Leadership and vision can move move mountains (and create trails)
When the Sheriff’s Department closed an unofficial trail system in Orcutt last summer, cross country coach and photographer Luis Escobar found there was nowhere for his students to run. People were getting tickets for hiking on trails they had traversed for years.
Luis wanted legal, public trails. He asked other hikers he met in Orcutt if they would get involved in an effort to create a public trail system. Santa Maria Valley Open Space was born. Thanks to the group’s efforts and Luis’s vision, the county has moved forward on its plan to develop 44 miles of public trails in Orcutt. Some of the trails should open this month.
Luis shows us the importance of becoming involved and that the action of one person can have a tremendous impact on the community. Because of that, and to encourage others to do more, Santa Barbara County Action Network will recognize Luis with its “Looking Forward” Award for leadership and vision during its 2012 North County “Looking Forward” Awards Dinner on Apr. 29 at the Santa Maria Inn.
Three other individuals and three organizations will also receive awards that night: Marian Medical Center, Good Samaritan Shelter, Carla Frisk, and Chuck and Barbara Arnold.
Marian Medical Center is receiving the Environmental Protection and Sustainability Award. Thanks to the leadership of the hospital’s Partners for the Environment Committee, Marian is an environmental leader. The hospital uses a cogeneration plant powered by methane from the landfill for 99 percent of its electricity; it has collected more than 469,000 pounds of green waste for composting; and it is a mercury-free and tobacco-free hospital. Marian’s employees are given financial incentives to walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation to work. They and their families clean Joe White Park monthly.
Good Samaritan Shelter is receiving the Working Families Award. The shelter serves more than 2,500 persons per year and has more than 500 volunteers. It is the largest homeless shelter provider in the county. It is the only sober-based homeless shelter system that focuses on family reunification while clients are in recovery throughout the county.
The shelter’s programs include a 12-bed inpatient drug and alcohol program; an outpatient counseling program; a day treatment and transitional living program for perinatal women and their children; tutoring and activities for “at-risk” children after school; and skills and job placement services for all clients.
Carla Frisk is receiving the “Giving Back to the Community Award” for her tireless work as a community advocate for 35 years. As The Trust for Public Land’s local program manager for 10 years, she has worked to preserve some of the county’s most iconic coastal and inland landscapes. As administrative assistant to former State Sen. Jack O’Connell for 20 years, she brought energy and expertise to a plethora of local issues. She has also served on the State Board of Landscape Architects and on the County Planning Commission.
Chuck and Barbara Arnold are receiving the “Social Justice Award” for their years of service to the Lompoc community. As pastors of the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ, they work to spread peace within the Lompoc community. After services, they feed their congregation while hearing from diverse community organizers. They host the Parents, Friends of Lesbians And Gays support group and a group that is working to start a local business cooperative. They award a Peace Prize annually and have Friday Flicks movie nights monthly. They open their home to individuals and organizations for meetings and lively discussions.
The efforts of these individuals and organizations benefit everyone. We thank them for their great deeds.
By Joann Marmolejo