Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tom Lugo was honored for leading The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which offers services to those in need. Lugo has led the local Society for six years.

Tom Lugo of St. Vincent de Paul honored with Chamber Edwards Award

March 02, 2016
Santa Paula News

Their motto is “No act of charity is foreign to our Society” and the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce honored the leader of the local Society of St. Vincent de Paul for bringing charity to all.

Tom Lugo was honored with the Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award at the Feb. 24 awards luncheon held at Casa del Mexicano.

Also honored were Debbie and Don Johnson, Citizens of the Year; Business of the Year Calavo Growers, Inc.; and Nonprofit of the Year Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley. The Community Service Award was presented to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, the local campus of the Ventura County Medical Center.

Lugo, whose family has lived in Santa Paula for more than 50 years, has been the President of the local chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul for the last six years and a member for over 15 years.  

Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Frederic Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul. 

At Saint Sebastian Parish, the Society provides both food and other temporary assistance to those who are experiencing financial difficulties.

Lugo, according to his nomination, “leads a group of volunteers and every Thursday they provide food, clothing and financial relief to approximately 350 families,” at St. Sebastian Church, located on North 9th Street.

In addition, the local society also visits Ventura to feed up to 200 homeless persons with funds they have raised to help those most in need. 

The Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award was created to honor the late “Dr. Sam” who was a tireless community activist also credited with helping to reestablish and reopen Santa Paula Hospital after it was purchased by the Ventura County Health Care Agency following its bankruptcy. The “Hospital on the Hill” is now a campus of Ventura County Medical Center.

Emcee John Chamberlain told the crowd at the award ceremony that with the recent Great Depression and the slow economic recovery “A lot of people have fallen on hard times…and we’re grateful for all the work you do,” by helping to provide the necessities.

Lugo thanked the chamber noting “It’s truly an honor” to accept the award on behalf of the Society which he said also offers medication, dental services, lodging and utilities to those in need.

“Our motto is ‘No act of charity is foreign to our Society,’ ” and he noted the support of St. Sebastian Church as well as Fr. Pasquale Vuoso.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Share occurs each Thursday afternoon at St. Sebastian’s Church. 

The Society was founded in France in 1833; in 1845, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established in St. Louis, Mo. at the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, popularly called “The Old Cathedral.” The first official meeting of the Society in the United States was held on November 20, 1845.

The annual Chamber of Commerce awards’ celebration featured Mayor Martin Hernandez’s State of the City address. Council members Ginger Gherardi, John Procter and Jim Tovias also attended the awards luncheon, as did Vice Mayor Jenny Crosswhite and Assemblyman Das Williams. Ventura County CEO Mike Powers also attended as did Santa Paula city department heads and City Manager Jaime Fontes.

Acclaimed harpist Xavier “Big X” Montes provided the musical entertainment and members of SPHS Future Farmers of America paid close attention to the guests.


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