Executive directors share challenges and solutions at roundtable

Nonprofit leaders meet with the Community Foundation several times a year to discuss projects, issues, and catch up on each other’s work.
Esther Curtice with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Photo by Leslie David.
Brenda Weatherly with the Community Foundation hands out a quick survey to the nonprofits. Photo by Leslie David.
Executive Directors and representatives from local nonprofits listened about the different projects each business is involved in this spring. Photo by Leslie David.

Local nonprofits gathered March 5 for the Executive Director Roundtable hosted by the Community Foundation for San Benito County at Paine’s Restaurant in Hollister. Foundation staff updated guests on its current activities and grant opportunities. Those attending filled out a survey about their interests, then presented reports on their organizations and upcoming events.

Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation—Kris Waller, foundation director

“Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation is currently in the middle of their ‘Enhancing Our Outpatient Health Care Centers’ campaign with the refurbishment of the Fourth Street Clinic,” Director Kris Waller said. “The Improvements will help provide a better overall experience for the approximately 1,500 patients that are seen at this facility each month.

“The Foundation is very pleased to be able to assist the Central Coast YMCA with their Diabetes Prevention Program by providing funding for patients that are not able to afford the program. This program has been very successful in San Benito County with the fifth cohort starting the end of April,” she added.

Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation provides financial resources to support Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital and all of the facilities in the San Benito Health Care District, including the Skilled Nursing Facility, the Rural Health Center, Multi Specialty Center, Orthopedic Center, and the Barragan Family Diabetes Center.

CASA San Benito County—Esther Curtice, executive director

“The workday in my world is never the same. Even if my day is scheduled and planned, inevitably there are interruptions that will change it,” Curtice said.

“Case work always takes precedence, since advocating for foster children is our mission. Recruiting, training and managing advocates and their caseloads is our responsibility. A phone call or email from an advocate or community partner regarding a child or a situation can take five minutes or eight hours or more in order to resolve it.”

Curtice added, “A great example is a situation that came up not so long ago when a child was placed in a foster home outside of our county. We received a phone call from Social Services notifying us the child seemed depressed and was unresponsive.

“We needed to bring the child back to San Benito County where we could immediately provide the resources and care this child needed. However, finding a foster home in San Benito County is very challenging because of the limited number that are available. With several agencies working on it, together with concerned friends of the family, we were able to place the child in a San Benito County foster home close to services, resources and support.”

In addition, Curtice said, “Hearings, reports, meetings, trainings, etc. are a constant part of the program work that keeps our agency hopping. Yet there are other daily responsibilities to address. Staff at small nonprofit agencies often wear many hats to keep the operation and program moving forward. The agency’s programs support the mission and are the reason why we do what we do, however it requires funding to operate it.

“At our agency, a portion of our funding comes from Judicial Council of California, and the remainder of our budget is made up from grant funding, fundraisers and donor giving. Fund development: it’s time consuming work but very necessary to keep the doors open!

“We are working on several grant applications and we have our annual fundraiser event, Sip, Savor & Celebrate coming up on May 11. This is the time of the year we have to devote more time to coordinate our fundraiser and work toward a successful experience for our donors and supporters,” she said.

CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates of San Benito County, serves children in the dependency system of the San Benito County Superior Court, commonly known as foster children in the foster care system. An average of 80-plus children from the community each year are placed in the San Benito County foster care system because of parental abuse or neglect. These are children in crisis.

St. Francis Retreat—Ed DeGroot, director of operations

“It’s been an incredibly busy time at St. Francis Retreat with a record number of guests and events these past few months. We are happy to be a place of solace and creativity for so many different types of groups. From young couples planning for their marriages to people in recovery from various addictions, our guests change day to day,” DeGroot said.

“Along with all that we are also dealing with succession planning so that our mission can continue as seasoned leadership plans to depart and new leaders are sought to assume those roles,” he added. “It has also been a time of physical renewal of the road up the hill to the retreat. Two miles of endless potholes have been replaced with a new three-inch thick asphalt drive! The next challenge is to renovate the oldest guest quarters onsite—rooms initially built in 1951.”

He continued, “And in the spirit of St. Francis, we have paid attention to our environment by increasing the drought-tolerant plantings on our grounds and embarking on the journey to become a certified green business.”

St. Francis Retreat Center is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the St. Barbara Province, located in San Juan Bautista. Its mission is to provide a peaceful and contemplative environment conducive to renewal of mind, body and soul. In the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the center’s staff is committed to stewardship of the earth by honoring and preserving the center’s natural surroundings while extending hospitality and spiritual support to peoples of all faiths.

First 5 San Benito—Lisa Faulkner, executive director

“First 5 San Benito is moving forward with its new strategic plan that will amplify San Benito’s many strengths and turn the curve on indicators that have the greatest impact on the health and well-being of children, prenatal through age five, and their families,” Faulkner said. “First 5 plans to achieve this impact through enhanced collaboration with multiple sectors and organizations in San Benito to better serve families. This commission’s annual operational budget has increased from $500,000 per year (Prop 10) to $1.2 million per year, reflecting gains made from other diverse, sustainable revenue streams.

“As part of the new strategic plan, First 5 San Benito will continue providing direct services through home visits, early childhood education, parent education and early childhood educator professional development,” she added. “The collaborative effort and intervention services, resources and referrals will be in the new San Benito County Family Resource and Impact Center, which is located at 351 Tres PInos Road, Suite 103A in Hollister.”

First 5 was created by voters under Proposition 10 in recognition that children’s health and education are a top priority, especially in the early years of development. Through the passage of Prop 10, which added a 50-cent-per-pack tax on tobacco products, revenue from the tax is deposited into a trust fund, then dispersed with the intent to promote, support and improve early development of children from the prenatal stage through five years of age and their families.

United Way of San Benito County—Vicki Fortino, San Benito coordinator

“United Way of San Benito County is planning a re-launch of our 211 hotline,” Fortino said. “We are working with the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services on bringing texting capabilities to San Benito County for use in an emergency or disaster. 211 has the capability of texting our residents important information such as road closures, shelter locations, animal help, etc., as well as helping residents through the financial aid issues. This all in addition to the everyday services that 211 connects our residents to daily.”

Fortino told the group, “Housing continues to be the No. 1 call received.”

In addition, she said, “We are currently seeking funders to help with the $25,000 needed to operate 211 services in San Benito County. We are very grateful to the Office of Emergency Services, the County of San Benito, First 5 and individual donors who are helping us reach this goal.”

Fortino also said United Way of San Benito County is in its final phase of three-year allocations to nonprofit partners. The committee is expected to review the programs and assess the needs of the community. She asked for everyone to save the date for the the United Way Gala on Oct. 19 at The Barn by Leal, located at 300 Maranatha Drive in Hollister.

United Way of San Benito County supports nonprofit health and human services organizations that work for children at risk, isolated seniors, families in need and individuals faced with mental and physical illness. Partners are chosen because of the work they do toward United Way goals including youth success in school and in life; financially stable and independent families; and residents achieving good health.

BenitoLink—Leslie David, executive director

BenitoLink has been updating its design and will soon be working with local nonprofits to get familiar with the new system,” Leslie David said. “The format was selected because it is more commonly known and user-friendly. We want to help our fellow nonprofits reach the community with their stories through BenitoLink. If you have an event or story and don’t know how to load it up on the site yourself, contact our content manager Nicholas Preciado.” The website has just started its “Nonprofit Club”, which will provide news media tutoring and help local nonprofits share their stories and successes.

“We are collaborating  with the Community Foundation for San Benito County to get the message out about our county’s nonprofits and the many services they provide,” she said. “Please feel free to call or stop by our office at 829 San Benito Street, Suite 200, in Hollister, so we can learn more about you.”

David pointed out that BenitoLink is  a local news organization and a nonprofit that continues to serve thanks to individual community support, major donors and grants. The BenitoLink website accepts donations, and has its major fundraiser “Pledge of Champions” in the fall.

“We also want to tell you about our Open Editorials, where we invite groups and individuals to come meet the BenitoLink team. It’s just a chance to tell us about what you’ve been up to and learn a little about San Benito’s own community-based nonprofit news. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] so you can join us for one of the Open Editorial sessions.”

David said that BenitoLink is currently looking for local interns who want to develop skills and acquire work experience. “We are open to interns of all ages and backgrounds. Interns can write, do graphics, help with story research, social media and website postings, photography or marketing and sales. Please contact board member Lois Locci if you are interested in an internship opportunity.

“We also want to mention that we have Spanish-speaking staff members and are interested in hearing from our whole community. So if Spanish speakers have a story or topic they would like to share, contact Noe Magaña. For events, sponsorships and outreach, contact Laura Romero.”

BenitoLink is San Benito County’s online, nonprofit news organization. Nonprofit news sites are service-oriented and community-supported in order to provide essential information on a local level. BenitoLink has served San Benito County since 2012 and became a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit in December 2015. It was initially a project funded by the Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation for San Benito County.

Community Foundation for San Benito County—Brenda Weatherly, director of donor and community services

Community Foundation for San Benito County presented the 2019 grant cycles:

  • First cycle—opened Feb. 15 with an application deadline of April 19.
  • Second cycle—opens Aug. 2 with an application deadline of Oct. 4.

The Foundation staff also surveyed attendees on their greatest needs, biggest concerns and desired education, training, and seminar topics.

“The Executive Director Round Table meetings are hosted by the Community Foundation for San Benito County on a quarterly basis,” Weatherly said. “These meetings provide educational resources and networking opportunities to nonprofits serving San Benito County that employ an executive director. Development staff for these organizations may also be invited if the topics pertain to fundraising and donor development.

“The Community Foundation convenes these meetings so participants can learn best practices, address common concerns and assist in nonprofit growth and capacity-building,” she said.

Upcoming Executive Director Roundtables are scheduled for May 28, July 23 and Sept. 24 in the main dining room at Paine’s Restaurant from 8-10 a.m.

The Community Foundation for San Benito County is dedicated to building a stronger community and enhancing the quality of life in San Benito County. It is focused on helping local nonprofits and other organizations build a vibrant county. Since its inception, it has granted over $6 million to a variety of local causes and nonprofits.


BenitoLink Staff