Although it has been a few decades since Andrew Salazar served as Lompoc’s first elected mayor, the 81-year-old is showing that he can still rally his community.
After getting some inspiration from Lompoc-area high school students, Salazar assembled a group of high-profile community members this month to help him launch Lompoc Cares, a campaign that aims to raise money for South County residents — particularly those in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas — who were displaced or otherwise negatively impacted by the recent fires, storms and mudslides in the area.
Salazar said he knew he wanted to do something after reading about how the Lompoc and Cabrillo high school student bodies joined forces to raise $1,000, which they donated last month to Santa Barbara High School. That money was given to help those and their families recover from the devastation caused by last year’s historic Thomas fire and the Jan. 9 debris flow triggered by a winter rainstorm that ravaged Montecito.
“That was very noble of those high school kids to do that, so it occurred to me that the city of Lompoc — citywide — should be able to do something similar,” Salazar said. “So, that was the genesis of the whole idea.”
Through the campaign, the Lompoc Cares supporters are asking city residents to donate whatever they can to aid the South County recovery effort. Donations are asked to be made to the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization. At the end of the month, all the money collected will then be turned over to the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Community Disaster Relief Fund, which is being used to assist those residents and families who are still trying to recover.
Checks, which should include Lompoc Cares in the memo section, can be mailed to Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, P.O. Box 368, Lompoc CA 93438 or they can be dropped off at 1593 E. Chestnut Ave. All donations, which are requested by March 30, are tax-deductible and receipts will be provided.
Ashley Costa, the executive director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, said she was immediately on board after meeting with Salazar over coffee last month to hash out the details of the campaign.
She said that after talking with representatives from the Santa Barbara Foundation, it became clear to her that the overall recovery effort will take years, not just weeks or months. She noted that support can often wane over time following a catastrophe, so she was hopeful the Lompoc Cares drive would give another push.
“Our (goal) was just to bolster those efforts now that we’re a few months out, and also just to show our support and to show that support goes both ways in our county,” she said. “A tremendous amount of support comes from the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas to the Lompoc area. So it was time for us to step up.”
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In a mass email that Costa sent out to Lompoc community members on March 2 to solicit donations, she provided figures highlighting the assistance that comes into Lompoc from the South County area.
“In the last five years, the Santa Barbara Foundation has given Lompoc-serving organizations over $700,000, the Scholarship Foundation has given Lompoc students $2.3 million in support over the last three years and the Orfalea Foundation has given Lompoc schools approximately $2.4 million,” read a portion of the email. “Absolutely incredible.”
The letter went on to note that the recent devastation has impacts beyond the obvious. For example, Costa wrote, many South County small businesses are struggling due to a lack of commerce during the turbulent holiday season, and nonprofits in that area are taking on a much bigger load right now even though many are seeing fewer donations as residents try to get their lives back on track.
“Current efforts are needed to support individuals and families (as they) rebuild their homes and heal emotionally, but also needed to lessen the impact of that devastating ripple effect,” she wrote.
Others who signed on to support the campaign right away include Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl, attorney Jim Hall and business owners and community members George and Cheryl Bedford, Roy and Laura Belluz, George and Sylvia King and Bob and Eileen Holloway.
“I wanted to get representation from throughout the community,” Salazar said.
Salazar noted that he and his wife, Priscilla, know of one South County family, in particular, that was wiped out by the recent natural disasters.
SOURCE: (Santa Maria Times)