Many Thanks…during the month of November, I felt gratitude everywhere: from the volunteers to CEOs, from our community partners to my staff—they all help orchestrate efforts on behalf of San Diego’s children, young adults, and families every day of the year. I especially want to thank all the longtime supporters of United Way, present and past, who we’ll honor month by month as we begin our Centennial Celebration in 2020. So much to be thankful for as we look forward to a new decade!
As we enter into the season for giving thanks and celebrating the year, I attended the MAAC Soiree to kick it all off. MAAC works in many areas including economic development, education, health and well-being, housing, advocacy, and leadership development. These programs are interconnected to help families enhance their own lives through lifestyle changes. Congratulations Arnulfo Manriquez, CEO, for a wonderful, fun, and educational event.
Nov 3 & 4:
As Chair of the Planning Committee for National Philanthropy Day, this was a busy two days! I’m thankful for the many volunteers who gave up a Sunday afternoon to help set up. On Monday, it was an honor to recognize the awardees who give so much back to our community in terms of their time, talents, and/or treasures. The honorees were:
Outstanding Philanthropists – Bob & Marion Wilson
Outstanding Development Professional – Todd Kaprielian
Outstanding Philanthropic Business – Frank Motors
Outstanding Organizational Volunteers – Michael & Lisa Peckham
Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer – Jack Raymond
Outstanding Youth/Student Volunteer – Noun Abdelaziz
Outstanding Grant Making Organization – Foundation for Development Disabilities
And a special thank you to Sempra Energy as our presenting sponsor and keynote speaker, Dennis V. Arriola, Executive VP & Group President, Sempra Energy
Rick Gentry has led the San Diego Housing Commission since September 2008. Today, the Housing Commission is considered a model public housing agency in the nation, and tonight, they celebrated their 40th anniversary! Working closely with the City of San Diego and the Regional Taskforce for the Homeless, the Housing Commission sets the stage for providing housing assistance to thousands of San Diego households.
We held our traditional Meet & Greet for new employee, Jake Montgomery. Within the first week of joining United Way, we create a time to meet all together (as many as can join) to welcome the new employee, find out more about them, and answer questions the new employee might have about the organization. Welcome to Jake, who joins our IT department!
Many thanks to Lisette Islas at MAAC for the invitation to join them at the Southwestern College Jaguar Awards. It’s always inspiring to hear the stories of those whose path to success includes pitfalls that would overwhelm many. So often, at some point in their stories they must dig deep within and decide they are going to do everything in their power to overcome the challenges. When they succeed, it is a heartwarming story. Not to take away from that success, but at United Way, we work to ensure a smooth educational pathway to help young people learn to succeed and learn to earn.
Wow – what a day! I attended the Business Women of the Year luncheon hosted by San Diego Business Journal at the Hilton Bayfront. What a surprise when I heard my name called as one of the honorees! It was definitely an honor and one that truly humbles me.
San Diego Grantmakers, led by CEO Debbie McKeon, brought an interesting initiative to San Diego called ImPower, focusing on place-based impact investing and the resources available, especially in the federal government. ImPower will be hosted in conjunction with the San Diego Impact Investors Network and Director of Impact Investments, Robert Foster.
As we prepare for our Centennial Year in 2020, we are recording some of our longtime supporters. Today we recorded Grant Benning, who used to run our Loaned Executives program. What a hoot to recall with him how he brought the community leaders together to run a fundraising campaign! Look for snippets of these conversations throughout 2020…
This evening, I joined a table hosted by Nancy Jamison (new Mid-City CAN board member) and Mark Dillon at the Mid-City CAN gala. Congratulations to Diana Ross, Executive Director, for a wonderful first annual event! Mid-City Community Advocacy Network works within City Heights to collaborate, advocate, and organize its citizens to create the community they envision. The teams are focused on Food Justice, Improving Transportation, Peace Promotion, and Youth Council.
Each year, our Women United affinity group invites UWSD staff to their annual investment meeting to learn about upcoming or ongoing projects they may be interested in funding. This year, staff presented three ideas: Seed funding to support social and emotional learning; Match funding to support family stability; and board service training. After a week of online voting, the results were in: 40% each to the first two options and 20% to board service training. We are so thankful for Women United’s support of UWSD!
One of the many fun things we get to do at United Way is to distribute 1,200 Build-A-Bears donated by the Build-A-Bear Foundation! Today I joined staff from UPS, board member Tony Russell, and UWSD staff to distribute bears to the kids at Rady’s Alexa’s PLAYC (Playful Learning Academy for Young Children). What a joy to see the smiles on the faces of these little ones! Bringing a little joy and calm to their busy days also helps them learn.
That afternoon, I attended the luncheon hosted by Anahid Brakke, Executive Director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition. As they strive for a Hunger Free San Diego, it was interesting to learn about food insecurity and how changes in federal funding would have a devastating impact on the distribution of food throughout San Diego County. One in 5 kids don’t always have enough to eat in our county. And in case you think it is primarily the homeless who need food, 55% of adults experiencing food insecurity are employed and 43% are working full-time! That’s why United Way, through our Unions United, is helping to distribute food to those who are food insecure.
That evening, I went to the Wave Academy gala hosted by Executive Director Elizabeth Berg. I learned so much about how wave therapy is helping veterans diagnosed with PTS. They have discovered the profound and positive impact it has on military personnel, and the client story we heard was emotional. Congratulations to Elizabeth and her staff for their amazing work!
Saturday night with the Black Chamber of Commerce was an exciting time! It was my great fortune to be a part of the Honorary Committee supporting Dr. Constance Carroll who received a Lifetime Leadership award. As Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District since 2004, Dr. Carroll has overseen the transformation of the second largest community college district in California to include unprecedented student success, the launch of the Promise Program, and extensive new construction activity.
By now you’ve probably heard of our work in partnership with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation in the Advancing San Diego project. The other partners include the City of San Diego, the San Diego & Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA), and the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Today we had a partner meeting to provide updates on our progress to date. Congratulations to UWSD’s James McConchie, Manager of Data & Evaluation, for his presentation on the structure of the evaluation process that was approved by the national evaluator.
UWSD runs an annual employee giving campaign much like our other workplace giving programs. Each year I take those who have given at the $1,000 leadership or greater to lunch to thank them for their support of our work. Many, many thanks to all those who are leadership gift donors!
I also met with Jerry Sanders, CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Allison Phillips, Director of Communications, to provide an update on United Way. We also talked about how we can partner in 2020 in celebration of our Centennial Year!
As we end the month of November with the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. At our annual potluck, we shared stories about a memorable Thanksgiving, and I was reminded that not everyone around the world celebrates this holiday. Many staff talked about their first Thanksgivings in the U.S., and the common theme was how welcoming and family-like our setting seemed. I definitely give thanks for my family and all my friends who also feel like family.