For many, this past year has been a reminder that Carpinteria has a deeply rooted culture of caring. In week four of her 10-week series, photographer Ingrid Bostrom captures portraits of some of Carpinteria’s most compassionate citizens.
Anita Garcia was nominated by Carol Tokar, Lisa Patsch and several others. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Anita has been grocery shopping and picking up medications for elders. She volunteers her time knowing “many don’t have family or can’t afford to order online and if (she) can do it, why not?” Anita has also been operating a community pantry in Santa Barbara (along with Ronnie Shahbazian) that is stocked with food, clothes, toiletries and more. While we were chatting, after I took her portrait, she noticed a disheveled man pass by and offered him a mask, blanket and food. Her car was filled with donations she had just received, and she was eager to share them. “Anita is a community treasure!” said Lisa Patsch in nominating her.
Ronnie Shahbazian was nominated by Anita Garcia. Ronnie is a Vietnam veteran and a former driver of the Seaside Shuttle. He has been making sandwiches and burritos to feed the hungry for years. Ronnie has recently battled cancer and Anita has teamed up with him to feed those in need to encourage him to focus on his health and safety. Throughout the pandemic, they have worked together to make food and other provisions unconditionally available.
Ronnie had a cart outside his home for people to grab whatever they needed. The pair began to collect food from food banks, Catholic Charities and various individuals while expanding their offerings to more and more people. Their operation became known as “The Pantry” and was forced to move three times before the most recent location was shut down due to the use of Santa Barbara city property. Ronnie and Anita have been serving 60 to 80 people a day and continue to find creative ways to provide for anyone in need. Ronnie wanted to note that there have been so many people involved and that Stefan Landfried has been a vital member of The Pantry’s operations. “Ronnie is truly a hero,” said Garcia in her nomination.