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.

Priscilla Higgins has been selected as the Santa Ynez Valley 2019 Woman of the Year, and the Rev. Randall Day has been named 2019 Man 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.

Volunteers in six categories were also selected for recognition.

They are Monna Dingman, youth; Steve Schulz, education; James Patin, culture; Kathy Erb, health and human services; Patricia Lackie, seniors; and Gary Riches, community enhancement.

Two high school students will be recognized as Youth in Service award recipients. They are Ashley Flores Aquiniga and Isabella Hartley, both seniors at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

All the winners will be honored March 30 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."

Higgins is described by colleagues as a hard-working fundraiser whose thoughtfulness and commitment are unequaled.

Among many other things she has supported the Santa Barbara Cancer Center, Allan Hancock College, is a former board member and president of the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation, and is serving on the Land Committee. She will be on the board of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and has also served on the Vestry and Finance Committee for St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

Randall Day has been in the Santa Ynez Valley serving as rector to St. Mark's church in Los Olivos for 11 years. His contribution as a volunteer, however, has far exceeded his role and duties as a minister. 

Day has served on the board of the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital for more than eight years and has been a member of the Los Olivos Rotary for about the same time. He's on the board of the Santa Barbara Foundation and is a member of the Los Olivos Chamber.

He has worked hard to make St. Mark's a community center and has opened the church's Stacy Hall to support the work of over 100 nonprofit, civic and care organizations in the Valley. 

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.

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