SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Montecito Bank & Trust tradition of sharing $1-million in dividends with non-profits welcomed more than 195 non-profit organizations to the special luncheon today.
The organizations came from throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
This is the 21st year for the event, created by the late bank founder Michael Towbes.
It will especially help during these times of financial challenges. Many non-profits are reporting lower than normal contributions due to tight budgets, inflation and a poor recovery from the pandemic.
A Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend is also distributed as a special honor. This award is now in its fifth year, and $925,000 has been given out since its inception. There were two winners. The special checks for $50,000 each went to the Children's Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara County and the Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association.
"You enhance the quality of life for all segments of the community and for that we are so grateful for you thank you," said Montecito Bank & Trust CEO Janet Garufis.
She said the bank receives a long list of requests from non-profits each year and has to carefully choose where the funds will go. "We do our very best to address the greatest need and the greatest impact and that's where we really try to focus."
The bank says many non-profits need this donation to help make ends meet as they close out the year and others use it to launch their projects for 2024. It also encourages other donations because it serves as a "seal of approval" when Montecito Bank & Trust puts in a contribution and offers support.
"We can make a changing gift something that really will make a difference."
These dividends checks will go right to work.
Women's Economic Ventures CEO Kathy Odell said, "they're true partners in what we do." There's collaboration with the bank and start up businesses. "And with clients that we are trying to put into business they're right there to help and that's what's important."
A "safe routes to school" effort by the Bucket Brigade in Santa Ynez and Montecito was also a priority use for this year's dividends with projects underway now and more coming up.
Abe Powell said, "we are actively fundraising to build more trails and we're working with other neighborhoods that want to kick start a trail system where they live all across the county."
The arts have always been very important to the bank as a key pillar in the community.
Jodi Wilson with the Lynda Fairly Carpinteria Arts Center said says it will have a diversified use for the funds."We re growing, we are the heart of downtown Carpinteria and we make a difference in so many lives we're really the heart beat of the community." Wilson says the funds will meet many needs of all ages. "It spans the spectrum of everyone who needs arts and theatre and dance." The center is on Linden Avenue.
This event also brought together executives and staff members from non-profits who might only see each other occasionally but they used the time to share ideas for successes going forward.