CARLSBAD — One day about three years ago, Rita Pacheco was in Laguna Beach with her easel and paints, settling in for an afternoon of painting ocean scenes. As she worked, she realized she had set up at a place where the homeless gathered. Soon they were watching what she was doing and asking questions and before long they were all chatting up a storm.
Pacheco said as she spoke to them, she began to wonder why they were homeless. What had happened to them? They seemed pretty much like everyone else.
At about the same time, her paintings in her studio were overwhelming her and she needed to do a studio sale to make room for more paintings. A friend suggested she include some charity to help bring interest to the sale. It seemed a little selfish to Pacheco at first, but when she was able to donate $3,000 to the San Diego Rescue Mission, she was thrilled. She had chosen the mission because they do such “crazy good work” for the homeless. She and her husband had donated to it many times in the past and her friends from that afternoon in Laguna helped her make the decision.
This year after her sale, she was able to donate $1,600. She plans to make the sale an annual event that now has a name: HeARTfelt Hands.
Before she chose the mission as her charity, she took a tour given by Michelle Smith.
At the reception desk was greeted a “fully tatted man who looked like he was newly off the streets,” she said.
The mission provides meals, recuperative care, education and instruction in life skills for needy men women and children. They feed 1,400 people each and every day and more are waiting for help.
“The tour took 1 ½ hours and it was just me. I was so inspired by all the different levels of help and support they give the homeless,” she said.
The mission is supported only by donations and receives no help from the government because it is a religion-based organization.
Michele Smith, who does community relations and manages events for the mission, said the money donated by Pacheco (40 percent of her sales) was above and beyond what people usually pledge.
“It was more than we expected,” Smith said. “We feed 1,400 people every day and we take in 60 to 80 women to our emergency shelter every day so $3,000 can go a long way in feeding our families.”
When Pacheco was able to donate $1,600 this year, Smith said the mission is blessed.
“It will be used to continue to support a lot of people and to provide treatment, shelter, food and therapy to our homeless families,” she said.
Smith said that because of Pacheco’s heart for San Diego and the rescue mission her caring spirit has done something special and unique.
“She stepped up in a big way,” Smith said.
Pacheco, 53 and a Carlsbad resident, said she has been an artist ever since she could draw. She has attended some of the most prestigious plein air invitational events in the country, been invited to display her studio oil paintings at the Oil Painters of America’s Western Regional Exhibits and been accepted into the California Art Club’s Gold Medal Exhibit Art Painters Association, Southern California Plein Art Painters Association and the California Art Club.
As she grew up her skills grew, she studied at the prestigious Watts Atelier school of art in Encinitas.
She is an artist member of the California Art Club, a signature member of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association and many more prestigious organizations.
To learn more about Pacheo, visit www.ritapacheco.com or call her at (951) 965-2517.