Caruthers, Swope named 2017 Living Treasures

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ashley Wilson
Phil Caruthers and Aryna Swope share a laugh during the April 25 award ceremony.
This is the second in a five-part series profiling the 2017 Ojai Living Treasures. Next week’s article will profile Julie Hamann.
Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter
Rikki Horne quoted the philosopher Aristotle when nominating Phil Caruthers and Aryna Swope for Ojai Living Treasure recognition.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," said the longtime Ojai Unified School District (OUSD) board member and four-time president.
"While Aryna and Phil have both individual and common interests, the way they work together creates synergy and exciting results for people of all ages in Ojai," Horne added.
The couple was recognized by the Rotary Club of Ojai and the Rotary Club of Ojai West at an April 25 event at the Ojai Valley Museum.
"They have given and continue to give to most of the major activities in town," said their mentor, Al West. "They know how to get things done and motivate others."
A Living Treasure is someone who's a role model and mentor in the Ojai Valley.
Caruthers and Swope have contributed countless volunteer hours to the Ojai Education Foundation (OEF), the Ojai Tennis Tournament, the Ojai Film Festival, the Ojai Music Festival, the Ojai Women's Fund (OWF), the Ojai Valley Retired Men's Club and the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation Guild (OVCHFG).
“We're very honored to have been chosen as Living Treasures,” Caruthers said.
“It's a very elite list of names, so it feels very good to have our names on it.”
Caruthers was raised in Texas while Swope hails from New York.
They met while working at IBM in Los Angeles, got married, and moved to Ojai in 2003.
Officially, they're retired, but you'd never know it by their busy schedules.
“It's crazy, I'm younger than both of them and I can't keep up,” said Horne, a 2014 Ojai Living Treasure.
Swope has been involved with OWF since its creation in 2016, helping to raise more than $60,000 its first year and $64,000 the following year for local nonprofits, to fund arts, education, environment, health care and social service programs.
“The whole idea is to educate the community about the need and also get more people involved,” Swope said.
For eight years, Caruthers served as treasurer of OEF, the “nonprofit arm” of OUSD.
“We contributed close to a half a million to the schools in grants and special projects,” he said.
The couple also helps to raise awareness and funding for OVCHFG, including serving as chairs of its Nightingale Ball.
“The hospital is so important to this community,” Caruthers said. “Not only did we need a new facility to replace the outdated one we have, but it will also contribute to the financial stability of the hospital.”
All of this charitable work is a new endeavor for the couple.
“Neither of us had any experience in fundraising,” Swope said.
“We kind of leverage our time and support each other,” Caruthers added.
Caruthers said he's amazed by the number of generous, giving people in the community.
“Look at this community — it would be totally different if you didn't have all these people that are willing to help,” he said with a bit of Texas twang in his voice.
“We know more people and have more friends here in little ol' Ojai than we did in great, big ol' Los Angeles!”
Other recipients for 2017 are Bob Denne, Julie Hamann, Allan Jacobs and Richard and Sheryl McArthur.
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