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Ventura County

Longtime Volunteer Honored

Awards: Banker Patricia Richards earns county's annual merit for her three decades of charitable service.

November 12, 2001|FRED ALVAREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Camarillo resident Patricia Richards knows it would be an honor any time to be named Ventura County's Volunteer of the Year.

But the Oxnard banker and chairwoman of the Cal State Channel Islands fund-raising foundation said the award, which she received last week, has taken on special meaning in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Richards was picked by the local chapter of the Assn. of Fundraising Professionals, the world's largest association of charitable fund-raisers.

She was honored for three decades of service, piling up thousands of hours over the years for causes including battered women, wards at juvenile hall, the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club and the Pacific Agribusiness Alliance.

"What I'm doing is not unusual, it's just the American way of getting things done," said Richards, vice president for business development at City National Bank in Oxnard.

"I've been involved with a lot of things, but so have so many other people, especially in light of the volunteerism we have seen since Sept. 11," she said. "It's a situation where I feel very honored but humbled by this recognition."

Richards received the award Friday as part of National Philanthropy Day celebrations hosted by the fund-raising association in Santa Barbara. The fund-raising group tries to raise the public's awareness of the importance of philanthropy.

Billie Maunz, chairwoman of the local Philanthropy Day event, said Richards was the perfect choice for this year's award, given her years of service to her community and the county at large.

"I'm very impressed," Maunz said. "When I see someone who works full time, who has a career but still contributes her time, that is the most generous you can be."

Richards was nominated for the award by officials at Cal State Channel Islands, where in addition to her role in creating the fund-raising foundation she also was instrumental in developing a nonprofit art studio on the Camarillo campus.

Richards organized last year's president's dinner, a black-tie affair that raised $23,000 for scholarships. She has also sat in on interviews for the university's faculty and executive staff.

University President Richard Rush said he wasn't surprised when the association chose to honor her.

"She has been a marvelous friend to the university, and the causes she has campaigned for so effectively seemed to me to make her preeminent," Rush said. "She is so outstanding, from my point of view it was a slam-dunk."

The university's nomination was seconded by a letter from the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo. Chief Executive David Solo wrote of Richards' contribution to the organization, starting in 1993, when she helped guide the club through a period of tremendous membership and budget growth.

Richards, the mother of three adult sons, said looking back now, she received more than she gave in any of her volunteer efforts. "It was just seeing something that needed to be done and putting one foot in front of the other," she said. "I've been fortunate to have those opportunities come along and be a part of them."

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