Giving Back–in a New Way 1

In our home, we are very appreciative of the goodness we have and also how hard we have worked over the years. But, above it all, we are extremely grateful. We make an effort to give back and given that this issue focuses on philanthropic endeavors, it seems appropriate to share with all of you my recent epiphany.

When I think about charities and giving back, in a simplistic way, it boils down to three things: time, money and/or tangible items. We give of our time to help others, whether it is driving people to an appointment, bringing someone a delicious home-cooked dinner post-surgery, donating to a local chef charity, and so forth. We also donate clothing in excellent condition to Working Wardrobes for those who are preparing to re-enter the work force, especially its VetNet program designed to help veterans going through significant life changes. We also give cash to our church and a few charities that focus on local efforts that we embrace. We use the website CharityNavigator.org to review each charity. It is important to us that the majority of the donations go to the charity and not toward highly-inflated administrative salaries.

We were recently revising our living trust, and that is when the ahh-haa moment came to me. Many families bequeath funds to all types of entities they are passionate about. Looking beyond the super obvious like Goodwill, Salvation Army, alma maters and a favorite museum or community center, we zeroed in on some of the places we tend to frequent and certainly care about in terms of their continued existence.

Being passionate about gardens and following a slew of spring garden tours each year, Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar is a close-to-home favorite. This enclave is a treasure for our community and offers a research center, beautiful gardens in which to wander, a koi pond, exotic plants and wonderful educational programs as well. They also have a lovely restaurant managed by my friend and Executive Chef Pascal Olhats. It is a best-kept secret for a girlfriend lunch or a special event. We are members of Sherman, and yes, this spot needs to be preserved.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach is home to the care and nurturing of sea life that are physically weak and sick. They are brought there to be nursed back to health. Where else would we take them?

The Bowers Museum is another favorite that secures some of the best exhibits in North America. The Terra Cotta Warriors, The Forbidden City, the impressive list goes on and on. This hacienda-style museum is impressive, and we are members and attend events often throughout the year. We want to continue supporting them.

The Discovery Cube OC in Santa Ana and ExplorOcean on Balboa Peninsula are related science-based museums for children and young adults. As we know, there is no better way to learn than by doing. Here they touch, feel and experience with incredibly creative interactive exhibits. Nurturing a passion for science and inquisitiveness of how things actually work is the cornerstone to learning about science. The programs encourage children at a young age to not be afraid of science and math disciplines. They are the tools to getting there! These two nonprofits feature exhibits that are ever-changing–right here in Orange County. They benefit our children and grandchildren–our future leaders.

Here are four nonprofits that I have identified, and I am sure each person reading this can think of others that pull at their heartstrings. It’s good to once in a while ponder and decide what we can do to help, not only now but for future generations as well.