On September 27, members of the Santa Cruz philanthropic community and supporters of the American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter gathered at the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the third annual 2013 Celebrate the Red Gala.
The event is the largest volunteer-led fundraising event for the Chapter and benefits local disaster relief and readiness efforts for Santa Cruz County residents and businesses, while also raising awareness of the vital roles the Red Cross plays within the local and global communities.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2013 Humanitarians of the Year Award to Mary and the late Richard C. “Dick” Solari. The couple supported the Santa Cruz community for more than three decades with their work in a wide range of areas such as education, health, culture, and the environment.
Mary said she learned the importance of giving back during the Great Depression. “I observed my mother feeding all who knocked on our back door,” said Mary. “Our house was ‘marked’ as a place where you could get a hot meal. It’s because of these early lessons that I have given when asked to help someone in need.”
In the early 1980s, Dick was one of the founders of the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (CFSCC) and served on its Board of Directors. The Solaris have also made major contributions to Second Harvest Food Bank, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, the Homeless Services Center, the Solari Gallery at the Museum of Art & History, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and numerous other local charities.
Over the past three decades, the Solaris have supported several Red Cross Chapter sponsors including the Dominican Hospital. When Dick passed away from cancer in 2008, Mary became Dominican Hospital’s largest donor when she pledged $1 million toward the creation of the Mary and Richard Solari Cancer Center. The outpatient facility was built to bring all cancer resources provided by the hospital to a single location.
“We continue to try to be good neighbors,” Mary said.
On behalf of the Santa Cruz Red Cross we would again like to give our heartfelt thanks and congratulations on receiving the 2013 Humanitarians Award.