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Stories of Philanthropy

At the Santa Barbara Foundation, we know that in order to strengthen philanthropy in our community, we must continually strive to strengthen our own philanthropic values. Each day, our leadership and staff works with foundation donors, nonprofits and community partners to further the common good of Santa Barbara County. Beyond that, many members of our team also serve the community through volunteering, fundraising and leadership roles. In doing so, they not only desire to give back, but also hope to learn new perspectives on philanthropy and gain insight into how they can enhance their professional lives to help the foundation better serve the community. We are proud to be part of such an active philanthropic community and hope that sharing our stories with you will give you a different view of our work and community engagement.

Coperachas by The Dozen

I grew up in a traditional, large Latino family with 11 siblings, in a three-bedroom house, “chile con carne,” and a whole lot of love. We grew up knowing that we take care of our elders, the young and our community. We were a very full dozen, so it was pretty natural that my older sisters helped my mother raise the younger siblings in El Sitio, Zacatecas, Mexico first, and then later in Santa Barbara. Read More...

Because We All Need Help Sometimes


Each year, four million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized, in American shelters, simply for lack of a good home. Not only is this number staggering, it brings into question what is a “good home.” Is it a soft bed in a big house with a large yard and gourmet food? Maybe. Yet, there’s the other type of good home – those where love is all that matters. Read More...

A Culture of Philanthropy

I was born in a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico and into a big family that had little to their name. Even though we had very little, we were part of a community that shared and gave much more in so many ways. I remember how my mom would give our neighbors tortillas if they were going through a hard financial patch. I remember how neighbors would come together and gather funds for a burial of a community member that did not have the means to bury their loved one. Read More...

What Life Is All About


It is midnight on a Tuesday with frost on the roof, and I’m shivering in layers of blankets on pull out couch in the hospital. Yes, this is miserable. Yes, I’m whining. But when I see my mom’s eyes open just a few hours later, nothing else in the world matters. Read More...

Charles and Me

My friend Charles and I have been friends for over 25 years. We attend a men’s group together, and have a lot of fun hanging out. Recently, Charles needed to sell his car to help out with his living expenses. Charles asked me if I would help him place an advertisement to sell his car on Craigslist. I said, “Sure! Bring your car over to my house, I will take a few pictures and post the ad for you.” Read More...

Once You've Struggled


Growing up in the south side of Oxnard can be a difficult place to live depending on your situation. My situation could have been difficult, but I learned many lessons that helped me make safe choices. One of the most important things I learned growing up in Oxnard is that boredom is a dangerous thing. It is especially dangerous during a teen’s transition to adulthood. Read More...

The Power of Thank You

It’s five o’clock on Monday night and I am swearing at every single car on the 101 because, yes, it is, in fact, everyone else’s fault that I am going to be late. I mean, come on. It is not my fault that I got held up at work. It is also not my fault I didn’t decide to take a back road. It is definitely not my fault that I forgot I had plans with friends right after this. So, when I finally arrive at Villa Majella of Santa Barbara – actually not late might I add – I am stressed out, annoyed and an all-together unpleasant human being, who plans to leave as soon as I put down the meal that I volunteered to make for its residents. Read More...

Good for the Heart


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.” Read More...

What is Philanthropy?

“Oh gosh, I don’t know!” “I don’t have one, will you tell me?” “The study of insects.” “An artist.” “I can’t even pronounce it.” These were some of the answers to the question “what is philanthropy?” as posed in a popular fast-paced video that offers a realistic – and often humorous – glimpse of how the public understands philanthropy, using a series of “people-on-the-street” interviews. So what is the definition of philanthropy? The word comes from the Greek, meaning ‘love for humanity.’ Modern definitions include the concept of voluntarily giving by an individual or a group to promote the common good and improve the quality of life. Read More...

The Vulnerable Voice


Racism, bigotry, prejudice, and hate is a problem in America.You find it on the news and you hear it in stories from friends. In some instances, it happens explicitly. In other situations, however, it is implicit.Have you ever stopped and wondered - have I, or a person I know, perpetuated symptoms of racism and bias implicitly? For me, I have considered this and found although I mean well, I sometimes miss the mark and need to be more conscious about my subconscious thoughts. I feel that others, like me, may struggle with this. This is why I work to help educate our community on Implicit Bias. Read More...

Adventures in Philanthropy

I have always been health conscious, at least for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, meals were balanced and portions were reasonable, but the menu was limited to traditional American food. As a young adult, I was introduced to ethnic foods and was open to trying everything, even octopus, menudo and escargot. Read More...

Gratitude: Why I Continue to Give


I believe giving back is part of my DNA as a human being. It’s what being in a community is all about—depositing my time, talent and treasure in places where my passion meets the need. Contributing expands my heart and mind in ways I never imagined. I’ve met interesting people, learned new skills, gained knowledge and insight that have helped inform my work and further my connections. Read More...

Small Tweaks, Big Changes

7 minutes...14 minutes…21 minutes…suddenly 28 to 42 minutes later, I jolt up out of bed. No matter how good my intentions were to wake up early, the snooze button had a grip on me! Snooze and I had a relationship founded upon the mutual disapproval of another—the alarm clock. While I knew our relationship was unhealthy, the snooze button had grown to be a consistent friend who showed up every morning to help me stay in my cozy bed for just a little bit longer. Read More...

Life's Stages


I like to tell my college students that we proceed through life’s stages. They are still in their first stage, Life 1.0, of obtaining mental and physical growth and maturity and becoming well-educated and thoughtful persons for their adult lives. This Life 1.0 frequently extends beyond college into graduate and professional schools, travel, internships and volunteering. Read More...

SAY YES!

SAY YES! This is one of my three life mottos. It is the one that has brought me the most joy and sometimes the most challenge. I like to say “yes” as often as possible and always when I feel I have nothing to lose. I have said “yes” to many philanthropic opportunities from being a room parent to chairing charity events and hosting Olympic athletes, to leading an inaugural annual campaign and being an integral part of a successful capital campaign. Read More...

"The Good Tired"


In 2009, I was working in the nonprofit sector when I was accepted into the sixth class of the Katherine Harvey Fellows, which is a leadership development program that serves local nonprofit agency. During a break at one of our first meetings, I had the pleasure of chatting with our class’ esteemed mentor, the late Peter Karoff. Read More...

Leaders Matter. Aligning Philosophy with Philanthropy

My bookcase is packed with books on leadership. From Dale Carnegie to Og Mandino to Peter Drucker… I’ve read and re-read these books over the years to (as Stephen Covey would say) “sharpen my saw” because I believe leaders matter. I have had the experience of working at great companies that invest in leadership development, including Xerox, Procter & Gamble, and Disney. Read More...

'amuyich: Spirit of Generosity


I introduce you to Irene. An intellectually curious person, she was genuinely interested in others and the world we live in. She possessed a refined sensitivity about people - their suffering, their joy, their unrealized potential. She was a cook throughout her life, in café’s, diners, restaurants, school cafeterias. I don’t doubt that her calling to feed people in the literal sense poised her to influence people in ways unexpected and profound. Read More...

Did you smile at me?

I heard the motor scooter before I could see it. Cheri was home from work, early for a Tuesday. This happened twice a month. She parked her scooter, goes inside to get her uniform and mine, some special leashes for me, treats, and loads me into my van. Off we drove to Oak Park, a modest size public park close to the hospital where we volunteered. Together we walked around the park so I can sniff, pee, poop and stretch my legs before starting work. Read More...

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