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Casa Esperanza Receives $250,000 Challenge Grant

Local philanthropists will match donations to keep the homeless center's doors open

On Thursday, the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center launched a $250,000 matching challenge grant campaign designed to keep the doors open at the center and the Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara.

Through July 30, every gift received will be matched dollar for dollar up to $250,000.

Confronted with staggering numbers of homeless people in need and an ongoing economic recession that has reduced the amount of donations available to address the problem of homelessness throughout the region, Sarah Miller McCune, Leslie Ridley-Tree, The Gildea Foundation and the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara joined together to support Casa Esperanza in its effort to care for the homeless.

“Many people are not aware that over $1 million, 61 percent of Casa Esperanza’s income, must be raised from charitable foundations and personal donations,” said Michael Foley, executive director at Casa Esperanza. “Over the last 18 months, we have faced unprecedented numbers of homeless people in desperate need and a decrease in available funding. As face potential cuts in available beds and services for some of our most vulnerable neighbors, this challenge opportunity is yet another miracle in a string of miracles that helps homeless people survive every day and for many to emerge from homelessness to housing.”

David Peri, a Casa Esperanza board member who was instrumental in securing the gifts, said “When you look at the fact that over 1,700 people came to us for help and hundreds end up housed instead of homeless, hundreds were placed in jobs, what services can we afford to cut when hopelessness and even death could be the result? These amazingly generous donors and organizations responded to the call with gifts of love and compassion. Our hope is that many more will join them now and in the future.”

On Friday, June 4, more than 30,000 people throughout the region will receive fundraising letters signed by McCune, Ridley-Tree and Naomi Schwartz, from the Gildea Foundation. Donations will be used to support Casa Esperanza programs that include transitional living shelter beds, job development, counseling staff and more.

Funds donated to Casa Esperanza’s Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara also will be matched. The Community Kitchen is the only agency in Santa Barbara that collects food from grocery stores and restaurants and distributes that food to the hungry and homeless every day. In a 12-month period, the Community Kitchen will create nearly 175,000 meals for those in need.

— Michael Foley is executive director of the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center.

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