In an annual dance that taps those who go above and beyond when it comes to service, the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation and Santa Ynez Valley News have chosen this year to honor an outstanding group for their contributions to the community.
Linda Stafford Burrows has been selected as the Santa Ynez Valley 2017 Woman of the Year, and David and Sid Goldstien have been named Men of the Year in honor 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 Brooks and Kate Firestone.
Additionally, the 2017 Stuart Gildred Visionary Award is being given posthumously to Solvang's first mayor, Elaine "Willi" Campbell.
Three high school students will also be recognized as Youth in Service award recipients. They are Paloma Angel, a senior at Dunn School, and Gloria Sevilla and Cole Sparkman, seniors at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
All the winners will be honored April 1 during a gala awards banquet at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.
"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."
Stafford Burrows is described by colleagues as a visionary, and a dedicated, tireless and effective force for creating and sustaining Valley projects and boards.
Among many other things, she has spearheaded instituting music and arts education at Solvang School and other public schools, served on the boards of the Solvang School Education Foundation - now S.A.M. Solvang Arts & Music, the Solvang Festival Theater, CAMA, Valley Community Theatre, PCPA Foundation and currently serves on the boards of the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation and Santa Barbara Strings as well as advising other nonprofits.
Brothers Sid and David Goldstien are longtime residents of the Santa Ynez Valley. Sid is a civil engineer and David is an architect, both with offices in Solvang. They have been involved in many voluntary activities and projects for organizations throughout the Valley for years.
Among them David has been organizing the Santa Barbara County Architectural Design Competition since 1991 and has been prominent in his support for the Elverhoj Museum. He was one of the first board members of Friendship House and both he and Sid have contributed expertise in their fields to Friendship House pro bono.
Brooks and Kate Firestone have been involved in the community since the early 1970s. Between them they have an extraordinary list of organizations they have served including St. Mark's-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, the Santa Ynez Valley Vintners' Association, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, Direct Relief, Meals on Wheels and the Santa Barbara FoodBank, Solvang Festival Theater and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care.
Brooks Firestone also served in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1998 and as a Santa Barbara County supervisor from 2005 to 2008.
"One can wonder what the Santa Ynez Valley would be like had Kate and Brooks Firestone not fallen under its spell and decided to spend the best years of their lives and their best efforts here," writes the Rev. Randall Day, in his nomination letter.
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 nine through 12 for outstanding service to others.
In addition to recognition plaques, each adult honoree receives a $1,000 grant from the Foundation to be donated in the honoree's name to a charity of his or her choice. The students each receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used for post-secondary education.
Profiles of each honoree will be published in the Valley News in the weeks leading up to the banquet.