Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Grants $600,000 to Local Nonprofits

Women's Fund of Santa Barbara“Collaborative efforts are part of the future of philanthropy,” said Natalie Orfalea, addressing the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara’s annual luncheon on Jan. 28.

As chairwoman of the Orfalea Fund and co-founder of the Orfalea Family Foundation, Orfalea is an expert on collaborative giving, and was instrumental in developing her foundation’s partnership with the Women’s Fund. With Orfalea matching all of the money raised by the Women’s Fund, it was able to award $600,000 to support the work of eight local nonprofit organizations: Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, Casa Pacifica, Family Service Agency, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, Isla Vista Youth Projects, People’s Self-Help Housing, Storyteller Children’s Center and Transition House.

This brings the total amount given to the community by the Women’s Fund to $1,425,000, in just four short years of existence. The grassroots group was founded by a small group of women — chairwoman Carol Palladini and Perri Harcourt, Shirley Ann Hurley, Jean Kaplan, Dale Kern, Joanne Rapp, Elna Scheinfeld, Meredith Scott, Kay Stern, Anne Smith Towbes, Marsha Wayne and Fritzie Yamin — who were interested in contributing to the community without having to sell tickets, make decorations, solicit auction items or spend valuable resources to bring in funding for nonprofit organizations.

It’s a simple, yet powerful, idea that’s growing in the philanthropic community: Why not take the time, energy and money spent on producing and attending elaborate fund-raisers and write a single check once a year to put that money where it’s most needed.

The concept of giving circles — pooling resources with other donors to have a bigger impact — is catching on, too, not just with the Women’s Fund but within the Women’s Fund as well. To become a member of the Women’s Fund, a woman simply writes a tax-deductible check for $2,500 once a year and in return receives one vote to decide where the funds will be distributed. When the group started in 2004, it targeted women who could easily make the $2,500 donation required to participate.

In recent years, the circle of giving has widened to include group members — often younger women in the community who can’t afford the entire $2,500 donation — who pool their money and share one vote. SBParent.com has put together two of these groups, and there are 28 other sets of women who are neighbors, coworkers, friends and acquaintances who also contributed to the fund as group members, with anywhere from two to 12 members pooling their funds to come up with the required $2,500.

The idea of the money donated going directly to help people, rather than being spent on events or fund-raising expenses appealed to SBParent’s Julie Sorenson and Rachael Steidl. Other members said they joined the group to meet like-minded women or to learn more about the nonprofit organizations serving the community. Assisted by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the research committee does all the legwork to identify causes that align with the Women’s Fund goal of giving to meaningful projects affecting women, children and families.

The largest gift awarded by the Women’s Fund this year was a $150,000 leadership grant to Storyteller Children’s Center, for its $2.5 million expansion campaign that will be launched in 2008. Storyteller, which provides high-quality free preschool for homeless and at-risk children, will use the funds to help establish a second center on De la Vina Street. The organization will serve 1,000 homeless and at-risk children and their families in the next decade, said executive director Terri Allison.

“One in every five children in Santa Barbara County lives in poverty,” Allison said. And while these funds will greatly expand the availability of services, “for every child who joins Storyteller, we must place one on our waiting list.”

Family Service Agency’s 211 Human Services Helpline was awarded $95,000, an amount that will provide one-third of the funding needed to carry on the operation of the helpline when government funds expire in 2008.

Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara was awarded $85,000 to pay for a licensed social worker to recruit, screen, train and support 20 foster families, doubling the number of infants and toddlers that were placed in foster care in 2007.

“These parents risk their own broken hearts,” said executive director Meichelle Arntz, “and this money allows us to provide them with additional support.”

Isla Vista Youth Projects, which lost state funds in 2007, received $60,000 for a family advocate and counselor for one year. This gap funding will restore programs to keep low-income families healthy through regular medical and dental care.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara was awarded $55,000 for its Teen Mentoring Program. Thise program expansion will allow girls 13 to 18 years old to participate in Girls Inc. for the first time locally. In the past the agency only served girls up to age 12.

Casa Pacifica received $55,000 to purchase three cars to enable caseworkers and mental health professionals to deliver 24/7 mobile emergency services for youth in immediate psychiatric crisis and to provide assistance for families with youth who are at risk for being placed in foster care.

People’s Self-Help Housing was granted $50,000 to fund a third educator for its year-round specialized mentoring learning program that serves school-aged children in low-income families.

Transition House also received $50,000, which will provide gap funding for the salary of one case manager for a year. Transition House case managers meet one-on-one with at-risk families to craft solutions to help them restore self-sufficiency.

As if helping these worthy organizations weren’t reward enough, oversight committee chairwoman Jo Gifford told the crowd of approximately 150 women that she recently learned that givers are happier than nongivers, less depressed, and full of the hormones that reduce stress.

“So with that in mind, I stand before the happiest, least depressed and least stressed women in Santa Barbara,” she said.

For more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara visit www.womensfundsb.org or contact Jo Gifford at 805.969.3320 or mjog@cox.net.

Originally published in Noozhawk and SBParent.com on January 30, 2008.

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007

Treat Your Children Well

© Kornilovdream | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Kornilovdream | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A Look at Some of the Nonprofits Serving Children

What could be a more universal cause than striving to give children a brighter tomorrow and a more fulfilling future? Literally hundreds of opportunities exist to give back to children in the community. Unfortunately, we can’t include them all. Here’s a look at just a few of the many organizations working to on behalf of children’s issues and the solutions to their problems in the areas of at-risk youth; education; arts; and medical, emotional and physical health and safety.

Family Service Agency is Santa Barbara County’s first and oldest non-profit human service agency, offering several programs, including Healthy Start, which connects at-risk families with existing community resources; the Family Build Project, which addresses the needs of families living in government subsidized housing; and a variety of counseling and child guidance programs.

Another veteran organization offering a variety of services to at-risk children and others is the United Boys and Girls Clubs. It has been working with young people in town since 1945, and now has four clubhouses that offer day care, summer camps, and a plethora of programs including sports, art, academics and leadership development. While the organization once emphasized servicing children from disadvantaged backgrounds, “today we’re open to everyone, because all children are at risk,” says Executive Director Sal Rodriguez.

Also serving both at-risk youth and the wider community is the Police Activity League (PAL), which offers opportunities for instruction in art, digital editing, hip hop dance, martial arts, and basketball, as well as a tutoring center and a teen youth leadership council that are open to all children. PAL also has a Campership Alliance Program that collaborates with a number of organizations–including the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, United Boys & Girls Clubs, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara YMCA, Santa Barbara Zoo, Refugio Junior Lifeguard Program, Elings Park Camps and Money Camp for Kids –to provide summer camp scholarships.

Endowment for Youth Committee is another broad-reaching organization, which provides a wide variety of educational, social, cultural and recreational achievement programs for children, with a special emphasis on assisting African American, Native American and Latino youth.

Girls Inc. also offers an expansive array of programs, but with an all-girl atmosphere that emphasizes learning to resist gender stereotypes and encouraging girls to take risks, acquire skills, gain confidence, become self-reliant, and practice leadership. Girls are also front and center for Affirm, another program that works only with girls, in this case focusing on empowerment, education, and identity for teenagers that are in the juvenile correction system.

Kids in trouble are also the focus for Noah’s Anchorage, operated by the YMCA. The group provides a Youth Crisis Shelter, which is the only program in Santa Barbara County that offers year-round 24-hour access to counseling, shelter, referrals, food and clothing for runaways, homeless youth and youth in crisis.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program, run by Family Service Agency, also targets at risk youth, matching them up with adult mentors who provide positive role models and a one-on-one relationship. Another mentorship-based program is the Wilderness Youth Project, which offers after school, weekend and summer programs that utilize “nature-based mentoring,” where being out in nature facilitates crucial life lessons and connection with the natural world.

Working on the health and wellness front is CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation), which acts to prevent child abuse from occurring and offers professional treatment for the entire family when abuse does occur. CALM works closely with police, the district attorney, child protective services and medical personnel to investigate alleged abuse in a supportive and child-friendly fashion.

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is another organization that works with entire families, endeavoring to ensure that children with cancer receive the undivided comfort of their parents during the treatment and recovery process. Teddy Bear provides financial aid for rent, mortgage, utilities, and car payments, as well as other supportive services, thereby allowing families to focus on their children. “Teddy Bear is unique in that it adapts to each family’s distinct needs. We don’t provide just one service–we do whatever’s needed to help,” said Founder/Executive Director Nikki Katz.

On the education front, the Children’s Project is focused on developing an innovative boarding school and college preparatory academy for foster children and selected youth with mental health or delinquency issues. “People often ask me, ‘Why foster children? So many kids need help.’ While that is true, there is one big difference that separates foster youth from others in need. That is that we not only have a moral obligation to help them…we have a legal obligation. …The moment the judge removes the child from a parent’s care, WE become the parents to that child. We, as the community, step into that role. And I am convinced we can do a better job,” says Founder and CEO Wendy Read.

Another education nonprofit, the Computers for Families program, seeks to eliminate the negative consequences of the Digital Divide by providing students from low-income families with refurbished computers, Internet access and training. Thanks to this innovative program, Santa Barbara will be the first community in the United States to ensure that every child from a low-income family, beginning in the fourth grade, has a computer with Internet access.

For more than 43 years, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has helped local students pay for their higher education, giving out more than $7 million in student aid for the last school year.

Emphasizing the arts is Art Walk for Kids, an outreach program that focuses on benefiting special needs, developmentally disabled, at risk, terminally ill youth and adults in their positive environments through a specialized curriculum of art and vocational education. Art Walk projects have benefited a diverse group of nonprofits, including the United Nations, Summit for Danny, United Way, the Red Cross, Sarah House, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Lobero Theatre, I Madonnari, the Multi-Cultural Dance and Music Festival, Vieja Valley School, Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall, El Puente School, and Hillside House, among others. Its latest collaboration is with the Patricia Henley Foundation, a new nonprofit that offers unique, free opportunities for students to learn all aspects of theatre arts production and develop their creative talents.

The Family Therapy Institute’s Academy of Healing Arts for Teens (AHA!) also incorporates creative expression into its programs, which emphasize the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers, and helps them learn to set goals, stop bullying and hatred, support their peers, and serve their community.

These excellent organizations are but a small percentage of all of the nonprofits serving children in Santa Barbara. For a more comprehensive list visit the Family Service Agency referral service at www.211sbcounty.org/.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine