Be the Difference Awards Celebrates the Spirit of Volunteerism

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County proudly hosted the annual “Be the Difference” Awards, a tradition that not only honors but truly celebrates the profound impact of volunteerism in our community.

This year, nearly 400 local civic and community leaders gathering to pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of our fellow citizens. Among the over 30 honorees, five individuals and groups were spotlighted through captivating mini-documentaries that detailed their unwavering dedication and service.

Two Icons of Volunteerism Honored with Legacy of Service Awards

Rowland and Pat Rebele, for their Legacy of generosity, kindness, service to others
and leadership that really has no equal.

Santa Cruz County Bank, for 20 years of exemplary community service and support of volunteerism.

Featured Mini-Documentaries Shine a Spotlight on Local Heroes

A Heartfelt Gathering That Inspires Us All to “Be the Difference”

The event was not merely a celebration but a powerful reminder of the resilience and compassion that bind our community together, especially during challenging times. As Katie Fairbarin, Chief Experience Officer for Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, noted, “This ceremony was a wonderful opportunity for the community to recognize those who tackle some of our society’s greatest challenges. Volunteers are indeed a force that transforms the world into a better place, and we are proud to have sponsored this heartfelt event.”

From the inspiring stories shared at the luncheon to the engaging video presentations and the surprise proclamation of May 8th as Volunteer Day in Santa Cruz by Santa Cruz Mayor, Fred Keeley, every moment of the event reinforced the power of volunteerism. Guests left with full hearts and renewed motivation to contribute their own time and talents.

Looking Forward

As Karen Delaney, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center, eloquently put it, “It’s the combined efforts of these outstanding individuals that fuel our hope and drive meaningful change. Their actions remind us of the power each of us has to support one another and enhance the place we call home.”

The “Be the Difference” Awards may happen once a year, but the spirit of volunteerism thrives year-round. The Volunteer Center offers hundreds of ways to connect for good. No matter how much time you have, or where you are located, let us connect you to the causes you care about most. 

To learn more about how you can get involved and help further our mission of making Santa Cruz County a happier, healthier place to live, visit our website at