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Caring for Community

Geri Bidwell is a doer when it comes to helping her neighborhood. Whether dragging a dead branch to Reuben Ramirez’s wood chipper or consulting with Marc Appleton on designing a new gate, Bidwell, and all of her neighbors at Hope Ranch, know the importance of helping each other out to preserve their community. That is why they opened the Hope Ranch Beautification Fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“Whether repainting an old bridge or planting on an erosive hillside, working shoulder to shoulder with someone else doing the exact same thing that you are strengthens the community and allow us to do something good, no matter how small,” said Bidwell. “Blessing your own community by taking care of the small things can make lots of people flourish.”

The Hope Ranch Beautification Fund opened in the summer of 2017 after Pam Webber, Judy Whiting and Diane Scalapino approached the Santa Barbara Foundation about starting a fiscal sponsorship, which allows a group to use to the foundation’s legal and tax-exempt status. Some community members were frustrated that the Hope Ranch Riding and Trails Association (HRRTA) was narrowly focused on improving trails, which limited their ability to address broader initiatives, such as the maintaining the beach, schools and other projects in the neighborhood through donations. The establishment of the fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation has already brought the community together to implement $50,000 worth in improvements, including the removal of fire debris, rodent nest elimination, removal of palm tree stumps and adding night lighting, among other projects.

“Over 300 people came to attend our very first fundraiser, where we raised over $225,000,” said Bidwell. “With this type of money, we can help the HRRTA with things they could not do and, ultimately, we can help everyone. People give us money with the trust that we will put it back out there to make something good happen that they can see and that will affect others in their everyday life. That is community.”

Whatever the cause, the Santa Barbara Foundation is dedicated to helping individuals like Geri Bidwell put community first. For more information on how you can take the initiative to start a fund to better your own communities and neighborhoods, please visit our website or contact Jessica Sanchez, Donor Relations Manager, at
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