Twice the Yuletide Spirit

By Richard Mineards   |   December 6, 2022
Anne Towbes, Kristine Flickinger, and Janet Garufis (photo courtesy of Montecito Bank & Trust)

It was a spectacular start to Yuletide when Montecito Bank & Trust held its 20th annual Community Dividends awards lunch, which normally divides $1 million among myriad local charities.

But this year the Hilton event for 300 guests was one with a decided difference as the bank, founded by the late Michael Towbes, awarded a hefty $2 million, bringing the total since its inception when Mike gave 100 nonprofits a $10,000 check each, to $21 million.

As Janet Garufis, chair and CEO, said succinctly: “Corporate philanthropy is so much more than writing checks.”

On top of the bigger dividend check, the bank, which now boasts assets of $2.24 billion and two new branches in Santa Maria and Oxnard, also expanded its annual Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend award, introduced in 2019 to make a meaningful impact by providing an annual dividend of up to $100,000 to one or more nonprofits that deliver critical and sustainable services to a large number of the most vulnerable people in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

This year five organizations were awarded $100,000 each with Mike’s widow, Anne Towbes, joining Janet on stage under the giant marquee covering the rotunda to present checks to CommUnify, the Pacific Pride Foundation, People’s Self-Help Housing Corporation, Santa Barbara Street Medicine-Doctors Without Walls, and The Arc Foundation of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

“I have to say that these five stood out in a way that far exceeded anything else we read,” added Janet.

Among the hoard attending the fun festive fête were Rona Barrett, Rich Block, Dean Noble, Luke Swetland, David Selberg, Donna Reeves, Cyndi Silverman, Caren Rager, Abe Powell, Sigrid Wright, John Palminteri, Roger Durling, Rolf Geyling, Ellen Goodstein, Geoff Green, Peter and Gerd Jordano, George and Laurie Leis, Greg Gorga, Gwyn Lurie, and Maria McCall.


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