New Chamber Board Chair Marilyn Appleby also thanked Zahid Shah, who served two terms leading the business-centric chamber for his past leadership.
Held March 1 at the Community Center, 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 Salas Co. Burma and Butch Baselice and Large Business of the Year Bank of the Sierra.
During Crosswhite’s unique address she urged Santa Paulans to work together for a better city and a brighter future. She skipped the usual slideshow and rather made sure a detailed hardcopy update on city doings was distributed to the guests.
She noted the “official groundbreaking” of Harvest at Limoneira is “coming soon” and reminded the crowd that the new development won’t only have housing. Jobs, said Crosswhite, will be provided through commercial and light industry that will be built in East Area 2 across Highway 126 from the Harvest, and elsewhere in Santa Paula.
“Thank you for all coming out tonight, I want to thank my colleagues, staff, chamber, nonprofits and community leaders who came out to celebrate with us what is great and good and wonderful in Santa Paula.”
Crosswhite said in spite of potholes that plaque the streets and the rain that delayed repair work.
“Look around the room, look at the people surrounding you.” Santa Paula is, “as John Procter said,” interpreting the SP on South Mountain, “a special place for special people. We’ve seen this time and time again,” with the reopening of the Rotary Club Pumpkin Patch and the closing concerts of the Ojai Music Festival in the Downtown that “cut across town and across cultures,” with the music and the crowd from all over that mingled spontaneously with all they met.
Santa Paula, said Crosswhite, “Is a hardworking place where parents get up at the crack of dawn and pick so they can make a better life for their children,” a place where professionals, single parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers and others live.
“They’re all coming together to make Santa Paula the best place it can be. Yes, there are a lot of things that need to be done,” but overall “We are an amazing community. It takes every single person in this community,” no matter the language, no matter the culture, “coming together” to better the city that is not without challenges.
But, she added, Santa Paulans working together are tackling those challenges and turning them around.
“Our crime rate is the lowest it has been for five years,” resulting from stronger policing and a community effort to help stop crime and arrest lawbreakers.
Some, she noted, “say change is not a good thing. The thing is it’s going to happen, we can do nothing and things will still change. And doing nothing leaves us stagnant.
“The challenge is coming together and talking which, these days, seems to be more difficult about where we are going to go” and how we will get there, “in ways that help bring everyone in Santa Paula together so everyone can have a better life.”
Crosswhite, who was selected Mayor at the start of the second year of her first council term, continued to urge participation.
“We’re all part of this community and it will take all of us to choose how we move forward, to become the great community we are to be.
“I did not grow up here like many, but I chose Santa Paula because it truly is a special place, still a place where people watch out for each other.
“We need to continue to be a town where we help to create jobs, where we make those connections again,” to move the community forward.
Crosswhite said “It’s going to take all of us to make sure our children are educated, there are good jobs and there is housing.”
Mentoring a child can have a lifelong impact: “That makes such a huge difference, I have heard so many stories how one child’s life was changed when one person said ‘you are important’ and took time to spend with them,” and encourage them.
Opportunities for change, she noted, abound: “Maybe you will start a new event. Maybe you’ll meet someone you haven’t met before. But we have to work together, that is how we will make Santa Paula the place it was called to be, the place it was created to be. We are going to continue to be a special place but it is going to take all of use, each and everyone.
“As we go forward,” Crosswhite concluded, “think about what your role is, how can you help your community, those you encounter on a daily basis so we can continue to thrive here in Santa Paula.”
Crosswhite received rousing applause for her comments.
In other chamber business new Board President Marilyn Appleby of Anderson Kulwiec Appleby Architects, gave a plaque to immediate Past President Zahid Shah.
“I would like to thank Zahid on behalf of the whole chamber for his years of service to the board,” noted Appleby.
Emcee John Chamberlain said Shah was a self-made man who came to America from Pakistan and because highly successful.
In addition, said Chamberlain, “Zahid has been a great source for the chamber” and moved the organization forward.
“It takes a team to create success,” and said Shah, “Nobody can do it alone, all must work as a team for the community.”