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If you wanted to know where the heart of San Benito County was last night, I think it is safe to say it was at San Juan Oaks last night.

275 of San Benito County’s most giving community members were gathered by the Community Foundation for San Benito County to honor 43 Philanthropists of the Year. Each of the 43 were chosen by a non-profit organization and recognized for their voluntary work. San Benito County is home to 242 non-profit organizations with a wide range of focus, from troubled children and senior health, the Girl Scouts, the Rotary Clubs and Libraries,  the homeless, public and private schools, local theater, artist, the Community Food Bank and much, much more.To see a photos of every nominee and their organization, click here.

This year’s list of honorees for donating their time and energy to their local non-profits are:

Aromas Eagles – Jim West

Aromas Hills Artisans – Barbara Scoles

Aromas-San Juan Bautista Community Schools Foundation – Terry Strasser

Aromas-San Juan Unified School District – Colleen Frederickson

Baler Education Foundation – Mike Schurig

CASA of San Benito County – Minde Busch

Chamberlain’s Children Center – Josie Bravo

City of San Juan Bautista – Wanda Guibert

​Community Food Bank of San Benito County – Nancy Takaoka

​Community Foundation for San Benito County – Bob Stratton

Community Solutions – Toni Lamps

Emmaus House – Lucille Hardy

Fishes and Loaves – Sarah Herbert

Friends of the San Benito County Free Library – Rebecca Salinas

Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast – Jennifer Morcate

​Jovenes De Antaño – Charlie Scott

Hazel Hawkins Hospitals Foundation – Richard and Angela Shelton

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital – Geraldine Simmons

Hollister Downtown Association – Richard Steele

Hollister Lions Club – Larry & Karen Smith

Hollister Rotary Club – Cathy Buck

Holte Holiday Dinners – Jason Noble

Homeless Coalition of San Benito County – Sunnyslope 4-H Club

Hospice Foundation – Steven C. Merrell

Kinship Center – Gabilan Chapter – Marge Brady

Leadership San Benito – Jessica Brem

Pinnacle Quilters of San Benito County – Julee Maggiora

​Sacred Heart Parish School – Robert Bianchi

​Saint Francis Retreat Center – Michael Lee

San Benito Arts Council – Cesar Flores

SBC Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center – Kim Bautista

San Benito County Free Library – Monica Quiroz-Rivera

​San Benito County Historical Society – Wayne Bowers

San Benito High School District – Youth Alliance

San Benito Oriana Chorale – Rachel Romina

San Benito Stage Company – Kristy Burchard

San Juan Historical Society – Vicki Morris

The Salvation Army – Henry Gutierrez

United Way of San Benito County – Target

Women’s Club of Hollister – Cindy Biesemeyer

​YMCA – Norma Martinetti

​Youth Alliance – Lori Marra


​Many in attendance had been recognized previously and were attending in support of this year’s honorees and their non-profits.


Other groups in attendance were:

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey


Community Services Development Corporation

David and Lucille Packard Foundation

Los Altos Community Foundation

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

33rd District Agricultural Association

Pet Friends


The Program was put together by Committee Co-Chairs Colleen Johnson and Beverly Meamber. Renee Kunz and Will Sutton served as Masters of Ceremony. Awards were presented by Supervisor Margie Barrios and Mayor Ignacio Velazquez.


Keynote Speaker Tim Borland of Windmere Ranch was the subject of a film about his feat of running 63 marathons in 63 days to bring awareness to a rare fatal children’s disease. He inspired the group by reminding them that none of the things he had accomplished, or that they had accomplished could be done without the help of others.He spoke of the hope that had been created in families who had given it up, but were inspired by his act. He was inspired by their hope.


Community Foundation for San Benito County Executive Director Gary Byrne closed the gathering with the announcement of an opportunity made by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation which will be available to all 501c3 San Benito County non-profits in May for National Giving Day. There will be a workshop on Thursday, Nov 21 at the YMCA at 5:30 for those interested in knowing more.


You may download the power point slide show which accompanied the presentations here.