Community leaders gathered last Thursday, February 27, at El Paseo Restaurant for the Downtown Santa Barbara organization’s annual awards breakfast.
2020 Board President Bob Stout of Wildcat Lounge and Little Kitchen emceed the event, which honors noteworthy recipients in various categories for their contributions to the organization’s mission: to champion Santa Barbara’s downtown district and the businesses therein.
Hutton Parker Foundation CEO Tom Parker received the Citizen of the Year award in recognition of the work that the foundation does to support local nonprofit organizations.
In introducing Parker, Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive director Roger Durling remarked: “Tom Parker is having a love affair with this City, and we’re the recipients of this love. It would be a much better world if there were more people like him.”
Durling went on to explain that the foundation purchases local buildings and rents them to non-profit organizations at below market rents. “He’s invested for many years in the sustainability of non-profits – and ultimately in the sustainability of this city.” The Foundation owns seventeen buildings in Santa Barbara County, which benefit a total of fifty-six non-profit organizations.
In receiving his award, Parker commented, “We love what we do. We’ve been around for 25 years, and we will be around for another 200.” Parker also revealed that the Foundation has been working to bring more university campuses to the downtown corridor.
The Harriet Miller Youth Leadership Award was presented to Lesly Abrego of San Marcos High School by City of Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo. This award recognizes a local high school senior for their leadership and community service.
Abrego has logged over 500 hours of community service and maintains an above A grade point average. She told the audience that her dream is to attend UC Berkeley and return to Santa Barbara to give back to the community.
Anne Petersen of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation received the George Gerth Volunteer of the Year Award. In a heartfelt acceptance speech, Peterson asked the audience to raise their glasses in a toast to support all the women working hard to lead our community.
Pacific Coast Business Times was awarded the Business Champion of the Year, which was accepted by editor Linda LeBrock.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Barrett Reed and Joe Corazza of The Miramar Group. “We comprehensively love Santa Barbara,” Reed stated. “We simply couldn’t and wouldn’t do what we do without the historic beauty of Santa Barbara.”
Downtown Santa Barbara represents more than 1400 downtown merchants and property owners. The organization sponsors programs, activities and events throughout the year, including the Holiday Parade, the downtown LIVE Art & Wine Tour, the decorative State Street Flag Program, and monthly First Thursday events.