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San Benito's United Way nonprofit support goes far and wide

Community Investment Grants were announced in the evening glow of GardenShoppe's outdoor patio in Hollister.
Irene Davis (left) of Teknova receives certificate from Vicki Fortino, United Way of San Benito County. Photo by Leslie David.
UWSBC Board Chair Sylvia Jaime with San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho. Photo by Leslie David.
Denise Cauthen-Wright and Patrick Ellis with Chamberlain's in Hollister. Photo by Leslie David.
Cristina Banuelos, Senior Council. Photo by Leslie David.
Greg Dinsmore, Hope Services. Photo by Leslie David.
Alejandra Vargas, Suicide Prevention. Photo by Leslie David.
Esther Curtice, Executive Director of CASA, and United Way of San Benito Executive Director Vicki Fortino. Photo by Leslie David.
Jennifer Laine, San Benito Arts Council. Photo by Leslie David.
Patti Fernandez, Girls, Inc. Photo by Leslie David.
Teknova has an employee giving plan with United Way and was well represented at the event. Photo by Leslie David.

United Way of San Benito County spread lots of cheer Aug. 28 at the GardenShoppe and Wine Bar in Hollister.  The nonprofit agency issued grants to 25 local nonprofits that serve needs all around San Benito County.

Once approved, United Way of San Benito County (UWSBC) Community Investment Grant recipients are typically granted for three consecutive years. Vicki Fortino, executive director with United Way, told guests about the special event, “We do this because we think it is valuable for all of us to learn what is happening in our community.”

Fortino thanked local businesses Teknova, Graniterock, Target and Hazel Hawkins Hospital for their employee giving campaigns, which have added to the impact of the growing United Way Community Investment Grant program. BenitoLink was a Community Investment Grant recipient.

The following nonprofits were issued grants in one of United Way’s three focus areas: Youth Success, Family Financial Stability and Good Health.

Youth Access

  • Boy Scouts of America
  • CASA of San Benito County
  • Footsteps 2 Brilliance
  • Friends of the SBC Free Library
  • Girls, Inc.
  • Junior Achievement of Northern California, Inc.
  • San Benito Arts Council
  • YMCA of San Benito County

Family Stability

  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey
  • Emmaus House
  • Hope Services
  • Jovenes de Antano
  • Salvation Army
  • Seniors Council
  • Small Steps

Good Health

  • Advocacy, Inc.
  • Ag Against Hunger
  • Chamberlain’s Children Center
  • Community Food Bank of San Benito
  • Partnership for Children
  • Suicide Prevention Services
  • Family Service Agency of the Central Coast
  • Sun Street Centers

Representatives from area nonprofits spoke briefly about their programs. Around 75 guests attended, including San Benito County Supervisors Anthony Botelho and Mark Medina, and Hollister Councilman and Supervisor District 4 candidate Jim Gillio. The Community Foundation for San Benito County, the hub for the county nonprofit agencies, was represented by President/CEO Gary Byrne.

Fortino said the evening was a chance to hear about interesting things nonprofits are doing all around the county.

“United Way of San Benito County enjoys this opportunity to bring our nonprofit community together, not only to pick up their allocations, but to network and share programs that UWSBC is helping to fund and that are contributing to the health, well being and equity of our residents,” Fortino said.

San Benito County Office of Education Superintendent Krystal Lomanto pointed out the recent United Way “Stuff the Bus” campaign ended with over 2,300 backpacks given out to students, allowing them to start school fully-equipped, like their classmates. Lomanto also mentioned a reading project she has supported, Footsteps 2 Brilliance, which is also supported by UWSBC.

Mary Hubble spoke about Small Steps, saying their goal was a warm jacket and a pair of shoes for local youth in need.

“You’d think it would be hard to come up with enough to do it, but in this community, it wasn’t,” she said with pride.

BenitoLink was granted $1,000 by United Way. The funds will continue to support local youth through the nonprofit news site’s Junior Journalism Project, which invites young writers, artists and photographers to produce articles for the online, community-supported nonprofit news site and in many cases, offer youth payment for their work. In 2018, BenitoLink has published stories and photographs from students at Calaveras School and San Benito High School, both in Hollister. BenitoLink welcomes articles from San Benito County students. 

“The intent behind it is to really invite opinions and stories from our youth in San Benito County and hear from individuals on a grassroots level,” said Leslie David, executive director with BenitoLink.

This summer, two interns worked on the BenitoLink team as reporters: Diviana Navarro from Castroville and Noe Magaña from Hollister. Magaña is now part of the BenitoLink reporter team and Navarro has been invited to return in 2019. The United Way funding partially supports this growing community outreach program.

Fortino closed out the evening by asking local nonprofits in attendance to take a moment and make sure their information is listed on 211, which connects people in need with government and nonprofit agencies that have services. United Way is working with county agencies to help communicate services via the 211 phone system which connects residents to support services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



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