The Country Friends announces 2018 chosen charities

Tim and Janean Stripe (she’s CF board member), Suzanne Newman (CF board first VP), Deborah and Les Cross (she’s CF president), Marci and John Cavanaugh (she’s CF human care funding director), Yvette Letourneau (CF board member)
(Vincent Andrunas)

The Country Friends, the 64-year-old nonprofit based in Rancho Santa Fe, revealed the charities selected for funding in 2018 at its first-ever “Giving Hearts” dinner and dance held on Friday, Feb. 2 at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. The Country Friends Board of Directors chose 52 agencies for grants this year, based on extensive site visits, interviews and questionnaires. Since its founding in 1954, The Country Friends has awarded nearly $14 million to San Diego County-based charities, with special emphasis on those that aid women, children, the elderly, the military, and the disabled.

“We wanted to create a special evening for our selected charities,” explained Deb Cross, president of The Country Friends, who co-chaired the gala with her husband, Les. “They are the heartbeat of our community, helping thousands of San Diegans last year alone.”

In keeping with the “Giving Hearts” theme, guests filled out paper hearts at each table with their names and donations. The event raised at least $60,000 for The Country Friends Legacy Campaign, chaired by Les Cross. The campaign kicked off three years ago with the goal of paying off the construction loan on the organization’s Consignment Shop on El Tordo in Rancho Santa Fe, and to establish an endowment to ensure funding for human care agencies in the decades to come.

The Country Friends rolled out the red carpet for this year’s honorees and guests, featuring a “meet and greet” with celebrity impersonator Eileen Finney, portraying the late comedian Joan Rivers. Adding to the festivities, waiters passed champagne and hors d’oeuvres as photographers snapped pictures. A three-course dinner followed, including Belgian endive and arugula salad, center cut filet and Gulf prawns.

Ranch & Coast editor and former TV anchor Andrea Naversen, a member of The Country Friends Board of Directors, served as emcee, announcing the charities selected for funding. The evening concluded with dessert and dancing on the Sunset Terrace.

The Country Friends raises money through memberships and fundraisers, including its signature event, The Art of Fashion. The runway show and luncheon is presented in partnership with South Coast Plaza each September at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The organization also supports charities through proceeds from its Consignment Shop, selling high-end furniture, china, crystal and objets d’art.

For more information about The Country Friends, visit or call 858-756-1192 ext. 4. The Country Friends®, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, was formed in 1954 with the mission: “Helping San Diegans, One Hand at a Time.” 6030 El Tordo, P.O. Box 142 Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 ? 501 (c) 3 Phone: 858-756-1192. Visit

The Country Friends’ 2018 funded agencies include:

Angels Foster Family Network, Alzheimer’s San Diego, ARC of San Diego, Border View Family YMCA, Boys To Men Mentoring, Brother Benno’s, Burn Institute, Casa de Amparo, Center for Community Solutions,Community Campership Council, Community Resource Center, Elizabeth Hospice, Friends of Vista Hill Foundation, Generate Hope,Girls Rising, Helen Woodward Animal Center, Include Autism, Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Just in Time for Foster Youth, Kids’ Turn, La Jolla Meals on Wheels,LightBridge Hospice, Mama’s Kitchen, MANA de San Diego, Miracle Babies, Mitchell Thorp Foundation, Olivewood Gardens & Learning Ctr, Palomar Family Counseling, Palomar Health Foundation,Partnerships with Industry,Project Concern Int’l - San Diego,Pro Kids The First Tee of S.D.,Promises2Kids, Reading Legacies, Reality Changers, REINS, Ronald McDonald House Charities San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe Community Center, San Diego Blood Bank, San Diego Brain Injury Foundation, San Diego Rescue Mission, Saving Horses, Serving Seniors, Special Delivery, STEP, Tender Loving Canines, Think Dignity, Vision of Children, Voices for Children, Walden Family Services, Warriors Live On and YWCA Becky’s House.