SB Can hosts Looking Forward Awards Dinner

Santa Maria Times, May 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When Karen Evangelista talks to young persons at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center, she asks them if they know their heritage. She wants them to talk to their parents to learn their stories.

This was one message the executive director of the center in Guadalupe gave to attendees at the North County Looking Forward Awards Dinner put on by Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN) May 19 at the Santa Maria Inn.

SB CAN member Joyce Howerton presented the awards to Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Bill Libbon, Judge Rogelio Flores, Mary Ellen “Marell” Brooks, Jan Martinez, Dan Mally and the Lompoc Co-op Development Project.

With Betty Faas on piano, entertainer Gale McNeeley and PCPA students Paul Chavez, Allyson Hankins, Noelle Sisneros and Kenny Bordieri sang songs to each of the winners. The awardees chose their own songs.

Bill received the Working Families Award for his 39 years of service at the Boys and Girls Club. His song was “It’s a Beautiful Morning.”

“The song reminds me of kids,” Bill said. “Everyday is a different day, a different morning. What’s most important is what’s happening right now.”

“He’s giving parents the ability to go to work knowing their children are loved and cared for and most importantly — safe,” Joyce said.

Rogelio received the Social Justice Award for his work with treatment courts that help people turn their lives around. His song was “Stand by Me.”

“I have seen in my 26 years things that can only be described as miracles,” Rogelio said.

“He holds people accountable, but does it in such a loving, respectful way, they get it,” Joyce said. “Consequently they change. Their families change.”

Martinez and Mally received the Environmental Protection and Sustainability Award for turning five weed-filled empty lots into pocket parks in downtown Lompoc. They spend their own money and use mostly recycled materials. Their song was “On a Clear Day.”

“We had a really good time,” Jan said. “We stayed under the radar for a long time. We Ninja gardened.”

“It has given people a sense of pride in the community,” Joyce said. “I often see people in the gardens walking, talking, occasionally with a dog.”

Marell received the Giving Back to the Community Award. She has served on several commissions and community groups. Her song was “Dancing in the Street.”

“I think the song to me represents everybody in the community working hard and coming out like tonight,” Marell said.

“She really put her time into working on what was best for the community,” Joyce said.

The Lompoc Co-op Development Project received the Looking Forward Award for giving the Lompoc community a vision and hope for the future. Community members came together to help improve employment. They just launched the Green Broom Brigade, a worker-owned green cleaning firm. Their song was “The Co-op Song,” which Gale led the audience in singing.

Diana Samaguey spoke in Spanish for the project. Maria Garcia-Cacique interpreted for her. Diana is one of the five worker-owners of the co-op. She is happy to be employed.

“They’re employing people. They’re giving them something to be proud of,” Joyce said.

Awards were presented by SB CAN Executive Director Ken Hough. Certificates were presented by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Blanca Figueroa, representing Congresswoman Lois Capps, and Doug Coleman, representing Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian. SB CAN President Joann Marmolejo gave the opening remarks. Jim Enos and Liz Douglas played piano and bass during the reception.

For more information about SB CAN, email [email protected].

Jeanne Sparks is the communications manager for SB CAN. She is also a writer, photographer and graphic artist. For information, call 739-1836; email [email protected].