of Greater Santa Barbara


Bunnin Chevrolet and Hearts Therapeutic Honored with 2018 Strong, Smart, Bold Award


Girls Inc. announces Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac and Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center as the 2018 Strong, Smart, and Bold Award honorees. The annual awards will be presented at the 17th Annual Celebration Luncheon, on Thursday, September 27th at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. The luncheon theme is Girls Have the Right! and will feature women’s movement leader, activist, and attorney Brenda Feigen.

The Strong, Smart, and Bold Award is presented annually to one Girls Inc. local corporate partner and one program partner that each embody the mission, vision, and values of Girls Inc. Honorees demonstrate an ongoing commitment to inspiring girls through their leadership, service, and support, and have a significant impact on the lives of girls, women, and our community as a whole. The Home Depot and the Curie-osity Project at UC Santa Barbara were honored in 2017.

Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac, Corporate Partner Honoree

Like Girls Inc., Leo Bunnin knows that safety is paramount. Having well maintained vehicles is critical to safely and efficiently transporting girls from more than 30 local school to Girls Inc. centers daily during the academic year, and to providing transportation for offsite classes and summer camp field trips.

With the help of a $150,000 Challenge Grant, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara worked with Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac in 2018 to facilitate the purchase of four new youth buses to help update its aging transportation fleet. The Bunnin service department also generously donated repair work on several vans in Girls Inc.’s existing fleet. Girls Inc. will continue to partner with Bunnin into 2019 to support its transportation needs, which are vital to its mission.

“Receiving this award and recognition is so humbling to myself and our employees,” says Leo Bunnin. “We so believe in Girls Inc. and what they do and represent. We are so happy and so proud to support this great organization.”

Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Program Partner Honoree

As one of the four national Girls Inc. advocacy priorities, girls’ mental health is a central focus for Girls Inc. Since 2016, Girls Inc. has partnered with Hearts Therapeutic to provide the Horse Power equine therapy programs for girls and teens in the after-school and summer programs. The quarterly sessions focus on improving girls’ patience, concentration, perseverance, and emotional control – skills that girls need when facing a new or emotionally-challenging situation, like having a new sibling at home, facing a bully at school, or coping with the loss of a family member. Selected girls work 1:1 with Hearts staff and volunteers, and learn to care for the horses as part of the emotional bonding and healing processes.

“We cherish our partnership with Girls Inc. and are so thrilled that our missions blend so well,” says Pamme Mickelson, Hearts Therapeutic executive director. “Having these girls out with our horses, seeing them develop trust, confidence, and empowerment, is truly humbling. We are so grateful to receive this award.”

Individuals interested in supporting Girls Inc.’s partnership with Hearts in 2018-2019 can contact Girls Inc. at 805-963-4757.