Chamber of Commerce President Marilyn Appleby presented Blanchard Community Library Executive Director Ned Branch with the Non-Profit of the Year Award for BCL’s service to Santa Paula for more than 100 years. BCL Board Directors also attended the March 1 celebration.

Blanchard Community Library lauded with Chamber Non-Profit Award

March 17, 2017
Santa Paula News

The Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce recognized Blanchard Community Library as the Non-Profit of the Year for the ongoing benefits it provides to the community.

The Celebrate Santa Paula/Citizen of the Year Awards banquet was held March 1 at the Community Center where a sold out crowd enjoyed an evening of paying tribute to individuals and businesses that make a difference for Santa Paula.

“When I first moved to Santa Paula,” Chamber of Commerce President Marilyn Appleby said, “we went to the public library. There my son met Miss Ilene,” Gavenman, the Children and Youth Librarian.

On their next visit, Gavenman, “Not only remembered my name but my son’s name and that Peter liked pirate stories. She even had a book of pirate stories,” ready to be read.

“That’s when I fell in love with Santa Paula,” said Appleby. “I knew I was in the right place…”

The Dean Hobbs Blanchard Memorial Library opened on February 28, 1910, the gift to the community of Nathan W. Blanchard and his wife in honor of their son who tragically died at age 6. There was one caveat: all bars in town had to be closed before the library could open.

Today, Blanchard Community Library, said Appleby, “Under the leadership of a dedicated board and executive director and from its location in the center of town, includes a wide variety of services.”

The library serves the community in immeasurable ways: “Aside from being a place of magic for children, and many bookworm adults, the library offers literacy programs and mentors adults who are earning their GED. The library runs a wide range of youth programs, adult discussion groups, and a popular preschool story time.”

In addition, noted Appleby, “The library has embraced the newest  technology  by incorporating an app that lets you connect with library and,” an award winning curriculum available for free.

The library also offers eBooks, e-magazines and audio books via online access. 

“The library’s contribution to Santa Paula is boundless, and we thank the Blanchard Community Library Board for its continued support and educational outreach efforts for our city.

“It is with great honor,” said Appleby, “we celebrate Blanchard Community Library with the nonprofit of the year award.”

Library Director Ned Branch noted that Appleby “spoke of Ilene Gavenman, who is the heart and soul of the library,” and whom in recent weeks celebrated her 40th anniversary with BCL.

“Our mission is to be a cultural center for the community; one of our recent achievements with Santa Paula Unified School District and First Five is not only,” providing English as a Second Language tutoring, but also by offering programs so parents can join their children after their lessons for group activities.

Such a program said Branch, allows families to “Read, grow, get educated and become viable members of the community.”

The awards dinner also featured honors given to Citizen of the Year Harold Edwards, Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award winners Dianne and Dudley Davis, Community Service Award recipients Elvia Hernandez and Carlos Juarez, Non-Profit of the Year Blanchard Community Library, Business Beautification Award — Santa Paula Orthodontics Jared T. Lee, DDS MS, Small Business of the Year Red Hot Foods/Santa Paula Salsa Co. Burma and Butch Baselice and Large Business of the Year Bank of the Sierra. 

Mayor Jenny Crosswhite gave the State of the City Address before an audience of community leaders and elected officials that included Ventura County Supervisor Kelly Long, Santa Paula Vice Mayor Ginger Gherardi and Councilmen Clint Garman, Martin Hernandez and John Procter.

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