City of Santa Barbara Annual Mayor's Event

This is a special collaborative venture with the City of Santa Barbara Mayor's Office and the Department of Rehabilitation to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Pamela Gunther, DOR SVRC/Job Coordinator, and Mayor Marty Blum spearheaded this event from it's inception in 2005.

The event honors businesses and community partners in the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria for their efforts to employ and provide accessibility to individuals with disabilities. Employers are acknowledged for their efforts in hiring new employees, and providing accommodations in order retain current employees. Community partners are acknowledged for their efforts in providing access to buildings, recreation areas, services and shopping/entertainment venues. Keynote speakers have included, Catherine Campisi, Tony Sauer, Joe Xavier, Ralph Black, and Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko's and the author of "Copy This! How I turned Dyslexia, ADHD, and 100 square feet into a company called Kinko's".

Mayor's Event (Annual Mayor's Awards)

2014 Mayor's Event Awards

Locals Honored at Annual Mayor's Awards Event

Thomas Kaufmann from the OTOjOY company won an award for his work with Loop Santa Barbara.  Thomas and OTOjOY are working very hard to make all public places in Santa Barbara accessible to people with hearing impairments, a large and growing community. The Santa Barbara News Press even featured an article on this special recognition! Loop Santa Barbara is funded in part by the Santa Barbara Foundation.

2012 Mayor's Event Awards

Mayor's Awards Honor Businesses Committed to Employing People with Disabilities

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider celebrates the 
                Eighth Annual Mayor's Awards with, from left, Rae Van Seenus, 
                Rep. Lois Capps, Evan Goldenberg, Joe Xavier, Philip Truax, 
                Honorable Helene Schneider, Mayor of Santa Barbara, SaraLloyd 
                Truax, Troy Turano, Ralph Nobbe, Karl Hutterer and Elaine 
                Gibson. (Tri-Counties Regional Center photo)
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider celebrates the Eighth Annual Mayor's Awards with, from left,
Rae Van Seenus, Rep. Lois Capps, Evan Goldenberg, Joe Xavier, Philip Truax, Honorable Helene Schneider, Mayor of Santa Barbara, SaraLloyd Truax, Troy Turano, Ralph Nobbe, Karl Hutterer and Elaine Gibson. (Tri-Counties Regional Center photo)

By Heather Wennergren for the Tri-Counties Regional Center
Published on 10.19.2012 11:22 a.m.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider recently hosted the Eighth Annual Mayor's Awards, honoring local businesses for facilitating employment for individuals with disabilities.

Keynote speaker Joe Xavier, Deputy Director for the Specialized Services Division, Blind and Visually Impaired and Deaf & Hard of Hearing for the Department of Rehabilitation, presented on employment and abilities from his unique perspective.

Design/Accessibility Award

The Design/Accessibility Award is given to a business that has provided accommodations to create equal and aesthetic access. This year's award went to Whole Foods Market for providing equal access and Braille grocery signs. Rae Van Seenus and John Bennett accepted the award along with Evan Goldenberg.

Joshua Goldenberg of Simi Valley was born totally blind. As he gets older, he is figuring out that the world will not accommodate his needs without a struggle. His parents, Evan and Christie Goldenberg, are encouraging him to change the world one step at a time.

With the help of some friends, they started the Joshua Project Foundation. The foundation's mission is to put Braille labeling along with other aides and technology into grocery stores throughout the United States.

When Josh's mom learned that people with visual impairment sometimes waited 20 minutes for assistance in grocery stores, she thought, "Josh is so fiercely independent, he'll never go for that." Looking for a solution at 7 years old, Joshua said, "Mommy, how am I supposed to go shopping if there's no Braille?" And although Christie and Evan thought their son's idea would be brushed aside, the reaction was quite the opposite.

Their local Whole Foods Market embraced the concept, and soon after, Joshua was at home making labels for the stores.

Today, Whole Foods Market Santa Barbara location is the third Whole Foods location to launch The Joshua Project by putting Braille labeling on their grocery and produce labels along with a tactile Braille store directory. The Santa Barbara store has worked to create an accessible shopping experience with ADA compliant countertops, check stands, indoor and outdoor dining tables, produce scales and restrooms. The extra wide aisles help as well.

Outstanding Effort Award

The Award for Outstanding Effort is given to a business that recognizes people with disabilities as valued community members. This year's award went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for welcoming people of all abilities to learn about nature. Karl Hutterer and Elaine Gibson accepted the award.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, founded in 1916, is visited by more than 150,000 people each year. The museum is devoted to regional natural history and features 11 exhibit halls and spaces, a planetarium and the Maximus Art Gallery. The museum strives to inspire a thirst for discovery and passion for the natural world through pursing scientific knowledge, educating the next generation, promoting sustainability, and bringing the community together.

In 2007, the museum began an initiative to reconnect children to nature, inspired in part by Richard Louv's seminal book Last Child in the Woods. Unique outdoor environments were utilized as a special educational resource. Hands-on education programs were expanded for visiting school groups, riparian woodland areas were developed into The Museum Backyard, and the museum spearheaded a collaborative group of organizations called "Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara."

With a grant from the Williams-Corbett Foundation, the museum rehabilitated an existing cottage to look and feel like a naturalist's cabin in the woods. This Nature Club House has shells, fossils, live insects and other small critters, providing a rich and personal experience for families. Although the budget was tight, the museum was determined to make the cottage accessible by adding a ramp and deck.

Accessibility advocate and local champion of "Leave No Child Inside" Elaine Gibson was instrumental in the renovation of the Nature Club House, which was completed in March. Gibson is often found in The Museum Backyard or the Club House engaging the visitors to get into nature. When the sign "The Naturalist Is In" is displayed, peek in to see her critters of the day. Through her work at the museum and the coalition, Gibson is dedicated to curing "nature deficit disorder."

Employment/Accommodation Award

The Employment/Accommodation Award is given to an employer who reflects the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices. This year's award went to Nobbe Orthopedics, specializing in the design, fitting and manufacture of custom orthotic and prosthetic devices. President Ralph Nobbe accepted the award.

After a back injury, Troy Turano was no longer able to work in the field he had trained for. With on-the-job training support from the Department of Rehabilitation, Turano found a home at Nobbe Orthopedics.

"Ralph noticed some of my skills and he opened up opportunities for me to grow," Turano said. "I greatly appreciate that."

Now Turano gets to do work that helps other people. He is amazed at the fantastic attitude that many of their clients have. "They are awe inspiring," he says. Turano reflects on his new career: "The biggest difference for me is working providing a basic need for someone, that is the intrinsic reward fixing a guy's leg and he runs for the first time in six years, that is neat."

Turano is an orthotic tech in training. Through investing in his education, Nobbe is getting a highly skilled staff member who is also deeply committed to the employer and the job.

Nobbe obtained his orthotic certification in 1982 and prosthetics in 1984. He is president of the California Orthotics and Prosthetics Association. He has also served as president of the Independent Orthotic and Prosthetic Provider Network and is certified as an orthotic and prosthetic examiner by the American Board for Certification. He also serves on the government relations committee of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association. Continuing his father's work, he is the president of Nobbe Orthopedics.

"Many people with disabilities bring a level of skill to a position," Nobbe said. "They are looking for an opportunity to be productive and find a way to engage in their communities."

Media Award

The Media Award honors print and broadcast reporting that recognizes the importance of equality and dignity regarding disability. Accepting the award was SaraLloyd Truax of the Santa Ynez Valley Journal.

Raised equally on the East and West coasts, Truax graduated from Chapman University, where she received formal training to become a California certified teacher of the arts. After the passage of Proposition 13 the need for a new career arose and she earned a juris doctor degree from California Western School of Law and is admitted to both the California and New York bars.

Her next career move took her to enroll in the journalism program at Santa Barbara City College. However, her current editor was willing to take a chance on her, so she dropped out in order to write full-time for the Valley Journal in the fall of 2010. The upside to her lack of formal training gives her the opportunity to instill a level of creativity not normally found in straight news reporting perhaps that's why she enjoys it so.

"I don't believe in sound bites or that 140 characters are sufficient to convey a thought worth muddling over," she said. "Instead, I do my best to tell the stories that enrich our lives as accurately and concisely as I can, with an aim to give readers the sense of being a part of the event as it unfolds."

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Locals Honored at Annual Mayor's Awards Event

Written by Ryan Carmel at
Story Created: Oct 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM PDT
Story Updated: Oct 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM PDT

The 8th annual Mayor's Awards event was held in Santa Barbara Wednesday (October 10th). The event is a chance to recognize business leaders who give opportunities to people with disabilities.

The Whole Foods in Santa Barbara was recognized for allowing blind eight year old Joshua Goldenberg to create braille shelf labels for the store.

Ralph Nobbe of Nobbe Orthopedics was recognized for hiring people with disabilities.

Sara Lloyd Truax with the Santa Ynez Valley Journal was honored for her reporting on the importance of equality and dignity regarding disability.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was recognized for valuing community members with disabilities. Museum leaders added a ramp and deck to a cottage so it would be handicap accessible.

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2010 Mayor's Event Awards

Photo by Kenji Photography of 2010 Mayor's Event Award Recipients
Pictured L to R:
Outstanding Effort Award: Donna Slimak, Director of Member Services, CenCal Health
Design / Accessibility Award: Tariq Kadri, Kadri and Associates
Media Award: Steve Cushman, President Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce
Honorable Helene Schneider, Mayor of Santa Barbara
Employment Accommodation Award: Jennifer Rose, Manager, Hollister Brewing Company
Media Award: Rob Egenolf, Egenolf and Associates