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Judge Thomas Black

Judge Thomas Black


The late Tom Black, a highly respected a Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge and long time Aptos resident, worked tirelessly to support children, youth and families in our community. His legacy lives on through the Youth Resource Bank of Santa Cruz County (YRB), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The YRB exists because Tom Black recognized that Santa Cruz County should have an organization, free of red tape and overhead that could fill the gaps between traditional programs for children and youth. Early in Judge Black’s career as a Juvenile Court Judge, he came to grips with the lack of rapid and cost-effective resources for our County’s most vulnerable people, its youth and young families, and he did something about it.

What prompted Judge Black to take action? In 1982, a young man appeared before him at a juvenile court hearing. When Judge Black requested a response to a question, the young man covered his mouth with his hands, muffling his words. When Judge Black instructed the youth to remove his hands and speak louder, the young man complied, but instantly the Judge felt saddened because it was obvious the young man was trying to hide his missing teeth.

After the hearing, Judge Black spoke to Lynn C. Miller, Juvenile Division Director, about the incident. Mr. Miller was familiar with Judge Black’s concerns, because he had seen many similar situations involving unmet personal needswhile working in the juvenile justice system. When Judge Black demanded to know what the Probation Department could do, Lynn responded by asking, “What can we do?”

Mr. Miller and Judge Black,with the support of a local dentist, were able to address the young man’s dental issues. Inspired, the pair began to explore a more responsive and long term solutionto what had been a mostly haphazard approach to helping youth.In 1985, with the support of Linda E. Erwood, the Chief Probation Officer; Mr. Miller applied for and received a California Youth Authority grant.


The grant was small, but the investment delivered an impressive and dedicated program now known as the Youth Resource Bank of Santa Cruz County. With a contingent of savvy and youth-oriented community leaders, including local business leaders, local agency staff, and the late Tom Black, the YRB was formed. The YRB became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and continues today to serve over nearly 200 children, youth and families annually.

One of the many hallmarks of this non-profit organization, in addition to being a program with no paid staff and no office overhead, is its early on focus on tattoo removal. At the time of Judge Black’s death, he and the YRB Board had been working to provide a safe, sensible, and cost effective way of providing youth with removal of tattoos and an opportunity to re-enter the mainstream community. With the help of many of Judge Black’s friends, the YRB was able to secure funding for a laser tattoo removal machine. With the strong desire and commitment of Morgan Magid M.D., other local dermatologists, and Dominican Hospital, the Dominican Hospital Tattoo Removal Program was put in place and continues to this day.

The YRB receives referrals from local agencies; nurses and teachers who have determined eligibility and have exhausted other avenues of funding. The YRB has continued to have the support of the local judiciary, including the late Judge Kathleen Akao, Judge William Kelsay, Judge Robert Yonts, Judge Stephen Siegel and Judge John Salazar, as well as the business and legal community and local government and non-profit agencies. It is truly a local success story.

For YRB’s 25th Anniversary year, the late Judge Black’s family has committed to donating $3000 a year to the Youth Resource Bank in his honor.

If you would like to learn more or donate toward this wonderful cause, please visit us at

Big fun at Cabaret 2013

Saturday January 12, 2013

Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors

We had one of our best nights ever with Extra Large, the award winning, festive dance band; Acquire, the energeticĀ a capella vocal group from UCSC; and our special guest Yala Lati, Women’s World Music Ensemble, featuring outstanding soloist Heather Houston who enchanted and opened our hearts with heavenly harmonies.

Thank you for all your support.

Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors
Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors
Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors
Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors
Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors

Cabaret 2012

We raise most of the money that we use to provide resources at an annual cabaret fundraiser in January of each year. The following article appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on March 4, 2012, and is reprinted here, along with the accompanying photo, with permission.

Name Dropping: A Cabaret That Counts

Justine DaCosta
Posted: 03/04/2012 01:30:59 AM PST

It was another successful event for the Youth Resource Bank, which hosted its annual Cabaret fundraiser Jan. 14 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. The local endowment for at-risk youth was more than satisfied with the public support generated for the nonprofit endeavor.

Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors

Youth Resource Bank board of directors, from left to right, Nathan Benjamin, Joann Allen, Laura Garnette, Lynn Miller and Scott Munro, pose after the annual Cabaret fundraiser for at-risk youth at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz

“We’ve counted our totals, and this year nearly topped our record-breaking receipts from 2009,” said Lynn Miller of Aptos, board vice chairman. “It’s wonderful how giving the public is when it comes to helping our most at-risk youth.”

More than 200 concertgoers enjoyed Beatles music from the beloved White Album Ensemble and threw their support to the event’s live and silent auctions. County Supervisor Mark Stone helped out by hoisting a new Santa Cruz bicycle and surfboard for all to see as it was auctioned off by fast-talking local auctioneer Robert Slawinski.

“The fund is almost full for the upcoming year due to the giving spirit of people attending the Cabaret,” according to Laura Garnette, a Scotts Valley resident who runs the YRB auctions and serves as a deputy director of the Santa Clara County Probation Department.

Scott Munro, a youth and family therapist as well as the event’s talent coordinator, said the organization was also gifted by the contributions of local teenagers.

Youth Resource Bank Board of Directors

“Dale Ockerman from the White Album Ensemble brought the best of his students and young musical friends,” he said. “They were talented beyond our wildest expectation.”

Smith, a 14-year old guitar phenom, brought a jazz combo called BeBop featuring Lucas Hahn, 12, on piano, Aaron Caceres, 17, on bass, and Grae Zimmerman, 16, on drums. New funk fusion band Soul Island led by local teenage keyboardist Will McDougall wowed the club.

Attorney Nathan Benjamin served as emcee and explained that the all-volunteer organization started by the late Judge Thomas Black back in 1988 gives incentives to at-risk youth. He said the group fulfills requests from teachers, social workers and probation officers for “the little things that make a big difference to kids in need,” which includes everything from bikes, beds and books to after-school classes, backpacks and karate uniforms.

A highlight of the event was the appearance of Bay Area gospel/soul singer Will Russ Jr., who brought down the house while singing with the Soul Island. YRB board members Judge John Salazar, former Judge Robert Yonts, and Court Commissioner Stephen Siegel all showed their support by attending the event, whose sponsors included the Baskin & Grant Law Firm, Farmers Insurance, Kiwanis Club of Surf City, Santa Cruz County Employees Credit Union, the Seaside Co. and Watsonville Community Hospital.


Thanksgiving Day Run for Pie 2012

Cabaret Fundraiser Poster

Hundreds hit the Thanksgiving Day trail for at-risk kids

By J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 11/22/2012 04:29:50 PM PST
Photo by Dan Coyro

APTOS -- Before running to the dining room table for turkey and mashed potatoes, several hundred runners and walkers left their cozy confines Thursday morning for the inaugural Thanksgiving Day Run for Pie benefiting at-risk youth.

The 5K/10K event started at 9 a.m. in Aptos Village Park, where participants dashed uphill in the crisp sunshine into the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Runners were handed mini pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread and other treats at the finish line.

The 10K male winner was Gareth Ewing and the 5K male winner was Guillermo Cuevas. Michelle Kearns won the 5K for women and the women’s 10K winner was Mary Jessen.

“It’s a great way to get some exercise in and feel like you can eat more generously during the day,” said Lisa Cedarblade of Aptos, a volunteer for Fleet Feet, the shoe store that organized the race.

Tina Coillot, who took over the store with husband Russ two years ago, said they wanted to create a Thanksgiving Day fitness tradition for local families. The Coillots, who moved here from Sacramento, participated in that city’s annual Run to Feed the Hungry race.

“We just said, ‘We’re going to do it,’” Tina Coillot said.

The Coillots and some of their customers are involved with the Youth Resource Bank of Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit that provides school supplies, clothing, shoes and other needs for local children. The couple decided to donate proceeds of the race to the organization.

Having secured permits for just 250 people to participate, Tina Coillot said she had to turn dozens of runners and walkers away. One of the runners who got a lucky bib was Santa Cruz County Supervisor Neal Coonerty, who was fresh off last weekend’s Big Sur Half Marathon.

“I wasn’t sure I was ready, that my legs hadn’t gotten rusted,” Coonerty said, adding that he wasn’t surprised so many people came out on a holiday morning for a quick trot. “It does give you license to eat an extra piece of pie.”