Local heroes rally to support servicemembers, bolster Rancho Santa Fe community this holiday season


By Janet Lawless Christ

The holidays are all about giving; and this year, our local

Rancho Santa Fe community

witnessed a wonderful example of holiday spirit in the form of a generous bid to support active duty servicemembers here in San Diego. Such selfless giving is the ultimate act of community and compassion; and this year, I hope we can all go into the holidays inspired to do our part.

Our story begins with Archi’s Acres, a small-scale organic farming organization that offers veterans an opportunity to transition into sustainable civilian life with the Veteran’s Sustainable Agricultural Training (VSAT) program. This year, three deserving active duty military students were slated to receive scholarships allowing them to complete their training through the VSAT program and earn certification. However, due to some financial red tape, the funding for these scholarships was delayed – a glitch that would have cost all three servicemembers their certification and graduation honors.

In an effort to help restore the necessary funding, I began reaching out to members of the community. But despite everyone’s best intentions, coming up with the money before the deadline seemed like a lost cause. Then, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon my local heroes.

A community blessed by generosity

I decided to take a risk and reach out to a gentleman I had only just met in the hopes of landing on a last-minute solution. With little more than a brief description of the predicament facing the VSAT students and a link to the Archi’s Acres website to go on, this man and his two business partners promptly agreed to fully underwrite the three scholarships, saying that they were “all in” and happy to support our valiant troops. Just like that, the clouds lifted: and thanks to these three donors – Joe Allis of Porsche of San Diego, George Athan of Audi San Diego and Jason Puga of Land Rover San Diego – all three Archi’s Acres VSAT students successfully graduated from their training program on November 2, 2012, and stand ready to make their way in the world as stewards not only of our national liberty and security, but also of our precious natural resources.

On behalf of the entire Rancho Santa Fe community, I want to extend congratulations to these three incredible VSAT graduates -- Catherine Llanas, Matt Figurski and Steve Brown – and to thank Joe, George and Jason for their spectacular support. If someone on your gift list has their eye on a new car, remember to pay these hometown heroes a visit at their dealerships on Miramar Road. And as we gather together with our loved ones this holiday season, let us remember to give generously, support those in need, and give thanks for our blessings as residents of a beautiful, compassionate and caring community. Learn how you can get involved in community support today: visit