Give Now

Good for the Heart

By: Deanna Vallejo

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” -B.T. Washington

This is one of my favorite quotes. It speaks miles and I couldn’t agree more. As a mother of two amazing kiddos, it is my job as a parent to raise them to be good adults and to have good values. When I was young, my parents always taught us to help those in need and to give back. Even though I may not have understood why they taught us that at first, I soon learned that giving back and helping those less fortunate always leaves you with a greater appreciation for so many things in life. So, when I had my boys, I knew I had to teach them the importance of “giving back.”

In my book, giving back doesn’t always have to be a dollar contribution. It can be a contribution of your time and energy, food or even unwanted items that we no longer use. Each year during spring or fall cleaning, we donate items to a different local non-profit. This is just one of the ways that I lead by example. I have always loved to volunteer and, after I had children, I always made sure I volunteered at their schools. Whether I was on a committee, helping out one of their teacher out, baking goods for an event, participating in a fundraiser or donating classroom supplies, I have always made time to show my boys that giving back can be many different things.

I will never forget the day my youngest son, Richard (then 7 years old), came to me with some heart-breaking news. He was so sad as he began to tell me that one of his classmate’s homes had burned down in a fire. The family had lost everything and were staying a local hotel. Richard was determined to help this family out. He said “Mom, we have to put a care package together for them!’ He already had a plan and just needed help to execute it. We went over his little plan and put together a list of items we needed to gather. He also asked me to go through his closet and collect the jackets and other items of clothing that no longer fit him for his classmate’s younger brother. I was so amazed by his commitment to assist this family in their time of need that it brought tears to my eyes. We put the care package together, which consisted of canned food, clean blankets, towels and items of clothing. A few days after we left the care package for his classmate’s family, he told me we did such a good thing by giving back to this family who had nothing and it made his heart feel good. I couldn’t agree more with him. Helping others out truly does make your heart feel good. This was such a “Proud Mom” moment for me

Every night at the dinner table, the boys and I talk about the highs and lows of our day. I can’t wait to share with them the great things I get to be a part of every day working in community investments at the foundation. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work for an organization that not only thrives on giving back, but is also so invested in helping better our community. Being able to be involved in the work that I do impacts my professional life, but has such a huge effect on my personal life as well. Working so closely with all our local non-profits makes me want to get out and do more. I encourage you all to do the same, because as my son Richard says, “it will make your heart feel good.”

Deanna Vallejo is a community investment associate for the Santa Barbara Foundation.
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101