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Santa Barbara Foundation Hands Out $775,000 in Grants to Local Agencies

Sixteen nonprofits receive Community Economic Response Fund grants to help struggling families

The Santa Barbara Foundation teamed up with local philanthropists to bring $775,000 worth of aid to families and individuals struggling during the economic recession.

Community Economic Response Fund (CERF) grants of $10,000 to $125,000 were awarded Tuesday to 16 county agencies that provide food, shelter and medical care, and protect families against domestic violence.

Foundation president and CEO Ron Gallo spoke at the Santa Barbara County Foodbank, a recipient of a $125,000 Countywide Impact Grant, and emphasized the importance of community giving during tough economic times.

“We didn’t do this alone, we couldn’t do this alone and we didn’t want to do this alone,” he said. With partners, the foundation put up the first half-million dollars, and other donors, including private foundations, families and individuals, contributed $275,000.

The foundation and other contributors represent the “strategic power of community philanthropy,” he said. The economic downturn is hurting people, including many families who never sought help before, which became the focus of CERF, he said.

“These are your neighbors who have spent a lifetime of being self-sufficient, providing for themselves and contributing to the community, and now they find themselves needing this kind of help,” Gallo said.

The Foodbank’s executive director, Erik Talkin, reiterated Gallo’s focus on increased demand for assistance. The fact that the grant check was in the bank by the time of the presentation, versus being presented in cardboard form causing delays, spoke to the foundation’s dedication and understanding of the urgency of need, Talkin said.

Since the Santa Barbara Foodbank is part of Feeding America, it can turn its grant into a much larger value by working and buying food with other food banks, he said.

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Erik Talkin, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Foodbank, said his organization’s affiliation with Feeding America will turn its $125,000 grant into a much larger value by working and buying food with other food banks. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

The Foodbank directs its funding and food to its own programs of refrigerated-van movable markets and bag lunch programs as well as dozens of organizations such as church charity groups that directly cook and/or give out food to those who need it.

“We asked for $50,000 and they gave us $125,000,” Talkin said. “It’s just never, ever happened before, that the foundation has given us more money than we asked for, and it just shows their dedication, so that’s wonderful.”

The Casa Esperanza Homeless Center received a $75,000 Impact Grant, and board president Barbara Allen, board member Rob Pearson and development director Rob Grayson were appreciative of the much-needed help because of their $2.2 million budget.

The center has 200 beds in winter and 100 for nonwinter, and the two family rooms have been consistently full for the past few months, they said. The kind of people and length of time in the facility ranges widely, with some families needing a little time to get back on their feet and some chronically ill and homeless individuals needing a place to stay for a longer period of time.

Casa Esperanza has seen an increase in families needing help recently, in accordance with the community focus behind CERF, but Allen, Pearson and Grayson noted that chronic homeless people (who tend to be individuals) or those with medical issues tend to need assistance longer and more help with transitioning.

“Those from stable environments — that lost their jobs — can easily go back in (to society),” Grayson said.

The other 14 county organizations that received grant money were Catholic Charities, Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Marian Community Clinics, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Good Samaritan Shelter, the Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corporation, the Alliance for Pharmaceutical Access, Doctors Without Walls–Santa Barbara Street Medicine, Transition House, the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, the Pacific Pride Foundation, the New Beginnings Counseling Center, the Lompoc Housing Assistance Corporation and Casa Serena.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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