On May 1, more than 450 members and guests of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara gathered at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort for their 15th annual Celebration of Grants, where $585,000 was awarded to nine area nonprofits.
A volunteer-led, collective donor group with nearly 1,000 members, the Women’s Fund combines its members’ donations into large grants focused on the needs of women, children and families in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria. 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, goes on site visits, decides on the finalists, and submits the list of finalists to the general membership for a vote.
Upon accepting the award at the event, each grant 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.
The event paid tribute to founder Carol Palladini for her exceptional leadership and dedicated service (Palladini does not live in the area and was not able to attend). Steering Committee Chair Shelley Hurst thanked Chuck Schlosser, who was Santa Barbara Foundation CEO when the Women’s Fund was founded in 2004 and invited it to be a Field of Interest Fund of the foundation. She thanked the foundation for all of its support the past 15 years and announced that as of January 1, 2020, the Women’s Fund will be its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Hurst remarked on how the Women’s Fund “Is very well respected. Where we go, others follow.” Time didn’t allow for examples, but there are legion — because of the rigorous nature of the Women’s Fund research and its track record, other grant-making entities and individuals look at whom the Women’s Fund has funded in making their own giving decisions.
Hurst eloquently concluded “Over the years, we’ve fed families, provided medical care to vulnerable women and helped young people realize their full potential. Together we’ve helped house seniors and the homeless, provided refuge for troubled teens and protected women and children from violence. We’ve saved newborns and provided dignity and comfort for those at the end of their lives. The more than $7.2 million we’ve given together since 2004 is more than a number. It represents people. Lives we helped change together.”
A lively reception in the Plaza del Sol followed. In the fall, the Women’s Fund will hold an educational series on issues addressed by the grantees. It will also hold small group visits to the grantees’ operations to give members a first-hand look. Membership in the Women’s Fund is open to any woman; women can join as individuals or as a group. Many volunteer positions are available, but most members make only a financial commitment. For more information, go to http:// womensfundsb.org.
These awards were made:
Alpha Resource Center – $65,000 to purchase a wheelchair accessible van for clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to volunteer at various locations and to attend fitness and recreation programs.
CALM – $55,000 for counseling services for low-income Carpinteria children having adverse early childhood experiences and for their families.
Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara – $50,000 to replace a 50-year-old, leaking roof at its Thrift Store, which supports its multitude of programs for low income residents.
Family Service Agency – $65,000 to expand the Holistic Defense Program in the Santa Barbara Public Defender’s office, which helps women stabilize their lives and reduce reoffending.
Isla Vista Youth Projects – $55,000 to expand its Family Advocate program in the Goleta Union School District, which helps low income parents obtain public assistance for basic needs.
PATH Santa Barbara – $50,000 to replace 50 bed bug-infested beds with new metal beds and bug resistant mattresses in the women’s quarters at its interim housing shelter.
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics – $70,000 to purchase a compact wheelchair platform for its Santa Barbara and Goleta dental clinics for low income special needs patients.
Sarah House – $95,000 for a complete renovation of a dilapidated kitchen, where meals are prepared at this hospice home for homeless and low income individuals, which served 70 individuals last year.
Transition House – $80,000 for its emergency shelter program for families with children, which recently lost significant government funding.
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