Santa Cruz County Bank's annual employee holiday party was a celebration of the successes of 2012 as well as a way to spread some holiday cheer to local children in need.

Doug Fischer, the bank's vice president and a CASA volunteer, spearheaded the event. The bank's employees contributed holiday gifts and gift cards for children of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Cruz County, resulting in 60 gifts, including a bicycle donated by Bike Dojo.

"We are humbled by the magnitude of Santa Cruz County Bank's generosity," said Cynthia Druley, CASA's executive director. "These gifts, combined with dozens purchased by the congregants of Resurrection Church, St. Joseph's Catholic Community, St. Andrew Presbyterian and other generous groups and individuals, will mean that every child served by CASA will receive a holiday gift."

Moving on up

Bay Federal Credit Union Board Chair Dennis Osmer has announced the appointment of Jessica Dixon and Jim Phillips to the Credit Union's all-volunteer board of directors. Dixon and Phillips were promoted from associate board directors to full director status after the board voted to expand the number of seated directors from seven to nine at its September 2012 board meeting.

Dixon is a native of Santa Cruz County. After graduating from Harbor High School, she attended San Jose State University, where she earned her B.A. in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. She has extensive experience in budget management and worked for Dominican Hospital for 14 years before the organization relocated their accounting department to Sacramento.

"I opened my very first savings account with Bay Federal Credit Union when I was just a kid," Dixon said. "I am proud to have this opportunity to volunteer for a Credit Union that has 'serving our community' at its heart."

Phillips serves as director of learning technologies at UCSC. He earned a Ph.D. from Duke University in romance studies, an M.Ed. in instructional technology from Kent State University, a masters and a B.A. in French, and a B.S. in business from San Diego State University. In addition to technology, his interests include real estate and financial investing.

"My family and I joined Bay Federal as soon as we moved to the area because of our long-standing ties with credit unions," Phillips said. "Bay Federal's values and community involvement make it a good place to be on all fronts."

Bay Federal's Board of Directors includes nine credit union members who volunteer their time and expertise to promote the best interests of all members. Dixon and Phillips will serve with current Board Chair Dennis Osmer and directors Bob Bugalski, H. Duane Smith, Ivonne J. Guzman, Michael Leung, Sheila Joyce Kellerman, and Kathleen Lawler Bodmer.

New black belts in town

Watch out for Nathan Mendelsohn, Steve Opolinsky, Toru Kawamura and Brian Guzman of Santa Cruz, who recently earned black belt rank in Brazilian jiu jitsu from Claudio Franca Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Black belt is the martial art's highest rank.

Based in Santa Cruz, Claudio Franca's also promoted Todd Jones, Steven Cocos, Quintin Cox, Paul Pendergrast, and Ken Wong of San Jose to black belt rank. Each of the nine men has trained under Master Claudio Franca, a sixth-degree black belt, for at least 11 years. Jones and Pendergrast of San Jose have been training for almost 20 years. Kawamura, age 62, is the oldest member of Claudio Franca's black belt class of 2012.

In addition to the black belt promotions, Claudio Franca awarded higher belt degrees or belt rank to 420 students, including children, women and men, from its Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Jose schools and regional affiliates.

Mixing and mingling

Theta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International had a fun-filled Holiday Mix and Mingle World Fellowship Dinner last month. Leslie Mason was in charge of planning and organizing, helped by DKG members Jean Calvert, Sandy Walt, Joan Jurichovich, Hazel and Jeffery Powell, Gail Malerouk and husband, Joy Clay, Jeanne Trebbien, Glenda and Ward Hastings, Pat Brennan, Olga Gaytan, Jan Dunn, and Cindy Messer. Jim Fowler, Steve Ferro and John Hoglund also helped make the event a success.

President Elnora Lewis welcomed attendees discussed the local chapter's involvement in raising money through a holiday boutique that supports scholarships for international recipients. This year, the group was able to donate $225 toward this fund.

The event was catered by Feast for a King, who provided a tapa buffet, and the entertainment was provided by the Soquel High School Jazz Choir, directed by Zina Urquart. Special guests included Howard Mason, Leslie Mason's 99-year-old dad, and Corinne Tollini, 89, Joy Clay's mother.

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