RANCHO SANTA FE — To Erin Weidner, her new job as the executive director of the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center is the icing on the cake of coming home.
“I grew up here,” Weidner said. “My girlfriends and I would ride our horses down to Ashley’s (grocery store) and buy candy. I was 10 or 11. We won all the reading contests because we would sit out on the lawn between the library and the post office reading books.”
Some 40 years ago when the community center was called Rancho Youth, Weidner said there was a wood shop. There were arts, crafts and games. They put on musicals and she learned to surf.
She went to Rancho Santa Fe School when R. Roger Rowe was her principal and she graduated from Torrey Pines High School.
When Executive Director Erin Leahy decided to leave the community center and return to school for her masters degree, the board decided who better to take the reins than someone who had taken part in the programs when it was still called Rancho Youth.
It was Leahy who was the first to recognize Weidner would be perfect for the job and encouraged her to apply.
“It’s (the job) a wonderful fit,” Weidner said. “It’s a well run organization with a wonderful staff.”
She moved back to Rancho Santa Fe 1 1/2 years ago and is thrilled to be back.
“This is where I want to spend the next 50 years,” she said.
Weidner says her first goal, as executive director is to widen the base of membership. She said the programs for kids are vibrant and affective, but it is time to offer some more activities for teens and adults.
She has already organized the wine tasting event for adults called Soiree de vin which have been well attended. She got the idea from an event she founded in Park City, Utah, where she lived after graduating from BYU.
She married and had a family, but because her youngest son was born with Spina Bifida, she became involved with him in adaptive sports.
To raise money for his programs, she founded a wine and food weekend named Red, White and Snow. The event is so successful that each of its eight years in existence has raised about $750,000 in one weekend.
“It’s a special weekend and my way of paying it forward because of what they have done for my son,” she said.
She has other ideas for bringing the Rancho Santa Fe community together such as putting together walking or running groups. She is working on an event called Ranch Generations, which asks everyone to bring another from another generation, which would bring all different ages to the program.
She said there is interest in day trips for grown ups as well. The possibilities are unlimited she said.
For teens, she is forming a leadership group and plans to hand the activities over to them to plan, such as theme dances, picnics and fundraisers.
“They can have good, clean wholesome fun,” she said.
She is reaching out to other clubs, groups and organizations in the community.
“In this challenging economy, we need each other more,” she said.
Weidner said she wants a little known fact to become common knowledge. Anyone in the 92067 and 92091 can join the community center. They do not have to live within the Covenant.
To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center, contact Weidner at [email protected] or call (858) 756-2461
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