After the second year of Santa Cruz Gives, GT’s holiday giving drive, ended on New Year’s Eve, we took some time to look at what’s working with it. The answer turned out to be: pretty much everything.
Once again, we were blown away by Santa Cruz County’s generosity, as we raised more than $180,000 for local nonprofits, far surpassing our goal of $140,000, and doubling the $90,000 raised in the program’s first year. This year, we’ve raised the goal to $250,000, and since local donors keep wowing us every year, we’ve added an actual “wow goal” of $300,000 that has been scientifically determined to be the number which triggers our bug-eyed jaw-drops. The thing is, though, we’re just starting this week, and we’ve already been wowed—by the nonprofits participating in this year’s Santa Cruz Gives. They worked hard to be selected for this year’s program, and we urge you to check out each of their missions, and read about the projects they hope to fund through your donations to Santa Cruz Gives. Then go to santacruzgives.org and give to your favorites. It’s so easy, and it’s for not just one great cause, but many—as you’ll see when each nonprofit tells their story below.
Organization Mission: Our goal is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. With the support of mentors, children are more likely to stay in school, stay out of the juvenile justice system, and make healthy choices that lead to productive lives.
We envision a community where all children achieve success in life.
The Big Idea
Make a Match
Mentoring relationships can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Make a Match program, volunteers are carefully paired with children who face serious challenges of poverty, living in single-parent homes, or exposure to gangs, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed the lives of more than 6,500 local children in the past 35 years. We assess, create, supervise and provide ongoing support to mentoring matches. After thorough screening and training, volunteer mentors commit to spending 10-20 hours monthly with a child for at least one year.
Our goal is to match 45 children with caring volunteer mentors this year. Help bring hope and joy to these children—Make a Match!
Organization Mission: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Boys & Girls Club is the only youth service organization in the area providing after-school, drop-in programs daily, with educational, vocational, recreational, social and character development for ages 6 to 18.
The Big Idea
Young gardeners in this Positive Sprouts Garden program gain skills early on that form a foundation for a life of healthy eating. Through hands-on activities that encourage scientific exploration and nutritious choices, youth and their caregivers learn how to plan, build, plant, and maintain a garden.
Positive Sprouts aims to combat childhood and adolescent obesity by empowering youth and their families to grow a simple home garden and turn their produce into a healthy meal using an easy-to-follow recipe book.
Gardens in both the Downtown and Live Oak Clubhouse locations are also areas for conversation and meditation that foster respect for neutral, quiet spaces for reflection.
Organization Mission: We support education projects with a focus on persons with special needs and their families. We build facilities, provide materials, raise awareness, educate, and develop sustainable programs.
The Big Idea
“Big Jam” Music Experience
“Big Jam” is a monthly percussion circle open to teens and adults with developmental disabilities or brain injury, and their family and friends. Making music together is a transformative experience, allowing participants to experience unity, synchronization and joy.
The benefits go far beyond the joy of music, including vocalization in non-vocal children, improved memory, improved focus, and more.
After six successful years focusing on children in the MusicalMe, Inc. program, Building for Generations seeks to provide a monthly experience for teens and adults. Pilots of the program at picnics such as the Gathering of Extraordinary People have generated a lot of enthusiasm for the project. It works!
Organization Mission: CASA is a child’s voice in dependency court, providing advocacy, stability, and hope to children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
This support had a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of children and youth in foster care. They receive many health, emotional, and educational resources they might not otherwise receive.
“CASA children” have a higher rate of adoption than those without an Advocate, are less likely to return to the system, and are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care. Eighty-three percent of our youth graduated from high school, compared to the state average of 45 percent.
The Big Idea
Children in Foster Care Need Special Advocates
The trauma of being removed from their homes and placed in foster care has a profound effect on children and youth. More than 400 children and youth are in the foster care system in Santa Cruz County, and those most in need are referred to CASA. In 2018, CASA anticipates serving more than 285, ages birth to 21 years.
CASA receives referrals daily for children and youth who need an Advocate, and we have a wait list for those who need bilingual Advocates. Though the majority of children are 6-12 years old, the youngest (ages birth to 3 years) have immediate, unique needs. They need an Advocate who will go into their homes and strengthen the bond between the child and their caregiver.
Advocates commit to working with each child for a year and a half, and are trained to support birth parents since most children are still in their homes while under supervision of the dependency court. Older youth receive support to be successful as they move toward independent living. Many of our Advocates of older youth spend years with them, and are connected to them even after they turn 21.
Organization Mission: The mission of the Coastal Watershed Council is to preserve and protect coastal watersheds through community stewardship, education and monitoring.
The Big Idea
San Lorenzo River Revitalization
The San Lorenzo River is the main drinking water source for 100,000 people. It provides habitat for endangered species, fish, birds and wildlife. The river and park that lines its banks, the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, is crucial to public health and could be a natural respite, popular greenway and gathering space in the heart of Santa Cruz’s urban downtown—yet it feels more like a back alley than the city’s central park.
When Santa Cruz residents avoid the San Lorenzo River, our community becomes disconnected from it, which keeps us from understanding the benefits that the river provides, the ways in which we rely on it, and how we impact local waterways through our daily actions.
Rivers can transform our well-being. In other communities rivers are alternative transportation corridors, drivers of economic activity, destinations for tourism, and natural spaces people feel proud of and safe near. By rebuilding personal connections to our river, CWC is shifting the way we interact with this critical natural resource. The result is both a healthier watershed and a healthier, more vibrant community as we feel safe outdoors and enjoy a park—a space of connection—in the heart of Santa Cruz.
Organization Mission: CAB partners with the community to eliminate poverty and create social change. Annually, CAB assists 8,500 low-income people with emergency, sustaining and self-sufficiency services, and 7,000 more with requests for information and referrals.
We rely on hundreds of volunteers to help with six programs—three of which are aimed at employment support, as providing tools for self-sufficiency is a key strategy for reducing poverty.
The Big Idea
Rental Assistance Program
This program prevents homelessness by providing short-term rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County who are faced with eviction due to temporary setbacks such as family illness or job loss. These must be low-income families with minor children, elderly, or disabled members.
More than 75 percent of CAB clients have family incomes of less than 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
In 2016-2017, CAB’s Rental Assistance Program helped more than 100 families. Our goal through Santa Cruz Gives is to be able to assist at least 10 additional families in 2017-2018.
Organization Mission: Community Bridges has been strengthening our diverse community through innovative human services since 1977. Our 10 vital programs at 20 different sites met the needs of 22,000 children, families and seniors last year.
Community Bridges is a catalyst for sparking brighter futures by providing access to resources, knowledge and services to the people of Santa Cruz County. Our programs empower seniors to live with independence and dignity, increase medical care and nutrition, and provide children better access to education and family support.
The Big Idea
Meals on Wheels for All Holidays
Meals on Wheels served more than 140,000 meals last year. Facing funding cuts, Meals on Wheels programs nationwide have been forced to add seniors to waiting lists for holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the past 41 years Community Bridges’ Meals on Wheels hasn’t missed a single meal delivery on those two holidays. To maintain this service, however, deliveries may have to be reduced during the seven other national holidays for seniors living alone.
Funds raised through Santa Cruz Gives will go toward delivering meals to community members in need every day—including all nine national holidays.
Organization Mission: To create lasting oral health for underserved children and adults.
The Big Idea
Give Kids a Smile Day
Our 14th Annual Give Kids a Smile Day will provide free dental care and oral health education to 30-40 uninsured children of Santa Cruz County. Our goal is to make prevention more common than treatment, so that kids can focus on school instead of a toothache.
This day of free care serves kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks—families who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal, and can’t afford expensive or even discounted dental care at local clinics. Dientes aims to instill healthy habits and positive experiences with the dentist so that kids can continue their good oral health throughout life.
Organization Mission: Downtown Streets Team is ending homelessness by restoring dignity and rebuilding lives of men and women. Serving the community through work teams prepares members for permanent employment and housing.
The Big Idea
Downtown Streets Team: Santa Cruz
Downtown Streets Team engages homeless men and women to be a part of the solution to homelessness. Simply by participating in constructive and meaningful volunteer work in the community, our Team Members open the door to productive dialogue about homelessness with stakeholders such as business owners, elected officials, city staff, public safety officers, residents and visitors. We hope to create positive change in the way that homelessness is addressed in Santa Cruz by changing the way we think and talk about it.
Team Members receive case management, employment counseling, and a basic needs stipend in exchange for volunteering up to 20 hours per week beautifying downtown, the San Lorenzo River Riverwalk, and Main and Cowell beaches. These stipends ensure Team Members can obtain their basic needs without resorting to panhandling.
Organization Mission: Our energized name speaks to our mission as a youth empowerment and food justice organization. FoodWhat partners with low-income and struggling youth across Santa Cruz County to grow, cook, eat, and distribute healthy, sustainably raised food, and address local food justice issues. FoodWhat creates a safe space where youth experience profound personal growth and transformation, radical diet change, critical job training, and step into relevant activism.
The Big Idea
In 2018, FoodWhat youth (countywide low-income teens) will step into leadership positions, restoring or growing 14 school and community gardens by doing BLASTS! These projects result in acquisition of key job skills while participants earn a meaningful salary, pride in supporting children and elders, and the renovation or expansion of gardens to fully functional and vibrant spaces for food production, or learning for the coming school year.
FoodWhat youth will respond to a flood of requests by countywide elementary schools with gardens and South County community gardens to do these BLASTS, descending on different sites each week to bust out major projects: weeding, rebuilding beds, setting irrigation systems, renovating old greenhouses, breaking new ground, etc.
Community gardens are often tended to by elders looking for extra support, and school gardens hit their seasonal peak during summer break without students or staff present, so students often return to a discouraging, unusable space. FoodWhat youth will come in to aid the elders and transform these weedy school gardens into incredibly inspiring garden spaces and educational sites for the upcoming year. FoodWhat youth may have attended or have younger siblings in these schools, making their efforts even richer, while providing needed, highly impactful community service.
Organization Mission: Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries support the city-county system through more than 8,000 annual volunteer hours, fundraising and advocacy. We provide books and programs to each branch.
Donations last year through Santa Cruz Gives funded the Veterans Resource Center at the downtown Santa Cruz branch; purchased books on all topics; and expanded the Robo Sumo program where teens learned to build, program and test wrestling robots while developing coding skills.
Our goal is to create stronger neighborhoods and a culturally-enriched county through accessible and diverse programs.
The Big Idea
Santa Cruz Public Libraries—More Than Just Books!
For our 150th year, we celebrate not only how the libraries started simply as a source of free books for knowledge, but also that libraries now offer so many more avenues to lifelong learning.
Your donation will add to our programming fund for the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Each program costs $250 to $1,500, depending on its scope. We want to add 10 incredible programs a month to libraries (120 programs a year).
Examples of programs include:
$30 buys a CodeCombat license for a teen to learn coding for one year and get equivalent coding skills to a first year Stanford engineering student.
$50 brings an author talk to a branch.
$100 funds a citizen science presentation. Local scientists speak to the public about their current research.
$250 brings a magician to perform at a branch during the summer reading program.
$500 funds a year of collections (books and online resources) devoted to our special needs population.
$1,000 will fund a full workshop of RoboSumo Wrestling for 20 students or a year of Spanish Storytime at Live Oak Branch.
It is the generosity of the Santa Cruz community that allows the libraries to offer an incredible collection of books, materials and programming. Thank you!
Organization Mission: To inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold, and to respect themselves and the world around them.
The Big Idea
High School Girls Mentoring Program
The ECHO Leadership Program (Education, Careers, Health, and Opportunities) supports high school girls to make healthy lifestyle choices, overcome socioeconomic barriers, and pursue college education and satisfying careers. This highly researched model program has helped thousands of girls in other communities for years. The ECHO program will work with a group of up to 30 high school girls in Santa Cruz County over a nine-month period, meeting twice monthly, plus field trips. Volunteer women from the community and peer graduates of the program serve as mentors and female role models on various topics and careers.
Interactive sessions include: Health and Nutrition, Personal Safety, How Families and Culture Shape Our Attitudes, Personal Budgeting, Planning for College, Career Exploration, Public Speaking, and Influencing Public Policy. Field trips take the girls to at least three college campuses and the State Capitol for a tour and visits to their legislators.
Girls Inc. has started programs at several schools in Watsonville, and is raising funds to establish them in schools countywide.
Organization Mission: Grey Bears improves the health and well-being of seniors through food distribution, volunteerism and community participation. Our vision is that all seniors live healthy, meaningful lives.
The Big Idea
Healthy Food, Happy Hearts
We know that eating more vegetables and fruits, and staying physically and socially active, keeps us happy and healthy as we age. In the coming year Grey Bears will increase its commitment to ensuring that all seniors live healthy, meaningful lives. It starts with a balanced “nutrition brown bag” full of fresh produce delivered to 4,000 predominantly low-income seniors each week in Santa Cruz County—including 925 who are homebound.
Our daily food distributions support hundreds more, and our goal is to serve 20,000 hot, healthy meals from our kitchen. More volunteer opportunities and activities are in motion, including senior support groups, chair yoga classes, fix-it clinics and luncheon events to socially connect seniors, nurture vital friendships, healthy bodies and happy hearts.
Organization Mission: Heading Home Animal Rescue’s mission is to help animals in need at local open-admission shelters receive the care and time they need to find appropriate homes. We are the only rescue group that focuses exclusively on our local open-admission shelter, and provide 60 percent of the rescue assistance for needy animals that the entire Santa Cruz County Animal Sheltering system receives.
The Big Idea
Helping Animals in Need Find Their People
We continuously work to lower the rate of euthanasia by providing assistance to animals that our county shelter is not able to serve. This includes puppies that are too young to stay at the shelter, shy/unsocial cats that we place in new, loving barn cat homes, kittens who need medical care, and many animals that need a different environment in order to flourish.
Last year, we helped more than 700 local animals receive medically necessary vet care, behavioral help, and foster care in order to facilitate their adoption. We have already surpassed that number in the first 11 months of this year, and hope to help well over 800 local animals this year. Will you help us reach that goal?
Organization Mission: The Homeless Garden Project is an organic urban farm that provides job training, transitional employment, and support services to people who are homeless. With an emphasis on creating a thriving and inclusive community, as well as growing the local food system, the project provides people with the tools they need to build a home in the world.
The Homeless Garden Project also supports the broader Santa Cruz community with a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), and an education and volunteer program that blends formal, experiential and service-learning.
The Big Idea
From Homeless to a Job and a Home: Transition Support
Santa Cruz County has the fourth largest homeless population by county in the U.S. In order to support graduate retention of jobs and address transition challenges (into job and housing), our request to Santa Cruz Gives is to create a part-time staff position of a Social Work Supervisor. This is needed to increase the impact of our work and provide support for individuals experiencing homelessness during the program and after they graduate. This position would conduct assessments of incoming trainees, supervise our social work intern program, and create plans with trainees to address stability and employment readiness.
Our innovative program is rooted on tending to the land to produce healthy nutritious food without negatively impacting the environment.
Organization Mission: Homeless Services Center partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of homelessness into permanent housing. We hold firmly to a vision that homelessness in Santa Cruz County should be rare, brief and non-recurring.
The Big Idea
Smart Path to Housing and Health
The need to address homelessness in our community is indisputably urgent, and our coordinated assessment and referral system is changing the way people experiencing homelessness find the help they need in an equitable and compassionate manner.
Instead of knocking on every service provider’s door, people can go to one service provider and in one step be connected to all of the programs available in the county. Smart Path will connect people to resources more quickly, use our community’s resources more effectively, and prioritize assistance based on those who need it most.
One of the primary recommendations of our countywide plan to address homelessness, Smart Path streamlines the intake, referral, and program placement process, making it easier to move out of homelessness and into housing.
Organization Mission: Our goal is to improve the quality of life for children with cancer and their families. Since 1998, we have been at the side of more than 600 local children with cancer and more than 3,000 family members as they have navigated the journey from diagnosis, through an uncertain future, and beyond.
The no-cost services are funded entirely through community donations. Jacob’s Heart receives no government support or reimbursement for services to advance our vision to create a community where every child with a serious or life-threatening condition has a supported and informed family empowered to fully participate in their care.
The Big Idea
Camp Heart + Hands
Camp Heart + Hands provides a life-changing camp experience for children with cancer and their families in Santa Cruz County. The camp experience allows families to create empowering bonds with other families enduring pediatric cancer and forget about their disease for a weekend.
Our camp is staffed by pediatric ICU nurses and oncologists from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Highlights of the weekend include campfires, support groups, movie night, climbing wall, skateboard park, family carnival, music, dancing, healthy food, art, swimming, games, magic, pony rides and more. Camp Heart + Hands is for families whose never-ending strength is an inspiration to everyone.
Organization Mission: The Live Like Coco Foundation helps kids grow up healthy and with opportunities to pursue their dreams. Our foundation is named and inspired by Coco Lazenby, a self-described “book lover, cat petter and environmentalist,” who was killed in a car accident in 2015 at age 12.
To honor Coco’s bright spirit and big heart, our foundation works in four areas that made a difference in her life: literacy, nature, health, and funding for extracurricular activities such as theater, horseback riding, art, and computer programming.
The Big Idea
Birthday Books From Coco
Our unique Birthday Books From Coco program offers students at participating schools the opportunity to choose a new book on their own birthdays. In the 2017-2018 school year, our Birthday Books From Coco program will reach nearly 5,000 public school students at 10 different sites from Santa Cruz to Watsonville. More than 76 percent of the K-5 students we serve qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Birthday Books From Coco was honored in 2016 by a Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury report as one of six county, city and private groups making a difference. It was noted that, “For many of these children it is the first book they have owned.”
Organization Mission: We believe an informed public will ensure the preservation of the natural habitats and cultural history of our California State Parks. Interpretive and educational programs funded by Mountain Parks Foundation serve more than 1.7 million park visitors annually, including more than 200 student classes who participate in on-site, curriculum-based educational programs at Henry Cowell and Big Basin Redwoods State Parks.
The Big Idea
Big Basin Nature Museum and Research Center
The best way to encourage the next generation to protect the natural bounty of Big Basin is to invite them to interact with it. That’s why we’re raising the funds needed to remake Big Basin’s nature museum into an immersive experience that turns spectators into active participants in conservation.
The new Nature Museum and Research Center will introduce visitors to the many endangered species in the park, allowing them to view this special place from the perspective of its inhabitants. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research being conducted in the park and contribute their own observations as “citizen scientists.” New technology will allow those who wish to connect with online resources a place to enhance their experience and deepen their knowledge. This multifaceted educational experience will have something new to offer visitors of all ages, helping to make each visit to Big Basin even more memorable.
Organization Mission: Our mission is to assist homeless women, children, and families in obtaining stable housing through temporary shelter and services. We also provide intensive bilingual case management services proven to empower families to build self-sufficiency skills and overcome personal obstacles that led to homelessness. Our comprehensive and individualized plan to end homelessness in our communities defines us as a fundamental site of community empowerment.
The Big Idea
Empowerment Financial Education for Homeless Families with Children
Funds from Santa Cruz Gives will support our financial consultation and workshops, which enable client families to save up to 90 percent of their income. Financial training and savings assist adults to transition to successful employment, independent housing, and a self-sufficient lifestyle with their children. One-on-one financial consciousness training and reconciliation meetings are conducted monthly with each family. Monthly, without exception, 100 percent of PVSS families submit all sources of income and all receipts for their expenses.
PVSS recognizes that the solution to homelessness lies beyond shelter—in identification of barriers and all-encompassing intervention. To break the cycle of homelessness, each year 80 families in PVSS programs develop self-sufficiency skills through intensive case management services and more than 40 workshops in areas such as emotional stability, domestic violence, banking and budgeting, family and cultural rituals, house maintenance, and nutrition.
Organization Mission: To contribute to the end of extreme poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people, women, to join the global economy through our home party network. We recruit women from homeless shelters, Welfare-to-work programs, domestic violence, human trafficking survivor networks, and extended foster care programs to become social
entrepreneurs and run their own Rising International direct-sales businesses.
The Big Idea
Rising America—Entrepreneur Program for Homeless Women
We train homeless and economically vulnerable women in Santa Cruz County to run their own direct-sales businesses, selling fair trade items made by impoverished women all over the world, helping both groups to rise. In the coming year, we hope to make it easier for Santa Cruz residents to support our emerging entrepreneurs by creating a new e-commerce system and modern mobile online stores ready for customers to browse and purchase fair-trade items from local Rising Representatives.
Organization Mission: We are working to ensure that all children from birth through adulthood are healthy and able to reach their full potential. We currently serve 11,000 low-income patients—more than 800 of whom are homeless, including nearly 200 homeless children.
The Big Idea
Live Oak Cradle to Career (C2C)
We are investing in a significantly higher level of prevention and care—with best-practices in early identification and treatment to reduce developmental delays, toxic stress, abuse, neglect, and other trauma—dramatically increasing a child’s health, well-being and educational success from Cradle to Career.
Cradle to Career has two components: “Cradle to Crayon,” led by Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, focuses on the critical developmental stages of prenatal to age three; and “Crayon to Career,” led by the Live Oak School District, focuses on Pre-K to college. In both instances, the Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, along with C2C partners, work to improve coordination between medical and school settings, so kids get services and care when and where they need it with schools, health care, and families working together.
Cradle to Career also showcases the role that parent leaders provide to make our level of care possible as a model of community health.
C2C is inspired by this notion: “You cannot educate a child who is not healthy and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated.” – Jocelyn Elders, former Attorney General
Organization Mission: Our mission is to end hunger and malnutrition by educating and involving the community. Our vision is for no one in Santa Cruz County to have life opportunities limited by hunger or malnutrition.
Through a network of more than 200 community partners—food pantries, soup kitchens, senior and community centers, shelters, nutrition workshop sites, schools and emergency food locations, Second Harvest annually delivers 8.3 million pounds of healthy food to children, seniors, working families and individuals in need, from Davenport to Pajaro Valley.
Of the foods we distribute each year, 64 percent is fresh, seasonal, and regionally grown produce. Volunteers donate more than 42,000 hours each year and more than 5,000 individuals are directed to the nearest food distribution site.
The Big Idea
A Strong Community Healthy Foods Network for All
With your support, we will strengthen our buying power and community food network, bringing fresh produce and healthy staples to partners representing people struggling with hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, mental health, and education in Santa Cruz County.
Second Harvest’s strength is the capacity to receive and distribute food on a large scale as we work closely with local farmers, food distributors, and retailers to source staples, fresh fruit and vegetables. Together we are alleviating each agency’s need to find funding or source food through more time-consuming, expensive methods.
Organization Mission: Senderos is an all-volunteer organization founded in 2001, with free dance and music programs that serve 120 youth. We provide safe, supportive after-school activities promoting cultural pride, strengthening family unity, and encouraging pathways to college and career. Sharing Latino culture through performing arts and educational opportunities strengthens individuals and our larger community.
The Big Idea
Cultural Arts for Youth
It is more important than ever to support Latino youth and their families. In order to bridge cultural divides for immigrant youth by providing positive, safe, family-centered activities, including a strong push for academic success leading to higher education, Senderos will provide free after-school dance and music instruction for Latino youth who otherwise might not afford these opportunities.
Linking young people to their heritage enhances self-esteem and promotes family unity. Youth showcase their talents and share their cultural pride at more than 20 community and school performances annually. Most of the youth participating are low-income. We need to provide traditional dance outfits on loan for performances and build an instrument lending library for our young musicians to practice and perform.
Senderos brings art, culture, and community together to break down borders, and increase understanding and acceptance of diversity throughout Santa Cruz County.
Organization Mission: Founded on the belief that recreation, challenge, fun and access to the outdoors are essential parts of a fulfilling life, Shared Adventures is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities.
Our opportunities for social and recreational interaction for disabled people encourage self-confidence, cooperation, decision-making, leadership skills, outdoor skills, and environmental awareness.
The Big Idea
Camping & Outdoor Adventures for Children and Adults with Disabilities
Our goal is to increase the number of trips to the beautiful state parks and beaches of Santa Cruz County for camping and outdoor recreation for people with disabilities. These opportunities help people with disabilities receive the tremendous positive benefits that outdoor recreation can have on their mental and physical health, and overall well-being.
These trips will be made accessible with the help of experienced guides, recreational therapists, volunteer support, and adaptive equipment such as all-terrain wheelchairs to ensure as many as possible can be included.
Organization Mission: Survivors Healing Center offers a safe and confidential place to heal and empower survivors of child sexual abuse. We identify emerging needs in our community and work on preventing abuse through our Caring for Kids outreach program.
All of our safety net services are based on a sliding fee scale and offered to low income residents at low or no cost, enabling clients to move from crisis and survival mode to practical solutions and stability. We assist people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own creative solutions.
The Big Idea
Caring for Kids: End Child Sexual Abuse
There is no greater violation of trust and innocence than child sexual abuse. We have been one of a few organizations nationwide dedicated to ending child sexual abuse through broad social education, and now the model is spreading. Our Caring for Kids: End Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program builds communities that not only acknowledge the issue, but also spark an honest dialogue about how to collaboratively prevent child sexual abuse. Survivors learn that help is available through our support services. Hopelessness and helplessness can be transformed by knowledge, courage and compassion.
Organization Mission: Tandy Beal and Company develops and produces creative projects that enrich the cultural, educational and artistic life of the community. We support established artists, develop emerging artists, and unite the community through the wonder of dance, theater, music, and circus presented in concerts, workshops, arts education, and innovative outreach.
The Big Idea
ArtSmart: Inspiring Music and Dance Concerts + Residencies
What if empathy were cultivated in our schools through world dance, music and circus? What if we could eliminate boredom and offer reasons to explore a life that has wonder—a wonder more fascinating than TV or buying stuff? How do we inspire kids to be curious about the world beyond themselves? How many ways are there to be right? How do we integrate mind, body and spirit—and do it with joy?
ArtSmart is an arts education program for youth, families, teachers and artists, with concerts by award-winning multicultural artists (both public and in schools); eight-12-week dance residencies in schools; and professional development for artists and teachers.
Children when given the opportunity to use art to problem-solve through creative collaboration often find their own voices, listen to others respectfully and engage in learning.
Organization Mission: UnChained fosters empathy, respect and responsibility in youth through the human-animal bond.
The Big Idea
Canines Teaching Compassion
UnChained pairs dogs in need of training and adoption with youth in need of self-esteem and empathy, unleashing human potential one dog at a time. By expanding its Canines Teaching Compassion program in Santa Cruz County, UnChained will teach more underserved youth to train homeless dogs in basic skills and good manners, helping place the dogs into adoptive homes.
The youth develop values of patience, respect and responsibility for themselves and others, through the trust and relationship-building with their dogs. Working with dogs who may share similar experiences of neglect, abandonment, and abuse enables youth to experience compassion and respect for others, while building confidence and self- worth. As the dogs succeed, youth thrive knowing they have helped find a home for a dog who loves and accepts them unconditionally.
Organization Mission: From its very beginning, in the aftermath of the devastating winter storms of 1982, Valley Churches United has been a source of help during a disaster, a temporary crisis or simply a hard time for residents throughout San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley and Bonny Doon in their time of need.
As we do not receive government funding, our four staff members rely on the incredible support of donors, daily volunteers, and a board of directors to implement a year-round food pantry as well as crisis rent, mortgage, utility and disaster assistance, holiday food drives, and more, to qualified clients in need.
The Big Idea
Expanding Fresh and Nutritious Food Choices
Valley Churches United recognizes the growing need of our clients to access our food pantry year round to supplement their monthly shortfalls of food and other living expenses. Our goal is to provide more healthy food choices, which adds costs for increased quantities of food as well as quality in fresh, perishable foods. We see many clients who cannot afford healthy food options and we aim to be their safety net for these choices which will improve overall health and reduce future health care costs.
There are few nonprofits that assist the Santa Cruz Mountain communities, and there is a strong need for support services to our neighbors who live there.
Organization Mission: We are transforming lives by providing seniors with the necessary support to safely age in place. We do this by connecting seniors with opportunities for greater independence and engagement in our community.
The Big Idea
Lend a Helping Hand
This year, Helping Hands volunteers helped more than 200 low-income seniors, disabled older adults, and veterans to age safely in our community and maintain independence. We provide home safety checks and basic modifications that prevent falls in and around the home and allow for seniors to engage in the activities they enjoy.
Fall-related accidents are the top cause of injury or death for seniors in the U.S. With the right support and reduced risk factors, many falls can be prevented. Please help us serve more seniors in 2018, and prevent falls experienced by hundreds of older adults in Santa Cruz County each year.
Organization Mission: Our mission is to support the population of people who sleep outside by offering a safe, clean and dignifying space indoors on the coldest and wettest nights, thereby reducing hypothermia and death.
We focus directly on the needs of people who sleep outside, such as a program to receive and disperse blankets, jackets and warm clothing, and we’ll operate a personal belongings storage program in December.
The Big Idea
Physical Mobility and Personal Care Challenges Program
There are people with physical mobility challenges who have difficulty accessing shelters when they need it most. They are often the most medically vulnerable, and can be found sleeping outside and in doorways despite existing shelter beds. Some rarely access showers or laundry services and can smell so badly that they alienate others while in a shelter. Some have been barred from shelters in the past, leaving them to sleep outside when it freezes.
The Warming Center Program has made people with physical mobility and personal care challenges a priority. The shuttle roves the community, bringing in anyone who didn’t make it on an earlier round. We are developing a personal care program so that everyone may feel clean and fresh as they lay down to sleep.
As we are mostly all-volunteer and community funded, we need your help to establish and maintain this important work. Last winter, we utilized more than one hundred volunteers from all walks of life who came together to staff the shelter.
Organization Mission: To preserve, restore and foster appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley and to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders.
The Big Idea
Emerging Environmental Leaders in Watsonville
We envision the Watsonville wetlands as a thriving ecosystem and a community that is at the center of its conservation. We will strive to reach at least 2,500 students in 2018 through innovative education programs in the Watsonville wetlands that work to ensure that Watsonville youth grow into the next generation of environmental leaders, equipped to take on the complex environmental challenges our community and planet face.
We provide outdoor programs during and after school that instill an interest in nature while supporting academic achievement. Each year 12 high school students graduate from our Wetland Stewards Program, a year-long mentorship-based program where they are the after-school teachers for more than 400 middle and elementary school students. Twelve students also graduate from the Green Careers Summer Institute, a vocational program in emerging and traditional environmental careers. Our citizen science programs allow youth to conduct meaningful water quality and bird population surveys in the sloughs. And our Wonders of Wetlands program provides a year-round experience for fourth and fifth grade students to help restore wetlands on public open space.
Organization Mission: Wings Homeless Advocacy is committed to living out values of compassion, dignity and respect for all people by uniting our community to be volunteer advocates for those moving out of homelessness and onto a path of healing—we will work together to end chronic homelessness in Santa Cruz County.
The Big Idea
Beds and Baskets
Can you imagine finally finding housing after experiencing homelessness, but moving in with nothing and having to sleep on the floor? Working with more than 50 case managers at several different agencies, Wings volunteers help our homeless friends complete tasks and obtain resources needed to become housed and self-sufficient.
In addition to hundreds of volunteer hours we provide by giving rides to medical and court appointments, helping people move in to housing, and filling out the confusing paperwork needed to get housing assistance. We also donate beds ($100 value) and Welcome Home baskets ($50 value) full of personal care and household supplies. Last year we gave away 36 beds and 58 baskets and we would like to double that!
Wings supports the national Housing First model proven to save lives and public resources. Rather than looking the other way, our volunteers consider it a blessing to be able to care for those who are marginalized and find that encouragement can make the difference in helping a chronically homeless person make a 180-degree change in their life.