Tag Archives: charity

2020: A Challenging (and Rewarding) Year Like No Other…

2020 was a year like no other, and it confirmed for us that nothing – not even a worldwide pandemic – could hamper Unity Shoppe’s dedication to the people of Santa Barbara, especially those who felt most vulnerable or experienced sudden job loss and needed a place to turn during this crisis. 

Led by our fearless founder, Barbara Tellefson, we quickly moved into high gear, consolidating all of our programs and services down to distributing food alone in a way that was safe and would help as many people as possible without losing site of our 100-year-old mission: to offer people choice in what they receive and to do so without compromising their dignity or self-respect. 

We quickly secured PPE, kept our essential staff and our Community’s most at-risk members healthy and safe, followed all safety guidelines, and met intense cleanliness standards. By doing so we were able to accommodate residents who could shop at Unity directly and receive free groceries they picked out themselves: farm fresh fruits and vegetables, refrigerated dairy products, poultry and beef, bread and baked goods, and canned and boxed staples too. The need for food has been so critical over this past year that we worked hard to ensure our clients, many of whom were families of 4-5 people, could shop for everything they needed every other week (up from only once per month in pre-Covid times). Hours were extended and front of the line privileges and automatic car loading assistance was offered to anyone who needed it by our essential staff, much like at any other supermarket around town. But not everyone was able to shop in person; for immuno-compromised, disabled or homebound residents from Goleta to Carpinteria, we instituted a highly sought after delivery service of groceries they pre-selected and we delivered right to their door.

For more information about Unity Shoppe, visit www.unityshoppe.org.

Dine & Donate: Los Agaves to Donate Proceeds of April 21 Event to Friendship Center

In an event sponsored by the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR), Los Agaves Restaurant is cooking up an authentic Mexican meal for charity.

Meal pick-up is Wednesday, April 21 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. All proceeds support Friendship Center, an Adult Day Program located in Montecito and Goleta, providing programs that honor individuality, promote socialization, and foster a compassionate community for aging adults.

Follow this link to register: https://www.sbindytickets.com/events/111248192/dine-donate 

Please note, entree selections are chosen at the end of the checkout process, with your choice of enchiladas, taco bar or chicken fajitas, with options available. Generous portions with all the fixings are large enough for two or more people and include two margaritas. 

Contact Sophia Davis: sophia@friendshipcenter.org for more information about this event. Visit Friendship Center’s website at: https://www.friendshipcentersb.org.

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics Receives Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for Six Consecutive Years

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) is again proud to announce our sixth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. Less than 12% of charities receive six consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics continues to demonstrate strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. 

Since 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded their methodology for rating each charity’s financial health. These enhancements further substantiate the financial health of the 4-star charities. 

“This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness,” according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “We are proud to announce Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has earned our sixth consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way,” 

“Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.” 

The pandemic has challenged us like never before. Thanks to our amazing clinical staff, in collaboration with the skilled support staff and led by our competent administration leadership and selfless, dedicated volunteer board, we have remained open to serve our patients with respect and compassion as we struggled with this enormous challenge.” states Charles Fenzi, MD, CEO/CMO.” 

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics rating, and other information about charitable giving, are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org. More-detailed information about Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics rating is available to Charity Navigator site visitors who become registered users, another free service.

About SBNC

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is comprised of two dental clinics, four medical clinics, and three intermittent clinics, all offering behavioral health services, that served over 22,000 individuals in the community over the past year and is an independent, nonprofit health-care organization dedicated to providing high quality, affordable, medical, dental and behavioral healthcare to those in need in Santa Barbara County, regardless of one’s ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion and dignity.

About Charity Navigator 

Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health, Accountability and Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America’s charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452.

Taking Care of Those Who Take Care of Us

By the time the Thomas Fire turned toward Montecito in December 2017, Santa Barbara County’s first responders had already spent weeks preparing for the worst. 

Eric Phillips, whose home sits at 1,060 feet above the sea, knew his family was particularly exposed. When the fire struck, he didn’t need news reports because he watched from his security cameras. Firefighters scurried about as smoke poured over them. 

“It looked like midnight, but it was three in the afternoon,” he says. Then the cameras went out. “I figured ‘that’s it, the house is gone.’”

But it wasn’t. Like for so many others throughout the region, incredible effort by firefighters, police, and sheriff’s deputies paid off – saving homes and lives. “I was pretty blown away,” Phillips says. “I thought, ‘we have got to do something for these heroes.’” He and others considered a thank you barbeque.

Then, on January 9, 2018, a historic rain storm hit the scorched mountainsides causing the devastating debris flow that killed 23 of our neighbors. The weary first responders jumped into action again. 

With friends like Kirsten Cavendish & Richard Weston-Smith, John Thyne III, Ursula & Pat Nesbitt, Pat Smith and Sheila Herman, Phillips’ idea of a “little barbecue” to thank the first responders snowballed. In February 2018, these friends along with an army of volunteers, and a growing list of stars including Katy Perry, Alan Parsons, David Crosby, the group Wilson Phillips, David Foster and Kenny Loggins hosted “The Kick Ash Bash” on the grounds of Nesbitts’ Bella Vista Ranch. 

Battle-fatigued first responders, their families, and the community’s many thankful residents enjoyed a benefit concert with local celebrities, raising $2 million for charity. Supported by the likes of Yardi Systems, Inc., One805 immediately poured $1.4 million into three custom mobile command centers for the county’s fire, police, and sheriff’s departments to protect the community from future disasters. The safety of Santa Barbara county is central to the mission of One805.

“We quickly learned that [first responder] budgets move at a glacial pace,” Weston-Smith quips. “Real life doesn’t work like that. In a disaster, things are destroyed and they need up-to-date equipment and safety gear right away.”

Following the success of “The Kick Ash Bash”, Weston-Smith, Phillips, and Thyne launched One805, a nonprofit serving public safety agencies equitably across Santa Barbara county. The organization’s only staff member is Executive Director Angela Binetti Schmidt, the wife of a first responder herself. 

This low overhead and active board allows One805 to convert donations into fast action, quickly buying 45 decontamination foggers to protect the community from COVID-19, personal protective gear and other emergency equipment. The group collaborates with an advisory council made up of Department Heads from over a dozen Santa Barbara first responder agencies who decide where donations are needed most. 

One805 is also intent on supporting the mental health needs of our essential workforce, whose ranks regularly are witness to terrible tragedy.

Today, One805 is a permanent 501(c)(3) public charity, raising funds for Santa Barbara county public safety initiatives and assisting all three Fire, Police, and Sheriff Departments– purchasing equipment, counseling, and taking care of those who take care of us.

A Century of Dignity and Respect

For more than 100 years, Unity Shoppe, a multifaceted nonprofit serving Santa Barbara’s residents, has maintained an unwavering focus on dignity and respect in their service to others.

Today, the organization has grown to use every inch of its 31,000 square feet of building space to steadily serve 20,000 individuals referred by over 300 partner agencies across Santa Barbara County every year. In some 80,000 annual visits, clients come to Unity Shoppe’s Essential Services Center where they select from a wide array of nutritious groceries presented as if at a high-end food market; or families can shop for new clothes and school supplies entirely free-of-charge.

This question of choice is as old as Unity Shoppe itself. During the 1930s the organization heralded volunteers who amassed gifts to give to the working poor during the holiday season. Unity Shoppe, then called The Council of Christmas Cheer, had a clear policy regarding the paramount importance of client choice.

For Barbara Tellefson, who has run Unity Shoppe for nearly 50 years, this concept is what first attracted her as a volunteer, and what keeps her passionate about the organization well into her 80s.

“Dignity is essential to the human spirit,” Tellefson says. “It signals that you are valued for who you are, and how you live your life. We’ve never assumed we know better than the people we serve.They have their own ideas about what is important to them and their families. When we give them the opportunity to choose and then show respect for their decisions, we are saying ‘You are worthy; You CAN do it.’”

And Unity Shoppe is there every step on the journeys of its tens of thousands of clients. For those low-income men, women and youth who are actively seeking employment, the organization’s Job Smart program provides resumé assistance, job interview coaching, and appropriate work attire so they can put their best foot forward and land the job. When they are hired, they can choose more outfits to help them feel confident in their new workplace.

Every year, Unity Shoppe’s 1,700 volunteers ensure that all programs are imbued with respect and TLC towards clients. Many among the bevy of volunteers are seniors who do everything from hand-making and wrapping holiday gifts to assembling customized care packages for other seniors. Able-bodied and disabled youth volunteers are trained in practical job skills and gain valuable work experience, while others accrue necessary community service hours to complete high school.

For Tellefson this is the beauty of Unity Shoppe, “People from all walks of life, races, and religions join together to be of service to people that need help. We hear again and again from both clients and volunteers how Unity has changed their lives.”

Much More than Lights and Sirens

Firefighters do a lot more than fight fires. 

On any given day, Montecito Fire’s 33 active duty firefighters wake up to uncertainty, not knowing what emergency they will respond to next: trail rescues, sickness, trauma, structure or brush fires, mud flows, or even threats of a global pandemic. 

They are always there, and it is for this reason that we trust them with our lives. For the same reason, you can trust the Montecito Firefighters’ Charitable Foundation with your money. 

Founded in 2006, the foundation’s board is fully comprised of active duty firefighters whose mission is to “provide relief to the poor, disadvantaged, underprivileged, disaster victims and those facing emergency hardship situations based upon need (financial or other distress) at the time the assistance is given, specifically as related to children, firefighters and their families, and burn victims and their families.” With a minimal annual overhead of less than $15,000 for legal, accounting, and other administrative costs, virtually every dollar the foundation receives goes straight towards helping people. 

“We’re just firefighters,” says Aaron Briner, a founding board member and a department Battalion Chief. “We don’t know marketing. But we do know how to work really hard and mitigate your emergency.” 

As a charitable foundation, the Montecito Firefighters’ Charitable Foundation knows how to do one thing very well – issue responsive grants that deeply impact individuals. 

When 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in an Arizona inferno, the foundation provided support to their families. Similarly for an engineer, Cory Iverson, who died in the Thomas Fire. When a local foster youth wrote a letter explaining that she needed help paying for college, the foundation set up a fund. And when a severely handicapped child needed a new wheelchair, the foundation footed the bill. 

Like I said, firefighters – notably, your local Montecito firefighters – do much more than fight fires. The work of the foundation mirrors the work that they do every day: responding to whatever comes their way.  

For the charitable board, the work they do with the foundation is an extension of what they do every day on the engines. “It is simply another avenue to help assist people in their time of need and something I can be part of long after I retire from the fire service,” says Briner.  

Would you expect any less dedication from these public servants who put their lives on the line for this community every day?