The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is finding new ways to support its community partners while staying safe and healthy.
This year, several members wrote messages of hope to the women who will be staying in San Diego Rescue Mission’s Nueva Vida Haven emergency overnight shelter. In May, the RSF Women’s Fund donated $39,000 toward Nueva Vida Haven’s bathroom remodel, which created a more usable and updated facility for the women and children staying there.
“Women in crisis need to know that they matter, that they are worthy, and that they are loved,” said volunteer coordinator Ellie Cunningham. “We need to support each other by planting seeds of hope through words of encouragement.”
A second community-oriented volunteer opportunity supported another local organization, Just in Time for Foster Youth, which received a $34,000 grant in May. Dozens of Women’s Fund members donated personal care items, including shampoo, soap, and toothpaste, and fun items like gum, mints, and tea. There were enough donated items to fill 48 care packages.
“One of the things I love about the women’s fund is that we have a continuing relationship with the organizations to whom we grant funds. It is joyous to know that we may have brought a smile to the foster youth going through a particularly difficult time on their own. Even a small gesture lets them know others care about them,” said Nikki Carmody Ream, grants co-chair care packages.
The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund has granted over $4 million since founding in 2004, and provides many ways for members to make meaningful contributions to local nonprofits. The Fund has tentative plans to host its annual Bubbles and Blanca event in January, as well as a speaker meeting in February (hybrid or via zoom depending on restrictions at that time). If you are interested in learning more about the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, go to their new website, www.rsfwomensfund.org.
Rescue Mission to reopen shelter for women, children
After closing months ago, bathroom improvements were made and rooms rearranged for social distancing
Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the Rescue Mission, stands in Nueva Vida Haven, the emergency shelter for women and children run by the San Diego Rescue Mission. It’s set to open by the weekend.,
By Gary Warth
Four months after fears of the coronavirus led to the San Diego Rescue Mission closing its nightly emergency shelter for women and children, the nonprofit is planning to reopen it this week with improvements and new safety steps to create social distancing.
“Now we have to figure out the long play,” said Paul Armstrong, vice president of programs at the mission. “This isn’t going away. This isn’t going to be just a couple of months. This is the new normal.”
Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the Rescue Mission, said he grew concerned about the safety of people at the shelter known as Nueva Vida Haven after a couple of women became ill and were taken to a hospital by ambulance.
While they didn’t test positive for the coronavirus, the incidents were a wake-up call. The city had similar concerns about the bridge shelters it operated and responded by closing them down and moving hundreds of people into the San Diego Convention Center in April.
The Rescue Mission allowed women and children to stay for 30 nights at the shelter, but each adult had to meet with a case worker to learn about programs that could help them overcome homelessness and other related issues. Any vacant beds also were available for newcomers each night
At the time it closed March 31, the shelter was hosting 37 single women and five women with children. Single women were transferred to a shelter program Father Joe’s Villages was operating at the time in Golden Hall, and women with children later found shelter through the Salvation Army and Door of Hope.
The Rescue Mission also closed its thrift stores and put about 200 people in its Mission Academy residential program in quarantine, restricting them from leaving the building.
“We said the best place to be is here,” Dee said.
Armstrong, who had been chief programs officer at the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, joined the Rescue Mission in May. As weeks passed, he and Dee were troubled by the empty beds in the emergency shelter.
But there was a silver lining. Knowing they would someday reopen Nueva Vida Haven, the mission took advantage of the vacant shelter with a long-needed expansion of the bathrooms, which had only three showers. Women staying at the shelter routinely would miss out on a chance to shower, but were allowed to be first in line the next day.
The expansion will provide enough showers for everybody each night. Dee said the work passed a fire inspection Friday, a final inspection was scheduled for Tuesday, and the shelter is expected to fully reopen by the weekend.
A portion of the shelter already has been reopened. About four weeks ago, the mission repurposed two vacant rooms that had been part of its former transitional housing program. Eight beds were moved into each room as the first step in reopening Nueva Vida Haven, and the mission has worked with the county’s 2-1-1 referral line and San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Teams to bring in people.
Beds inside the main room have been rearranged so people sleep feet-to-head, reducing the chance of the virus spreading, and a full row of bunk beds will remain empty to increase space.
The 16 beds in the two other rooms will offset the loss of beds in the main room, Armstrong said. To reduce the number of people in the dining room, people from the shelter will be served dinner in two shifts.
Armstrong said enrollment in Mission Academy declined from about 200 to 70 since they stopped taking in new students in March, but students are being accepted again and he expects the academy to be back to its original size soon.
The name plate on the bench commemorating the life and legacy of RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize.
JULY 30, 2020--2:46 PM
The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund recently announced that a bench commemorating the life and legacy of its founder, Gayle Gillies-Mize, is now installed in the very heart of the community she so humbly served for over 50 years. Gillies-Mize founded the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund in 2004 in an effort to engage women in collective philanthropy. Since that time, the RSF Women’s Fund has awarded over $4 million in grants to local and regional nonprofit organizations, and touched the lives of thousands.
Next time you’re in the RSF Village, head toward the large oak tree at the southwest corner of Village Park. Like Gillies-Mize, the bench underneath that tree will serve as a pillar of philanthropy, and encourage members of the community to engage in thoughtful conversations for years to come.
A dedication ceremony will be held later this year (to be announced).
To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, visit rsfwomensfund.org, contact Korri Ball (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Judy Oliphant (email@example.com) for membership information, or attend an RSFWF event this fall, pending COVID-19 restrictions:
Sept. 10: “Mix & Mingle” lunch (Pony Room, Rancho Valencia)
Week of Sept. 14: 2020 Grant Celebration
Week of Sept. 21: 2021 Grants Kickoff
Oct. 14: “Mix & Mingle” Happy Hour (member’s private residence)
Nov. 10: General/Speaker Meeting (RSF Golf Club)
Nov. 16: “Mix & Mingle” Happy Hour (member’s private residence)
Nov. 17: New Member Social (member’s private residence)
The bench commemorating the life and legacy of RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize.
MAY 23, 2020--12:20 PM
A site visit to the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. WRC will receive $31,750 for its “Bright Futures Transition Housing Program.” (L-R): RSF Women’s Fund members Kathy Stumm, Franci Free, Cynthia Hudson, Nikki Ream, WRC employee, RSF Womens’ Fund member Allison Williams, and WRC employee.
The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund has pooled member funds to relieve suffering and to support communities throughout North County San Diego through cash grants totaling over $4 million during the past 16 years.
This year, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Grant Team (Cynthia Hudson, Mary Consalvi, Alchera Ayyad, Mara Buchholz, and Nikki Carmody Ream, along with their work groups) had to repeatedly adapt the Women’s Fund’s established rigorous vetting process. When the coronavirus made physical site visits to the potential grantee organizations impossible, the Grant Team quickly rescheduled the remaining trips to “Virtual Site Visits” using various videoconferencing applications. Then, when the voting presentations and selection process could no longer be made at a RSF Women’s Fund General Membership meeting due to social isolation guidelines, this process was moved online. Potential grantees submitted brief video presentations and members were able to view the presentations and vote online through the organization’s website.
The RSF Women’s Fund has voted to fund the following 10 significant projects in the community totaling $357,000:
Feeding San Diego – Feeding Heroes Initiative - $50,000
Mama’s Kitchen - Cancer Nutrition Program - $50,000
Operation Homefront – Transitional Housing Village for Military Families - $35,000
Vision of Children – When Vision Becomes Reality - $21,750
zero8hundred – Military Transition Support Project - $21,750
Refuge for Women – Refuge for Women - $50,000
Just in Time Foster Youth – Rise2Resilience - $34,000
San Diego Rescue Mission - Emergency Overnight Women & Children’s Shelter Bathroom Remodel - $39,000
Elder Help - Senior Housing Services - $23,750
Women’s Resource Center - “Bright Futures” Transition Housing Program - $31,750.
Per Candise Holmlund, RSF Women’s Fund advisory chair, the membership tentatively plans to celebrate the grantees and the RSF Women’s Fund’s record-setting grant season with the new grant cycle kickoff in the fall. Holmlund states, “We look forward to celebrating the success of our grantees along with the continued vision of our original members and founder, Gayle Gillies Mize. Gayle’s legacy is one we are committed to growing for many years to come.”
In light of the COVID situation, the membership’s focus this year pivoted nimbly to awarding money where they thought they could best serve the community with immediate relief. Says Grant Co-Chair Mary Consalvi, “Every year we receive applications for more grants than we can possibly fund. Our vetting process is rigorous, and in the final analysis, the decision is made by a membership-wide vote. This year it is apparent that our members were looking to help organizations at the forefront of providing assistance to those who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. I am really proud of our choices this year, and am happy to be a part of such a generous and civic-minded group of women.”
A site visit to Mama’s Kitchen prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. Mama’s Kitchen will be receiving $50,000 for its “Cancer Nutrition Program.” (L-R) RSF Woman’s Fund members Allison Williams, Mary Consalvi, Judy Oliphant, Site Visit Leader Danya Pineda, and Mama’s Kitchen Director.
In addition, to address immediate urgent needs, the Advisory Board voted to contribute a portion of the annual interest from the Gayle Gilles Mize Memorial Endowment Fund in the amount of $7,000 to support the North County COVID-19 Response Fund at the RSF Foundation. This fund immediately assists nonprofit organizations working on the front lines to meet critical needs related to the COVID-19 crisis across the San Diego region.
Grant Co-Chair Cynthia Hudson said, “I joined the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund three years ago, when I moved here from Washington State, as a way to meet empowered local women who care about community and giving back. The way our organization came together in the last month to ensure that we completed our grant cycle, to help keep our local nonprofits doing good at a time when their services are needed more than ever, cemented my faith in our group. The members stepped up and got it done. RSF Women’s Fund puts a lot of time into researching the organizations we fund, but we also put a lot of heart into what we do. The members care about the people of San Diego. I love doing good with a community of other people, and the Fund has been a wonderful way of achieving that goal.”
Here are a few of the “Thank You’s” received from the recipients of the cash grants:
To join in support of these organizations that need aid more than ever, visit rsfwomensfund.org or contact RSF Women’s Fund at (760) 230-2761 for more information.
Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund
Established in 2004 | tax #95-3709639
162 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road, Suite B30, Encinitas, CA 92024
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