Above: RSF Garden Club annual meeting committee members and sponsors Cele Huntzinger, Annterese Toth, Adrienne Falzon, Jytte Leventhal and Jennifer Perkinson. Courtesy photo
RANCHO SANTA FE — A total of 13 organizations took part in the Rancho Santa Fe Grant Awards Celebration on May 29 at the Garden Club. A total of $100,000 was granted to entities, including local nonprofits, compared to the $50,881 funded in 2018.
According to the Thora Guthrie, executive director of The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, the 13 recipient organizations varied from elementary schools such as R. Roger Rowe School, Darnall Charter School and Mission Estancia to community gardens like Coastal Roots Farms.
“Coastal Roots Farms gives away hundreds of pounds of fresh farm produce to those in need every year,” she said. “We also awarded a grant to Balboa Park Conservancy to renovate the century-old Alcazar Gardens, and we are supporting the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, now known as Nature Collective for the third year in a row. Their work in North County restores open spaces and habitats and replaces invasive species with native species.”
Guthrie said grant recipients also included organizations that house and provide life skills to adults with special needs such as TERI and San Pasqual Academy.
San Pasqual Academy offer teens housing, education and life-changing skills.
This year, grant recipients came to the grant celebration with a visual presentation so Garden Club members and their guests could peruse the displays and learn more about the projects. For many members, it was an eye-opening experience seeing how their membership matters to those in need.
“Everyone came away impressed by the work being accomplished by the partnership and support,” Guthrie said.
Before the grant distribution, there was a member wine and cheese reception followed by an annual meeting. During the meeting, new board members were announced including Kelly Gomez, Jytte Leventhal, and Jennifer Perkinson. Food and wine for the grant awards celebration was sponsored by Annterese Toth and Jennifer Perkinson of Merrill Lynch.
Guthrie said the grant vetting process starts with a designated committee formed by the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club which first reviews the applications and then schedules site visits to learn more about the proposed projects.
“The applications are scored based on the clarity of presentation and appropriateness to our grant criteria of horticulture, sustainability, conservation, education, and level of need,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie said this was her first year as executive director experiencing the grant program and that it was one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.
“It feels so amazing to be able to support programs that literally change lives, programs that teach conservation, sustainability and nutrition to children, enrich the lives of people with disabilities and their families, and programs that enhance communities in general,” Guthrie said. “Seeing the work accomplished by organizations that have been given grants for multiple years for projects that we helped kick start is incredibly moving.”
Guthrie said grant giving is made possible thanks to membership fees, event income and proceeds from the resale shop contributing to the annual budget and enabling the Garden Club to give back in a big way.
“Without our members and their help on our committees, we would simply not exist,” she said. “That’s what our club is all about — working together, having fun, and making a positive impact.”