• Santa Maria Valley Chamber Leadership Program Bringing Mobile Observatory and Publishing a Bilingual Children's Book

    The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce has organized the Leadership Santa Maria Valley Program since 1995. Each year, a class of area business professionals from across all industries chooses a legacy project to contribute a lasting impact of improving the local community. This year, the Leadership Class has elected to sponsor two projects. The first is a mobile observatory in partnership with the City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department. The second legacy project is a bilingual children’s book about the Santa Maria Valley that will benefit the Northern Santa Barbara County United Way and its literacy programs, as well as, the City of Santa Maria’s non-profit art program called P.L.A.Y.

    “The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce is blessed to have such a thriving leadership program,” says Chamber Director, Terri Oneschuck. “Each year the group creates a legacy project to deliver a long-term benefit to our community.” In 2010, the Leadership team started a pet food Drive for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society. In 2013, the class launched Go Bags, a program that gives needed items to kids entering foster care that continues through a variety of community groups today. And the Class of 2014, launched the Orcutt Graffiti Project that is maintained through Oasis today.
    This year’s Leadership Class features a cross-section of professionals from Marian Regional Medical Center Foundation, City of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County Social Services, Morris & Garritano Insurance, Naughty Oak Brewing, Century 21 Hometown Realty, PB & Associates Real Estate & Home Loans, WAV Group, Honda of Santa Maria, Toyota of Santa Maria, Community Bank of Santa Maria, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, L3Harris, Santa Maria Valley Contractors Association, RRM Design Group, and CoastHills Credit Union.
    “We are grateful to have the support of the Chamber Leadership group,” says Rudy Gutierrez, Recreation Coordinator for the City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department. The City was awarded a California State Parks grant to develop a mobile outdoor nature center. One of the most successful programs at the Los Flores Ranch Park is the bi-monthly star gazing events. “The addition of the mobile observatory will benefit this program and allow us to mobilize the observatory for local schools, astronomy clubs, and other community gatherings,” continued Gutierrez.
    The Leadership Class co-authored a bilingual children’s book titled Strawberry Moon Says, Goodnight. This book is aptly named for the last full moon of Spring and occurs in the month of June. Illustrations to depict the book’s verses will be done by students through an art contest held by the Leadership Class for students in the Santa Maria Valley in 4th-12th grade. The book also encourages literacy in our area where, according to the Literacy Project Foundation, only 25% of students in California school systems can perform basic reading skills. Finally, diverse support is needed to help this STEAM project to become an enduring legacy for the local community. Once published, the proceeds from the sale of the book will support Northern Santa Barbara County United Way’s literacy programs in Santa Maria, Orcutt and Guadalupe, as well as, the City of Santa Maria’s non-profit art program called, P.L.A.Y.
    The Leadership Class needs community support in funding these Legacy Projects by the end of April. The fundraising goal to deliver on the mobile observatory project is $18,075; the funding goal for publishing Strawberry Moon Says, Goodnight is $6,650. Tax-free donations may be made through the Chamber’s Santa Maria Valley Community Foundation by calling 805-925-2430 x 824.

    About the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
    The Chamber is the largest business organization in Northern Santa Barbara County. Its members include small businesses, corporations, associations, and individual professionals. Since 1919, the Chamber has worked with local government, education, private industry, and a host of other agencies and organizations to improve the business environment and promote the Santa Maria Valley as a premier community in which to live, work, and do business.

    The Chamber organizes and directs the efforts of those who share the desire to improve the conditions under which business is conducted. Through participation in the Chamber, members can accomplish collectively what they could not do individually. This spirit of collective action, partnership, and collaboration drive our successes. Learn more by calling (805) 925-2403 or visit www.santamaria.com.