out “board” on which to play with colourful illustrations of the PG-rated area opera. Therefore the identify of his firm — Planet Duck. DiPadova’s whole gross sales have topped $50,000, almost $10,000 of which has gone straight to the animal organizations. The remaining goes again into the corporate. It took about three hours of labor a day for six months to construct the web site and combine its market with Amazon, he defined. 

His dad, Albert, is a  profitable businessman himself who operates the Riviera Towel Firm. DiPadova’s grandpa was in gross sales, and his great-grandfather was a tailor. “Enterprise is in our blood,” he beamed. In Could, he received first place and $1,000 money for his marketing strategy in Santa Barbara Metropolis School’s Scheinfeld Heart New Enterprise Problem. 

Now he’s making an attempt to persuade Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman to convey his big inflatable “Rubber Duck” to Santa Barbara to boost consciousness for animal shelters. “It appears like I can undoubtedly do rather more.”


McKenna

Little one Advocate

McKenna | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

As a Senior Advocate Supervisor at Courtroom Appointed Particular Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County, McKenna, who needs to be recognized solely by her surname, has spent the previous 5 years because the voice for abused and uncared for youngsters in courtroom, serving to information them by means of the usually chaotic world of foster care, courtroom proceedings, and the kid welfare system.

Tons of of youngsters are faraway from abusive properties or neglectful guardians in Santa Barbara County annually, and sometimes the kid is on the middle of the competing pursuits of fogeys, legal professionals, and social employees. That’s the place McKenna and CASA’s staff of volunteer  steps in to talk within the youngster’s greatest curiosity and guarantee they discover a secure, everlasting, and loving house.

Typically, youngsters with court-appointed advocates are positioned in new properties or reunited with relations with mended relationships.

“That’s the perfect factor that may occur,” McKenna says. “That’s the perfect we may want for.”

After serving as an advocate for years, McKenna now supervises a staff of volunteer advocates — generally known as “CASAs” — out of the Lompoc workplace, coaching them within the delicate artwork of discovering every youngster’s “best-case state of affairs” and being there with them alongside each step of the best way.

McKenna mentioned she was honored to be thought-about a Native Hero, however she pointed to the staff of volunteers because the true magic behind the nonprofit’s success.

“After I consider a real hero, it’s the CASAs that I supervise,” she mentioned.

Coworkers that nominated McKenna mentioned she has proven herself to be dedicated to each the volunteers she supervises and the youngsters they’re supporting, regardless of the state of affairs, and she’s going to stay devoted to making sure every abused or uncared for youngster feels as if they’ve any person they will all the time rely on throughout their time of want.


Pedro ‘Pete’ Jimenez

Barber with a Coronary heart

Pedro Jimenez | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

When Pedro Jimenez, recognized by his buddies and purchasers as Pete, took over as proprietor of Goleta Barbers in 2002, he says he type of stumbled into the state of affairs. On the time, he was nonetheless in barber faculty and searching for a chair to hire and get his profession began; as a substitute, he was provided your entire store.

Twenty years later, his barbershop is now a staple of the Outdated City group, and Jimenez has grow to be a neighborhood hero in his personal proper together with his dedication to produce drives and native fundraising.

“We simply began noticing there have been individuals across the space that have been struggling to make ends meet,” he mentioned, describing the store’s early efforts of toy/canned meals drives and fundraisers.

Ultimately, one of many barbers on the store urged a turkey drive, and the occasion grew to become an annual custom — convey a turkey or a donation, get a free haircut — with the proceeds going towards native households in want or charities, or to assist youth sports activities within the space.

Coworkers and Outdated City residents describe Jimenez as selfless, giving up numerous hours of private time to assist translate for households that may’t learn or write English, driving aged neighbors to physician’s appointments, or giving out a free minimize for any person who wants a cleanup for a job interview. On Wednesdays, he lets an area youth outreach group use his store for conferences.

However even when nominated as a Native Hero, Jimenez’s modesty takes over. He provides the credit score to the staff at his store, whom he describes as household, and his precise household — his spouse, Corina; daughter, Natalia; and new child boy, Xavier.

“She has been the spine to loads of the stuff,” he says of his spouse. “She all the time has the correct factor to say on the proper second.”


Robin Unander-La Berge

Helper of All Who Want Assist

Robin Unander-La Berge | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Whereas all attorneys are adjured to “love the regulation,” what is obvious about Robin Unander-La Berge is that what she loves are individuals — and canines. She began Legislation for Paws in September and Moms’ Helpers in 2009.

Her animal rescue work and advocacy with the Isla Vista Tenants Union dovetailed into Legislation for Paws when she heard many pets have been in shelters due to evictions. She realized of 1 scholar whose severe funk stored her in mattress on a regular basis, spiraling downward, till a good friend urged she get a cat. “The kitten gave her one thing to deal with, to get off the bed, feed the cat, change the litter field, take her to the vet,” Unander-La Berge mentioned. However her landlord didn’t perceive. She and her roommates have been served eviction papers, however Unander-La Berge was capable of advise them on how one can show the cat was an emotional assist animal.

Moms’ Helpers started after Unander-La Berge noticed on-line an unanswered plea from one other mom for a crib. She lastly couldn’t stand it any longer, discovered a crib, and introduced it to the brand new mother together with a load of provides. “And never all moms have area for a crib,” she famous, which she and her volunteers have realized through the years.

“With regards to donating child stuff, there’s an emotional attachment. Generally these are beloved objects a mother is saying goodbye to,” Unander-La Berge mentioned, tears welling up in her voice. After one lady dropped off a bag of brand-new every little thing, Unander-La Berge quickly realized it was as a result of she had misplaced her child.

“What we do is a lot extra than simply giving garments to a brand new child. Whenever you’re pregnant, that nesting feeling is actual, and never everybody has the assist from a household or a accomplice. They get assist from us, individuals who don’t even know them, unconditionally.”


Rick Boller

Santa Barbara Bowl Boss

Rick Boller | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

The identify Rick Boller and the Santa Barbara Bowl, in some methods, have been destined to return collectively. Boller grew up right here, went to Santa Barbara Excessive, and even did a stint as an usher again within the day when the venue was generally known as the County Bowl. 

“Like a lot of my friends after I was rising up who have been musicians, and who went off and have become actually well-known, one of many issues they all the time talked about hoped they might have the ability to come again and play on the Santa Barbara Bowl stage,” mentioned Boller. “That could be a huge second of arrival, not less than of their minds, so yeah, I give it some thought for myself. On daily basis, I get to be related to the Bowl — that’s fairly cool.”

With greater than 40 reveals accomplished within the 2022 Bowl season — a file quantity due to a particular variance from the Board of Supervisors to assist make up income from nearly two years of pandemic closures — Boller has rather a lot to be pleased with, however he’s fast to share credit score with the board and the remainder of the staff. “It’s such an essential factor for our group to be part of this group, and the staff deserves as many accolades as I do on this.”

A Bowl workers member for greater than 25 years and Government Director since 2010, Boller additionally performed a key function within the facility’s $42 million restoration and renovation venture. Though there may be nonetheless work to be accomplished, the main focus is now on giving again to the group, which incorporates “persevering with to have the absolute best venue that we are able to for the artists to return to city and play,” he mentioned.

For him, the center and soul of all of it is the group, and, in fact, the music, which incorporates supporting the group’s budding artists, performers, and music lovers by means of the Bowl’s outreach program. As Boller mentioned, “Each time we get considered one of these superb artists in our small group, these are all actually proud moments for me personally.”


SBCC Promise

Realizing the Dream

From left, former SBCC Promise director Lucille Boss, SBCC Basis Chief Program Officer Rachel Johnson, SBCC Promise alum Leslie Marin Juarez, SBCC Basis CEO Geoff Inexperienced, SBCC Promise intern Gandhy Jimenez, and SBCC Promise Director Sergio Lagunas | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Sergio Lagunas was born in Mexico and grew up in Oxnard. Although he’s by no means lived on the North Pole, Lagunas has been taking part in Santa Claus to about 1,300 latest highschool graduates yearly, providing them free tuition, books, and supplies to allow them to attend Santa Barbara Neighborhood School for zero {dollars} a yr. “There’s a magic to it,” Lagunas mentioned, talking of his work operating the SBCC Promise venture, which was first launched six years in the past by Geoff Inexperienced, govt director of the SBCC Basis.

The Promise has now supplied as much as two years’ price of free tuition — and all of the arduous prices of going to school — for roughly 6,510 seniors graduating from excessive colleges from Carpinteria to Gaviota. That’s due to $10 million in non-public donations raised by Inexperienced and the Basis. Like about one-quarter of all Promise recipients, Lagunas was the primary in his household to graduate from faculty. He is aware of the difficulties of the journey. Promise college students should take a full course load, seek the advice of with campus educational advisors, and keep a 2.0 grade level common. Lagunas calls these necessities “milestones,” designed to maximise success. Thus far, this system has been each ridiculously profitable and extremely bold. The SBCC Promise venture is the one group faculty within the nation that’s completely privately funded; it’s additionally one of many few to cowl two years’ prices, together with summer season faculty. And it’s 100% accessible to each latest graduate, regardless of highschool efficiency or monetary means. Lagunas has come to like the quantity zero. “If college students see that zero,” he mentioned, “they will actually focus and decide to their educational objectives.” And all this interprets to much less scholar debt, greater grade level averages, greater commencement charges, and shorter completion instances. What’s to not love? 


Steve Junak

Native Plant Champion 

Steve Junak | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

About 50 years in the past, desirous to find out about native vegetation, Steve Junak started main hikes for SBCC’s Grownup Schooling program. The UCSB grad turned that zeal right into a botany profession, changing into an skilled within the native vegetation of California, notably these on the Channel Islands. 

For almost 40 years, Junak labored within the herbarium of the S.B. Botanic Backyard, the place he was employed in 1976. “The pandemic confirmed how essential it’s for the group to have that secure place to discover the outside so near city,” mentioned Junak, who caught the character bug from his hunter-fisherman father. “It’s simply an incredible alternative for individuals to get away from the stress of on a regular basis life.”

Although he retired in 2014, Junak continues to show lessons and lead journeys for the Backyard. “My objective has all the time been storytelling,” he mentioned. “The extra that any person is aware of a few explicit surroundings, the extra doubtless that they’re to need to protect it.”

His scouring of the Channel Islands to establish native and invasive species — and subsequent publishing of books concerning the flora of San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz islands — is so legendary that there’s even a plant, Junak’s Island Chicory, named for him on Anacapa. He’s even been instrumental in habitat restoration for Baja California’s islands. Junak additionally bought handmade belts and leather-based items on the Cabrillo Boulevard Arts & Crafts Present from 1971 till the pandemic. 

He now lives within the Purisima Hills close to Lompoc, the place he’s preserving land for endangered tiger salamanders. “The older I get, the extra I understand that if we don’t save habitat for these species to have the ability to survive over lengthy intervals of time, it doesn’t matter what you do to preserve particular person populations,” mentioned Junak. “It’s a futile effort.”



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