Volunteers of year to be honored March 24

By Raiza Giorgi

Volunteering is a way of life for Man and Woman of the Year Allan Jones and Judith Dale.

Jones said giving to the community through volunteering improves the lives of others and ourselves.

“We have created the most generous and productive nation in history — all by our own choice and free will of earning, giving, and serving others. I love the valley, so community volunteering is just natural a part of life here,” Jones said.

“When I was growing up in the Santa Ynez Valley, many volunteers and service clubs helped me. Also, my parents were great role models for volunteering,” Dale said.

“Buellton at that time was a very small, close-knit community and everyone worked together for the betterment of the schools, 4-H, and the community,” she added. “Today that tradition continues, not only in Buellton but in the entire Santa Ynez Valley and even Santa Barbara County. I see the great things that can happen when people get involved in their community.”

Each year, the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation honors two of the valley’s finest as man and woman of the year as well as a select group of other volunteers. In 2013 the Valley Foundation also started honoring “Youth in Service” to recognize exemplary teenagers.

All of this year’s honorees will be recognized at an awards banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott.

The honors were started in 1995 when Rita Lunde, then director of the Valley Foundation, approached then-editor LaCinda Johnson of the Santa Ynez Valley News to create a celebration for local volunteers.

Each adult honoree gets the chance to direct a donation from the Valley Foundation to his or her favorite nonprofit organization. The “Youth in Service” honorees receive scholarship awards for college.

Jones was chosen man of the year because of his involvement in 4-H, Solvang Rotary Club, Solvang Vikings, Solvang Theaterfest, Ballard Cemetery board and Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, among others.

Dale was chosen woman of the year for her leadership as the past mayor of Buellton and service as a member of the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital board, representative for Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District on the Library Advisory Board and Parks Commission, a member of the Buellton Union School District board, and a founder of the Buellton Community Educational Foundation.

This year’s recipients of the Lifetime Achievement award are Brooks and Kate Firestone, who were nominated but couldn’t accept the award last year.

This year’s Volunteer of the Year for Community Enhancement is John Copeland; Volunteer of the Year for Seniors is Diana Richardson; and Volunteer of the Year for Health and Human Services is Edna Nesky.

The four high school seniors receiving “Youth in Service” scholarships are Alyssa Antoci, Samantha Garcia, Ella Hoose and Ariana Avila Torres.

For more information, go to syvalleyfoundation.org, call 805-688-2991, or send email to syvf@verizon.net.