18th Annual CommUnify Champion Awards Fundraiser

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 25, 2024
Vikings of Solvang Chief Larry Humburger, Mike Peterson, and Vice Chief James Tyson (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The 18th Annual CommUnify Champion Awards fundraiser was held on Friday,June 7, at the Craft House at Corque in Solvang.

The CommUnify 2024 honorees are Geoff Green, The Vikings of Solvang,and Hardy Diagnostics for their dedicated work on behalf of the people of Santa Barbara County. 

Geoff Green awarded by CEO Pat Keelean (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Program commenced with welcome remarks by Chief Executive Officer Patricia Keelean and Master of Ceremonies Andrew Firestone. Keelean thanked all the guests for their support, lauding Double Diamond sponsor CenCal Health who provided a matching grant to donations up to $100,000. She said, “CommUnify provides a sense of well-being to all who are in need. The focus for this event is the Family Services program we have, especially for those children aged three months through adults at 24 years old. There are seven Family Service programs that help children who are abused, a victim of human trafficking, and mothers as young as nine years old.” 

Firestone highlighted the honorees and gave a nod to the local politicians attending for their support of the organization, namely, Senator Monique Limón, Goleta Councilmember James Kyriaco,and CommUnify Board members: Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido, former Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Susan Rose, former Santa Maria City Councilmember Mike Cordero, SB City Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, and SBC 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson.

Green is the CEO of CalNonprofits and served on SB County and Ventura County nonprofit boards – the Foundation Roundtable of Santa Barbara County, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region, and the Network of California Community College Foundations. A UCSB grad, he started out as a Yosemite National Park Ranger. His noted work includes launching the Youth Making Change program at the Fund for SB and, as CEO of the SBCC Foundation, the rollout of the SBCC Promise program.

The Vikings of Solvang are a 50-year-old social-philanthropic organization, comprised of 200 plus members that help people with medical costs. They are an all-volunteer organization so that 100 percent of the funds raised goes towards those in need.

Hardy Diagnostics, founded in 1980 by Rob Shibata and Jay Hardy, is a multi-office facility in global microbiology. The company is 100% employee owned since 2015, with 1% profits donated to SBC charities and employees volunteer as well.

Jay Hardy and his Hardy Diagnostics team (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

During the buffet dinner, Firestone led the Ask and the Live Auction, with donations estimated at $50,000 thanks to his enthusiasm and athletic high-kick (if you know you know). 

CommUnify’s organizational video backed by U2’s song “Invisible” was shown. It covered the work they do, with interviews and statements from some of the children, teens and adults who use their programs. The organization thanked U2 for allowing the use of their song.

The event continued with a disco after-party in the bar.

Attendees included The Vikings of Solvang Chief Larry Humburger with wife Kenna Gose Humburger, Vice Chief Joe Tyson with wife Shirley, Dr. Roger Lane, Mike Peterson,and Art Kaslow; the Hardy Diagnostics team; Green’s wife Sue; CommUnify’s Board Chair Marina Owen, Vice Chair Alexander Saunders, Secretary/Treasurer Karin Dominguez, and board members Sanford Riggs, Josephine Torres, Dr. Sharon Lutz, Phylene Wiggins, Jeremy Ball, James Kyriaco, and its staff, CFO Grant Carmichael, COO Monica Logan, CDO Julie Weiner, Family & Youth Services Director Natalia Alarcon, Clinical Services Director Nuvia Almanza, Community Services Director Kemba Lawrence, and Children’s Services Director Lorraine Neenan.

Funding raised goes towards CommUnify programs and its clients’ needs, like youth enrichment activities and school supplies, computers, bus passes, groceries and
therapy services.  

411: www.communifysb.org


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