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Street Smarts: Direct Relief again among nation’s top charities; B of A gave $1.4M in region in 2021

By   /   Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021  /   Comments Off on Street Smarts: Direct Relief again among nation’s top charities; B of A gave $1.4M in region in 2021

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Direct Relief ranked No. 5 among U.S. charities in 2021 by revenue, slipping two spots even as donations totaled $1.9 billion, according to data compiled by  Forbes.

United Way, Feeding America, the Salvation Army and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ranked higher than the Santa Barbara-based charity in the magazine’s annual list of 100 largest U.S. charity organizations. In a statement Direct Relief said it was “the only one to receive a score of 100% for both charitable commitment and fundraising efficiency.”

Direct Relief is one of the world’s leading distributors of humanitarian medical assistance to victims of disasters and communities that lack essential resources. Last year it launched a Fund for Health Equity to address health care equity issues in the U.S. It is supported by private donations and accepts no government funding.

BANK OF AMERICA’S REGIONAL PHILANTHROPY REPORT

Stepping up its role in corporate philanthropy, Bank of America said it has awarded just under $1.4 million to nonprofits across Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties in 2021. Grants were focused on workforce development and job re-skilling, basic needs such as hunger relief, healthcare and emergency shelter as well as affordable housing and diversity. The company also donated 370,500 units of PPE and employees volunteered nearly 30,000 hours.

One of the biggest donations was $250,000 to Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, or CAPSLO. The money helped fund San Luis Obispo County’s first addiction detox center.

Bank of American also gave $50,000 “Neighborhood Champions” grants to People’s Self-Help Housing, and to Women’s Economic Ventures. Other nonprofits receiving funding include the Regional Economic Action Coalition, or REACH; SLO Foodbank; Food Bank of Santa Barbara County; and the Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project.

REACHING FOR A NEW LEADER

The Regional Economic Action Coalition — REACH, a San Luis Obispo-based economic development group — has brought Josh Boswell on board as vice president of policy and economic development.

“Based in Santa Barbara, Boswell will focus on broadening and deepening REACH’s industry engagement throughout both counties,” REACH said in a statement. Boswell graduated from Georgetown University and holds foreign service credentials — perhaps something that will hold him in good stead as he navigates the region’s tricky politics. He will join Melissa James and Russ Levanway in senior leadership.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HOLIDAY STRESS

Thirty-eight percent of Americans say their stress actually gets worse during the holidays, with fatigue, anger and irritability among the warning signs for depression. Leading  causes are financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings. And, don’t forget the post-holiday let down. Assessing expectations is one of the most important things to do during the holidays, writes Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center in Santa Barbara.

FUNDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN VENTURA COUNTY

The Housing Trust Fund Ventura County is providing a $4 million pre-development construction loan to kick off the development of Rancho Sierra Senior Apartments near Camarillo. Rancho Sierra is being developed by Many Mansions with support from the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura to provide affordable housing solutions for low-income seniors.  

SBCC’S DEBT RELIEF

Approximately 1,800 Santa Barbara City College students have received a form of debt relief thanks to SBCC’s Fresh Start Initiative and the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. SBCC created the Fresh Start Initiative, allocating $1 million to go directly to students with outstanding balances.

COOKIES FROM THE HEART

Twenty-five members of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara baked, bagged and delivered 1,200 cookies to the non-profit Food From The Heart. The cookies will be added to their meals brought to those in our community who are dealing with major illnesses, surgeries, or failing health and cannot take care of themselves.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD GOES GREEN

Planned Parenthood California Central Coast celebrated its first solar electric system at its San Luis Obispo health center. The system is expected to net $250,000 in financial savings over the next 30 years. The project was part of the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize Nonprofit program and was made possible by support from Asteri Solar.

NEW CHAIR FOR VITAMIN ANGELS

Vitamin Angels has named Jim Hamilton as chair of its board of directors. Hamilton has a background in the natural products industry and he’s been on the board for 10 years, according to Howard Schiffer, Vitamin Angels’ founder and president. Hamilton succeeds Michelle Goolsby, who retired as chair after 9 years.

NEW CHAIR AT WEST COUNTY CHAMBER

The West Ventura County Business Alliance — the chamber of commerce for Oxnard and Camarillo — has named Dawn Simmons of Edward Jones as its chair.  She has over 30 years in the financial services industry. Taking over the chair-elect spot is Business Times pal and Port of Hueneme Chief Commercial and Public Affairs Officer Dona Lacayo.

 LEADERSHIP ACADEMY BOARD MOVES

Ventura County Leadership Academy has named Moorpark College President Julius Sokenu to its board, along with Jeremey Shumaker, regional director of operations for American Medical Response, and Crystal Stratton, the Community Engagement Program administrator for the Ventura County Fire Department.

FINAL SCENES

• COLLEGE FUNDS: Students at Allan Hancock College preparing for careers in the skilled trades will get scholarships and tools, thanks a $10,000 donation from the Los Olivos Rotary Club.  

• ANCHORED:  Petty Officer 3rd  Class Jessica Sharpe, a Camarillo native, is serving aboard USS Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Navy Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship.

• ONLINE BUCKS: Boys & Girls Club of the Mid-Central Coast raises $12,000 from its online Giving Tuesday campaign.

• AWARDS TIME: Submit your nominations for VCMRF’s 2022 Leo Tauber/David Fainer, MD Awards by Feb. 4. The nomination form can be found at www.vcmrf.org.

• JUST ZIA FACTS: Zia Group raised over $22,000 for The Unity Shoppe in November as part of a matching funds campaign.

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