David Gonzales was born in Oxnard, California and raised in Santa Barbara. He is part of a native Santa Barbara family, and a direct descendent of the first commandant of the Santa Barbara Presidio. He attended local schools, graduated from Santa Barbara High in 1976, and was employed by the City of Santa Barbara for nearly 32 years. He started his career with the Police Department as a Police Cadet and retired in December 2008 as a Police Sergeant. During his career with the Police Department, he served as a Patrol Officer, Public Information Officer, Diversity Officer, Emergency Services Coordinator, and SWAT Team Supervisor. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration from the University of Laverne.
David’s profession placed him into the lives of many low-income families, children and seniors in Santa Barbara. He loved his work and his community and wanted to help them find the assistance they might need so they could lead more successful lives. He started collecting food for the Unity Shoppe in the 80s. He encouraged his fellow Police Department officers to join his efforts to make the holidays easier for their low-income neighbors. Poor families were amazed to see uniformed Police officers putting food on the shelves at Unity as they shopped for their needs! The kids were laughing and everyone witnessed a kind and human bond between the Police and the children. David understood the importance of this and volunteered in many ways throughout the years, always showing people different ways that the Police Department could interact with the community. In 2002, he helped to increase Unity program service space for thousands of low-income families and the elderly by participating in a major fund-raiser, competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. He obtained hundreds of local sponsors as he swam the 2.4 mile swim, rode the 112-mile bike ride, and ran the 26.2 mile run in just over 13 hours. As the “Singing Sergeant,” he has participated in all of the Unity Telethon events since the early 90s. His efforts made it possible for Unity to successfully match the Pierre Claeyssens donated funds so Unity could purchase more space for their programs just 50 feet from their existing building on Victoria and Chapala Streets.
David continues to volunteer for many local charitable efforts including “Special Olympics” and “Food from the Heart.” He joined the Unity Shoppe Board of Directors in 2009 and was appointed Chairman of the Board in March 2017. He continues to help Unity by working at the Unity Shoppe as a Community Relations Liaison. His goal is to help the agency and an army of community volunteers as they all work toward a better understanding of the needs of our low-income neighbors (families, the disabled and elderly), so the entire community can join a collaborative effort to face the challenges of “poverty, struggle, action and hope” to successfully assist over 18,000 annual referrals from 300 other agencies.