Every December, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley sponsors a Holiday Luncheon to appreciate all those who support the Club. On Dec. 4 at the Newhall Clubhouse, wonderful food was provided by Clubhouse parents, including the much-anticipated annual homemade tamales. Attendees also heard from alumnus Veronica (Navarro) Bayer, who serves as the human services coordinator for the City of Santa Clarita.
She was welcomed by Jim Ventress, chief professional officer for the Club, who showed off some old news clippings and stories of Navarro’s days at the Club. Bayer spoke of the Clubhouse “making her dreams come true” and recounted many wonderful memories.
Finally, and importantly, special awards were given out. The 2012 honors bestowed were as follows:
* The Tom Veloz Board Member of the Year Award: 1) Rick Gould (governing board) and 2) Lou Suarez (foundation board). Gould, director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services for the City of Santa Clarita, was instrumental in getting the grant from the City and has assisted with numerous regional and national projects while on the board. He said he was “humbled” and very appreciative of the award. Suarez of Hays of California Insurance Services organized the August golf tournament for the second year. Ronda Chobanian, the Club’s director of Development, noted that Suarez had big shoes to fill yet he never wavered. “He was fantastic,” she said.
* The Tony Newhall Volunteer of the Year Award went to Jill Abejon and Karen Kibbee, who have volunteered for 10 years as a team organizing, creating, and overseeing more than 700 tabletop trees for the Festival of Trees. This year their trees alone raised $12,000 for the Club.
* The Special Award was given to two separate groups: 1) The City of Santa Clarita for stepping in to provide a $100,000 grant and 2) JC Penney, who has donated nearly $20,000 through its round-up and Pennies from Heaven customer donation programs. The award for the City was received by Gould and Chris Fall, chairman of the Parks Commission. Linda Cooper, Karina Jacobson, and Tara Kightlinger accepted the award for JC Penney.
* Karen and Todd Stevens, who chaired the Festival of Trees for the fourth year, were honored with the Sam Dixon Award. Ventress described them as a dynamic duo. “I cannot say enough about them. Because of their leadership, we have made more than $400,000 in the last four years. That is in addition to all they personally give to make the Club a success,” he said. The Stevens have also helped with annual auction and were instrumental in getting the gymnasium redone recently. Chobanian added, “Todd and Karen are amazing. They have been able to get our name out there to people who didn’t know about the Boys & Girls Club.”
As per tradition, Gary Condie, president of the foundation board, acknowledged the ladies leading the administration office with a bouquet of flowers each: Suzanne Benty, special events assistant, Chobanian; and Teresa Gavin, accounting and administrative manager.
Condie passed the gavel to Carl Kanowsky, who will serve for two years starting in January 2013 as the foundation board president. Condie said, “I have no worries about passing the baton to Carl as I did it when I was governing board president. He will do a great job again.” Kanowsky had equally good things to say, “Gary is a part-time CPA and full-time volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club. We appreciate all his leadership.”