2020 Man, Woman of the Year honorees announced

The ballroom at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is filled to capacity for the 2015 Man and Woman of the Year Awards banquet. The event honors community volunteers in the Santa Ynez Valley on an annual basis.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation and the Santa Ynez Valley News are proud this year to again honor those in our Valley who go above and beyond in their service to our communities.

Linda Marzullo has been selected as the Santa Ynez Valley 2022 Woman of the Year, and Richard Nagler has been named 2022 Man of the Year in recognition of their leadership and extensive efforts to give back.

They were chosen by a panel of board members of the foundation, editors of the Valley News and former honorees, based on nominations made by Valley residents.

The panel also voted to present the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to Alice Olla.

Two high school students will also be recognized as Youth in Service Award recipients. They are Ruby Carrillo and Harry Mullin, both students at Santa Ynez Valley High School. 

Volunteers of the Year in six categories were chosen as well. They are Joy Sawin, seniors; Robert Pack, health and human services; Robb Kennedy, education; Jeffrey and Carole Bloom, culture; Steve and Lisa Palmer, community enhancement; and Jennifer Berman, youth.

All the honorees will be recognized Oct. 2 at a gala awards event.

"The Man and Woman of the Year recognition is a great way for our community to pay tribute to our steady, quiet heroes whose caring hearts and hard work define 'community'," said foundation Director Anne Christensen. "The Valley is filled with the energy and power of people reaching out and taking care of neighbors, friends and strangers just because it is the right way to live as compassionate human beings. These honorees have literally touched thousands of lives through their volunteer work and it is our honor to celebrate them."

Marzullo heads up Bethania Lutheran Church's Food Distribution Program, serving an average of over 800 people per week. She also coordinates the Brown Bags Program on a monthly basis, is head of the church's Social Ministry program and has arranged for food, clothing and blankets for farmworkers in Santa Maria over the last decade. 

She directs "angels" from Bethania to shop and wrap gifts for children of Iglesia Luterana Santa Cruz congregation in Santa Maria each year.

"There is more hunger in this Valley than we realize, and many children and seniors suffer," Marzullo is quoted as saying in the letter nominating her for the honor.

Nagler has served organizations including the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Los Olivos Rotary, Ridley Tree Cancer Center, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, Wildling Museum, Arts Outreach, St. Mark's Church and Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach, among others.

"For many years Rich Nagler has been, and continues to be a force for good in the Santa Ynez Valley. ... I have personally served on several board with Rich, and know that his commitment goes far beyond the regular board work to assure the success of a project or fundraiser. His vision, good spirit and energy make positive things happen, and in some cases, such as scholarships, he offers his own resources to be sure that an important program is fully supported," states one of his nomination letters.

Olla has served the Valley for more than 20 years through organizations including the Solvang Senior Center, Atterdag Village, Valley Haven, YMCA, PCPA, SYV Chorale and the SYV Elks.

"Alice has made a significant impact in the areas of health and human services and senior citizens. If there is a need, Alice fills it with a smile on her face. I have never met a woman with a more loving soul," writes her nominator for the award.

The Valley Foundation, founded in 1991, has as its mission improving the lives of people in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos, by investing in programs that feed the poor, promote health, nurture seniors, challenge youth and inspire the community to make a difference.

The foundation and the Valley News created the Man and Woman of the Year program in 1995 to recognize local residents for their volunteerism. The Youth in Service Award was added in 2012 to honor students in grades 9-12 for outstanding service to others.

In addition to recognition plaques, the Man and Woman of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement honorees each receive $1,000 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice. Volunteers of the Year receive $250 each, and the Youth in Service recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship award.

Profiles of each honoree will be published in the Valley News in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony.

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