Bob DeWitt Volunteer
of the Year Award
The Origin of the Award
In 2017 Big Brothers Big Sisters created the Bob DeWitt Volunteer of the Year Award. It was created to mark DeWitt’s 25th year as a key organizer of the Day on the Monterey Bay Regatta. The annual race is hosted by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. It was also the year that the event surpassed $1,000,000 in funds raised for youth mentoring.
DeWitt grew up in Topanga Canyon in the 1960’s during which time music was elevated to a new level in the neighborhood. His family hosted neighborhood parties and created a haven for artists and advocates where entertainers like Woodie Guthrie stayed for weeks. After attending UC Berkeley and obtaining his degree in Civil Engineering DeWitt served in the Peace Corps. He was stationed in Bolivia and there he discovered firsthand “the importance of helping people achieve their hopes and dreams.”
DeWitt moved to Santa Cruz in 1970 after visiting his sister. He built his professional resume by working for the County and a private firm. In 1977 Bob DeWitt started his own engineering firm. He has since sold his business to Hogan Land Services, where he still works.
Bruce Donald, a local dentist, introduced DeWitt to sailing. He discovered his love of being on the water where “you can forget the woes of the world and just have fun.” That year Dewitt joined the Santa Cruz Yacht Club and has been an active member ever since. In 1992 he advocated for Big Brothers Big Sisters to become the beneficiary of the club’s annual benefit race.
DeWitt really likes bringing out people that are new to sailing to the event. He also enjoys, “the festivities of the afternoon that proceed the race.” DeWitt and his wife Jan both serve on the Regatta committee, which he describes as a dedicated, fun, and hardworking team.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is honored to have an annual award named after a person so deeply dedicated to youth mentoring. Bob DeWitt’s contributions to the agency have helped improve the lives of many children in Santa Cruz County.
2018 Award Winner is Jack Sparks
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County is proud to present the 2018 Bob DeWitt Volunteer of the Year Award to Jack Sparks. For over 30 years Sparks has volunteered with the agency to help improve the lives of children. His resume includes being a Big Brother to four young men, serving as Santa Claus at the annual holiday party, and generous financial support.
When asked about his time being a mentor Sparks states, “I get a real sense of giving something back to my community. That this great young person will have his best chance to become a good friend, a good citizen, and maybe someday a good father is the best justification for my investment of time and attention.”
Jack Sparks has led a life of service both locally and internationally. In addition to his three decades volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, all mentors get a free oil change through his family business, the DMV Clinic. He has offered this perk for over 20 years. Sparks also spearheaded auto mechanic training in Nepal through the International Automotive Technicians Network. He taught the students and donated tools and welding masks for their newly learned trade. Furthermore, he provided opportunities and education for the families in the area. Sparks established a way to get Nepalese art to a broader audience and guidance on why getting mercury out of the family kitchen is critical.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is honored to acknowledge Jack Sparks for his service and dedication to improving the lives of others.