February 23, 2024
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Good Works: Homeless living in their vehicles get solar chargers


Nonprofit Unite to Light and the New Beginnings Counseling Center’s Safe Parking Program have teamed up to bring light, electricity and a degree of security to about 120 folks living in their cars in Santa Barbara County.

Unite to Light president Megan Birney and Safe Parking Program sponsor Mike Tognotti and daughter Sofia Tognotti put together the program for the nearly 1,000 homeless people in the county who live in their vehicles.

The Unite to Light devices provide solar power for small electronics. The original goal was 50 chargers but support from SG Gives funded another 72.

About 150 people are enrolled in the Safe Parking Program in Santa Barbara. Safe Parking provides safe overnight, monitored parking spaces, case management and rapid rehousing services for individuals and families living in their vehicles in Santa Barbara, Goleta and the unincorporated region in between.

Santa Barbara County has 1,800 people who are experiencing homelessness. The 2019 Point in Time Count found that approximately 42 percent of the unsheltered homeless population were living in their vehicles.

“We were honored to be selected by Unite to Light to help distribute additional solar chargers to our constituents. Based on the feedback over the past two years, we know that solar power enables people to connect to services like housing and jobs,” said Cassie Roach, senior case manager of the Safe Parking Program. “Our clients also save time and money, no longer needing to drive around to find a place to charge their phones.”


Cox Charities will award $10,500 in grants to Santa Barbara County nonprofit organizations to support initiatives that focus on youth, education, conservation and the military. Applications are currently being accepted online at www.coxcharitiesca.org and must be submitted by Aug. 31.

Cox Charities, the philanthropic arm of Cox Communications funded by employee donations that are matched by the company, will consider requests up to $2,500.

The 2018 grant recipients included the Unity Shoppe, Organic Soup Kitchen, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara and Hospice of Santa Barbara.

To apply for a Cox Charities nonprofit grant, organizations must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization; be located or provide services in a Cox service area in Santa Barbara County; show measurable results from the program and complete a post grant evaluation form; and provide information on program outreach components including a website and social media.

For more information, visit www.coxcharitiesca.org.


Bank of America awarded $145,000 in grants to 14 nonprofits in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to help advance economic mobility for individuals and families and put them on a path toward financial stability.

The bank said nonprofits receiving funding will help address key factors improving financial stability in the region by supporting women-owned businesses and other entrepreneurs to create small businesses; by providing basic needs such as access to food, shelter and health services; and ensuring access to educational and workforce development services that give young adults pathways to employment.

“Among the biggest drivers toward a stronger economy are encouraging our youth to seek higher education and stay here, as well as providing meaningful assistance to families to ensure a sustainable economic future,” said Midge Campbell-Thomas, Ventura-Santa Barbara market president for Bank of America. “Through strategic philanthropic investments into the area’s incredible nonprofit network, along with our own business lending, Bank of America is deploying its capital to advance more economic opportunities across Ventura and Santa Barbara communities.”

Organizations receiving grants include United Way of Santa Barbara County, California Lutheran University, Casa Pacifica Centers For Children And Families, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Foodshare, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College, United Way of Ventura County, Unity Shoppe, UC Santa Barbara, Ventura College Foundation, California State University Channel Islands Foundation and Women’s Economic Ventures.

• The Good Works column is a monthly roundup of nonprofit and philanthropy news in the Tri-Counties. Submit items to grabinowitz@pacbiztimes.com.