Our Story & Vision
In 2009 Carl Nielsen took a group of young people to New Orleans to help restore this community after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina. He came back to Santa Maria and asked himself, "Why can't we do something like that right here in our own community?"
It is God’s people leading the way in serving Santa Maria through enhancing parks, schools and private residences in collaboration with business, education, and city government. Additionally we desire to impact lives of people throughout the Santa Maria Valley through interpersonal relationships via mentoring and other means.
To show our love for God and our neighbors, and demonstrate our unity in the Body of Christ.
To see the city and surrounding communities of Santa Maria transformed both in spiritual and societal ways.
"Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you.
Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
- Jeremiah 29:7
"Encouraging people of good faith
to work together with people of goodwill
for the common benefit of our city."
- Eric Swanson
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
Serve Santa Maria Leadership Team
Pastor Carl Nielsen - Carl served Bethel Lutheran Church since 1997 then retired. He loves God and wants others to experience the peace that God desires for all people. Blessed with a wonderful wife, Susan, and two children, 1 grandchild, and good health, he wants to be a blessing to others. Serve Santa Maria began as an idea after Carl took some high school youth to a national youth event (38,000 kids and chaperones) in New Orleans, and has grown into something much greater than he could have imagined.
Greg Nims - Greg is an Educational Psychologist & Licensed MFT who served in the Santa Maria H.S. Dist. for 40 yrs. prior to his retirement in 2009. Greg earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Westmont College while completing his graduate work at UCSB & Cal Poly SLO. Greg & his wife Norene have participated in a number of philanthropic/ faith-base initiatives over the course of their living in the Santa Maria Valley. Greg was a Leadership Team member for The Feb. 2010 'Santa Maria Valley Future Search Conference' ... And, remains - "Sure in Hope ... And, Certain of that which we cannot see" ~~~
Glenn Morris is the CEO and President of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The Rev. Dr. Peter Kang is the Rector at St. Peter's Church in Santa Maria.
Dorothy Mogavero - Dorothy has lived in Santa Maria since 1994 and has been a servant of Crestwood Christian Fellowship church since its inception where she is the Director of Community Outreach. She has been part of this community providing numerous ministries of assistance to the under-resourced individuals and families who are trying to attain better lives. Being part of Serve Santa Maria brings an excitement and unity with all her Christian partners to show the Valley the "difference we can make together”.
Terri Zuniga - Terri works for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney as the Victim Witness Supervisor. She has lived in Santa Maria her entire life, attended local schools, graduated from Santa Maria High School and attended Allan Hancock College. She and her husband Alex have 7 children, 14 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Her passion has been serving her community, organized around issues that affect working families, the poor, and those marginalized by society. She was elected to the Santa Maria City Council in 2012, is currently a board member of Good Samaritan Services, Santa Maria Valley Youth & Family Center, PLAY, Conflict Solutions Center, Community Action Commission and is a member of First Christian Church.
Mark van de Kamp - Mark joined Serve Santa Maria's leadership team so that he could be a part of helping improve Santa Maria’s appearance and quality of life. He finds fulfillment in coordinating and working side-by-side with volunteers at hands-on civic projects. Mark is the Public Information Manager in the Santa Maria City Manager’s Office.