CommUnify Honors 2020 Champions Rona Barrett, Jim Glines of Community Bank of Santa Maria, and The Towbes Group

Two Unique COVID-Considered Events Replace Annual Dinner

Each year, Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County – now known as CommUnify – recognizes extraordinary people and organizations that have helped improve the lives of children, youth, families, and seniors in their community. For 2020, CommUnify has selected two outstanding individuals and one stellar business for its 15th Annual Champions awards. The three honorees are:

Rona Barrett, the well-known entertainment reporter, commentator and producer who is now a champion for seniors at The Golden Inn & Village, a housing and wellness campus that she founded for low-income adults in their golden years.

Jim Glines, the co-founder of Community Bank of Santa Maria who frequently donates his time and talent as an auctioneer to help community non-profits, and has twice received “Citizen of the Year” awards from community organizations in Santa Maria.

The Towbes Group, a local development and property management company that has made philanthropy an integral part of its mission and core business practices, which include investment in the Give Where you Live and Towbes Grants programs.

“Our 2020 Champions were selected because of their ongoing dedication to the community. Their individual actions and generosity provide opportunities and support for the least advantaged among us, especially low-income seniors and children,” said CommUnify CEO Patricia Keelean, in making this announcement. “Rona, Jim and The Towbes Group exemplify community action and dedication.”

Previous years’ Champions include Lois Capps, Sheriff Bill Brown, Michael & Anne Towbes, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Dr. Kevin Walthers of Allan Hancock College, the Orfalea Foundation and CenCal Health.

Due to the coronavirus public health crisis, CommUnify chose not to produce its usual fundraising dinner and presentation. Instead they are hosting two family-friendly celebrations with built-in social distancing – an evening at a drive-in movie theater, and an old-fashioned on-the-lawn picnic. The 2020 CommUnify Champions will be feted at both events with a video created in their honor.

Movie Night at the West Wind Drive-In, Goleta

Wednesday, October 14 at 5:00pm

A nostalgic evening featuring the classic Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest starring screen idol Cary Grant, and a 1950’s-style meal created by Santa Barbara Catering. At check-in, each car receives an insulated tote bag filled with candy and other goodies, including a pass to the “Open (Snack) Bar” and free raffle tickets. Pre-film festivities include vintage car show and blast-from-the-past music by Santa Barbara-favorite DJ Darla Bea.

Alfresco Picnic with Music at Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria

Saturday, October 17 at 2:00pm

An old-fashioned on-the-lawn picnic at the college campus, with private picnic spot and a classic charcuterie lunch provided by Santa Barbara Catering. Music by David Seagall, and a live auction conducted by Santa Maria’s own Jim Glines. Auction items include a Western Steak BBQ for 20 Guests, a 2-night/3-day stay at a stunning St. Helena home, including a private tour of Pride Vineyards, and a Newport Beach 2-night stay with dinner and sunset cruise.

These two fundraising events are weather permitting, and subject to County Health Department updates. COVID-19 social distancing will be in effect as well as the mask requirement when outside of vehicle.

The annual CommUnify Champions event raises much needed funds to support the agency’s Senior Nutrition Program. Every weekday hundreds of seniors gather at 13 community dining centers from Guadalupe to Carpinteria, where they are welcomed by site hosts to enjoy a nutritious lunch served hot at-table. In addition, the Senior Nutrition Program has a home delivery initiative that serves over 700 daily meal to housebound residents. Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, requests for senior meals have increased by 68%.

CenCal Health is the events’ $100,000 Diamond Sponsor. For every dollar raised, CenCal Health will match the amount up to an additional $100,000 contribution. “This matching fund opportunity, in combination with the support of our other sponsors, helps move us closer to our fundraising goal of $875,000,” said Linda Rosso, CommUnify’s Director of Development. “This is an unprecedented amount to raise – more than double last year’s goal – but these are unprecedented times.” Other sponsors include Yardi, Santa Barbara Foundation, The Towbes Group, Towbes Foundation, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Deckers Brands, BB&H Benefit Designs, and Lois Moore.

Tickets and sponsorships are available at www.CommUnifySB.org or call 805 964-8857 ext #1101 to RSVP and for more information. CommUnify is also looking for volunteers to help at the two fundraising events.

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