Philanthropy is Alive and Well in Orange County!

October is our Philanthropy Issue, and we never have a shortage of nonprofits and people to feature.

Jill Johnson-Tucker and Jennifer Van Bergh had an epiphany moment 25 years ago and because of their tenacity, a 50-member group called the Harvesters was born to support Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB). The group is committed to end hunger in Orange County and have raised $6.5 million in that period of time to do so. SHFB’s CEO Nicole Suydam says of the Harvesters: “We have never worked with a group that is more organized, dedicated and productive in their devotion to end hunger.”

Jean Wegener, who has led Serving People in Need (SPIN) for 26 of its 30 years, is passionate about helping the homeless and low-income families through SPIN, whose mission is to restore Orange County’s families and individuals in crisis to housing and permanent self-sufficiency through its long-term, proven case management and support services. Why does she do it? “When you hear the words, ‘My whole life changed when you helped,’ you know you are doing something right.”

Alzheimer’s Orange County (AOC), formerly associated with Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter, has been providing programs and services for Orange County residents battling Alzheimer’s and dementia for 35 years. Led for 16 years by CEO Jim McAleer, AOC’s “Walk4ALZ” walk-a-thons in Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Angel Stadium in Anaheim attract on average 12,000 walkers every year to raise more than $500,000 for the cause. As McAleer says, “It is our premier fundraiser, with 100% of the money raised staying in Orange County to support a host of in-person programs for people with memory loss and their caregivers.”

The 2017 Michael Chang Tennis Classic, held at Newport Beach Tennis Club on July 29th, benefited HomeAid OC, an organization devoted to assisting the homeless while they move toward self-sufficiency through its programs, and the Chang Family Foundation, whose mission is to introduce people to Christ through sports.

I imagine many of you are involved and supporting nonprofits of your choosing right now. I think the people of Orange County are exceptional in their commitment to help others. When I attend National Philanthropy Day Orange County in November every year, I am reminded of that fact. Listening to the stories of people, nonprofits and businesses who are genuinely making a difference in the lives of others is truly heartwarming.

Until next time,

Donna Bunce, Editor

Cover: Kei Nishikori at the 2017 Michel Chang Tennis Classic at the Newport Beach Tennis Club on July 29. Nishikori is ranked No. 8 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals/Photo: Ana Launes