On May 2, 2018, more than 400 members and guests of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara gathered at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort (formerly Fess Parker) for their 14th annual Presentation of Grants, where they awarded $535,000 to seven area nonprofits.
An all-volunteer, collective donor group with nearly 900 members, the Women’s Fund combines the donations of its members into significant grants focused on the critical needs of women, children and families in south Santa Barbara County. Such a large turnout reflected the high level of interest members have in helping meet the community’s needs, or as the organization’s motto states, “changing lives together.”
The organization holds no fundraisers, all funds come from member contributions. Over the course of nearly a year, its Research Committee conducts in-depth research of programs of area nonprofits and submits a ballot of finalists to the general membership for a vote on the ultimate grantees. Applications are by invitation only. The organization is in growth mode; it added 195 members last year.
During the program, Steering Committee Co-chair Laurie Tumbler explained that the Women’s Fund is “a volunteer-driven organization based on a simple, creative model—women combining our charitable donations so we can make a larger impact on the community than most of us would be able to accomplish on our own. We strive to be educated, strategic givers working to make a difference in the lives of women, children and families in our community.”
Research Committee Co-chair Sandy Schoolfield introduced each grant recipient and briefly described what was being funded. The recipient explained how the funds will assist the organization, with some sharing touching stories of individual clients served that demonstrated the need for funding and how the grant will change lives.
A particularly moving speech was made by Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM) President Rolf Geyling, who shared his gratitude to the Women’s Fund for making sure women in crisis will receive emergency food, shelter, and compassionate care. He explained that the grant will go toward the $10 million comprehensive remodel of its aging facility. The SBRM is the only place providing walk-in shelter 365 days a year between Ventura and Santa Maria. Geyling related how the SBRM regularly has 24 to 30 women in need of shelter each night, but a makeshift space that accommodated only 13 of them. Its shower facility had to be used in shifts by gender and had only six showerheads for 120 guests. The Women’s Fund grant will go toward a new women’s dormitory accommodating 32 women and a dedicated bathroom facility for women. Geyling closed by thanking the Women’s Fund for helping to provide a comfortable place for women as they work through a crisis and in so doing, asserting the value and dignity of their clients in need.
A lively reception in the Grand Foyer followed.
At another gathering in the fall, members will get updates from the grantees on the use of their funds and they will have the opportunity to visit the nonprofits in small groups to learn more about the nonprofits’ work and the impact of the grants.
Since its founding in 2004, the Women’s Fund has made grants totaling more than $6.6 million. Membership in the organization is open to any woman; women can join as individuals or as a group. Volunteer positions are available, but most members make only a financial commitment. For more information, go to womensfundsb.org.
These grants were awarded:
CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse). $75,000 to provide mental health support to help prevent possible reoffending and incarceration of Teen Court youth.
Children’s Resource & Referral of S.B. County. $65,000 to provide quality child care and business development training for in-home family child care providers.
Santa Barbara Education Foundation. $50,000 for Dyslexia Intervention Program, which is a pilot program to remediate the effects of dyslexia in K-3 students in the Santa Barbara School District.
Goleta Education Foundation. $50,000 for the Early Childhood Classroom Behavior Intervention Program, which responds to disruptive classroom behavior for 3-5 year olds in the Goleta Union School District.
Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. $95,000 to partially fund the purchase of a new refrigerated box truck that will collect, store and distribute fresh food, reduce food waste, and meet new emission requirements.
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. $100,000 to increase the number of beds and build bathroom facilities for women needing emergency shelter.
United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County. $100,000 to replace and rebuild sections of leaking roof for its Carpinteria clubhouse that serves low-income youth.
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