Fifteen Santa Ynez Valley-based nonprofit organizations received grants from Montecito Bank & Trust on Nov. 21 during the financial institution’s annual Community Dividends Awards luncheon.

Representatives from most of the organizations were on hand for the event, joining their colleagues in the nonprofit world from throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. A total of $1 million was handed out to representatives from 203 nonprofits. In addition to the check, each also received a framed certificate honoring them for their work. The awardees were culled from 351 applications.

“As I look around the room, I am so impressed by the sheer number and diversity of services offered by the organizations represented here today,” Montecito Bank & Trust President and CEO Janet Garufis told the appreciative audience gathered at the Coral Casino in Santa Barbara.

The Valley nonprofits receiving checks were Atterdag Village of Solvang, Buellton Senior Center, Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, Friends of the Library of the Santa Ynez Valley, Midland School, Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum, Santa Ynez Valley Meals on Wheels, Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Solvang Danish Days Foundation, Solvang Friendship House, Solvang Senior Center, Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, and The Santa Ynez Valley Foundation.

They joined a varied group of nonprofits, large and small, many of whom also service the Valley such as Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County (CASA).

“This award is important because we have a lot of members who come through the doors who can’t afford our programs,” said Nicki Marmelzat of the Valley’s YMCA. “This is a kickoff for our annual campaign for scholarships.”

Friends of the Library of the Santa Ynez Valley financially assists the branch in Solvang and the so-called “twigs” in Santa Ynez and Los Olivos. The organization’s Jeanne Johnston said that although libraries are government-supported operations, “There is always money needed from the outside.”

Solvang is Montecito Bank & Trust’s northernmost branch location. Offices go south to Westlake Village.

The Elverhoj Museum was one of a handful of nonprofits that received its Community Dividend Award check prior to the luncheon. The bank sponsored the museum’s summer Solstice Sundowner, its largest fundraiser of the year.

“It is amazing to be here and see the group of nonprofit supporters gathered together,” said Elverhoj’s Executive Director Esther Jacobsen-Bates. “I get to see my colleagues in the field and meet some new people.”

Montecito Bank & Trust’s owner and chairman Michael Towbes created the Community Dividends Award program 14 years ago, and now has given away $14 million.

“We do this because we recognize and support the invaluable role your nonprofits play in enhancing the quality of life for all segments of our society. We do this to encourage other organizations to follow in our footsteps. We do this to encourage our employees to volunteer to support these worthy organizations. We do this because we think it is the right thing to do,” Towbes said.