It was philosopher Lao-Tzu who said, “He who obtains has little.  He who scatters has much.”  This year’s honorees at the third annual Celebrate Philanthropy! event in Santa Maria have established a lifetime pattern of widely “scattering” their financial support, time and talent.

The Celebrate Philanthropy! luncheon each year honors individuals or couples whose longtime philanthropic commitment to this community have made all of our lives better.

Organized by a collaboration of local nonprofits, this year’s luncheon will take place Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010, at the Santa Maria Country Club.  Three people will be honored: Royce Lewellen, Ann Foxworthy Lewellen and Sue J. Sword.

“Each of the recipients has ties to the community and has established a lifelong pattern of giving,” said Celebrate Philanthropy! committee member Judy Frost.  “We see the results of what happens when people come together and share their time, talent, treasure and leadership, and it’s just tremendous.  So much of that work goes unseen though, and through this venue, we are raising the profile of some of these philanthropic works,” she added.

“There are so many who, day after day, year after year, have an incredible impact on our communities.  We believe it is time to say ‘thank you’ in a public way,” added committee member Kathy Simas.

According to Frost, several hundred application letters were sent to the community requesting the names and stories of people who have revealed a generosity of spirit to make the community a better place.  An independent committee representing a diverse number of Santa Maria Valley organizations considered the nominations before selecting this year’s three honorees.

With a courthouse complex named after him, and an art gallery named in honor of her, Royce Lewellen and Ann Foxworthy Lewellen have made indelible marks on many Santa Barbara County communities.  The two, both individually and as a couple, have been major contributors to many organizations in Santa Maria, the Santa Ynez Valley and county wide.  In recognition of Lewellen’s substantial contributions to Allan Hancock College, he was given the “Outstanding Benefactor Award” by the American Association of Community Colleges’ Council for Resource Development at a presentation in Washington, D.C.  In recognition of Foxworthy Lewellen’s commitment to education and the community, she has received many awards, including the Woman of the Year for the 18th California Senatorial District, the Woman of Excellence Award from the Santa Maria Women’s Network and the Marian Medical Center Distinguished Service Award.  Both now retired, they were very successful in their respective careers, he as a superior court judge and she as the superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College.  The fact that their generosity has matched their substantial personal accomplishments has benefitted the entire community.

According to Sue Sword’s nominator, “For more than 60 years Sue has been a strong, committed and giving member of our community.  Not only does she make a lasting impression with her graciousness and intelligence, but she is also recognized as a lady who rolls up her sleeves and gets the work done!”  Those who have worked alongside her say she does not know the meaning of the word “no,” and over the years she has been a generous donor both financially and with her business expertise.  Since arriving in Santa Maria in 1945 and continuing beyond her retirement in 2000 as the longtime president of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, Sword has also served as president or board member of multiple civic organizations.  She has been a generous donor to many varied causes such as PCPA Forever Legacy and Maria Medical Center Legacy Society, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors such as the Santa Barbara County Outstanding Woman of the Year.  Her nominator summed up the nomination with this quote: “Sue is the quintessential volunteer and community leader.”

The public is invited to attend to help celebrate this year’s honorees.  The event has sold out every year.  Tickets are on sale now for $25 per person.  Contact 346-6123 for information or reservations.