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Amid COVID-19, the RSF Women’s Fund adapts quickly and awards grants totaling 357K to local charities

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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.

(Courtesy)

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.”

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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.
(Courtesy)

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:

Michelle Smith from San Diego Rescue Mission: “WOW!!!! Absolutely amazing. This has made my day/week/month. Thank you so much for selecting this project and our organization. I know that we will make your team proud with the results and impact of this generous gift. I can’t wait to share the good news with the rest of the team, they’ll be so excited. Thank you again for allowing us to apply and complete the application process.”

Carol Waltz from ElderHelp: “We are so very honored to receive this award. Your committee was diligent in assessing worthy solutions for timeworn needs, and we are pleased to be able to move forward with our Senior Housing Services project. Please share with the grants committee a big thanks from ElderHelp. It was a pleasure to ‘watch’ your process, certainly more deliberate than most. And a brilliant outcome!”

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.


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