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Helping residents is all in a day’s work

RANCHO SANTA FE — Next year the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation will celebrate its 30th anniversary and at that time its executive director Christina Wilson will have been on board nearly half that time.
“I work with an amazing group of people and I am fortunate enough to participate in the philanthropy of wonderful people in our region and our community,” Wilson said. “It is a real privilege.”
She said the best thing about her job is that it is wonderful to be paid to do good work and to know the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation has changed someone’s life for the better.
“I work for a board of directors and we are a team,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, we have made a difference in someone’s life.”
So far, the foundation has given in excess of $100 million to worthy causes and people in need, she said.
Wilson grew up in Rancho Santa Fe.
Her family moved here in 1949. She attended local schools and attended University of California, Davis for her undergraduate degree. Then she came home.
In her position at the foundation, which she has held for 13 years, she manages all operations of the organization.
“I work with the board of directors on development and fundraising and I am the face of the foundation out in the community in Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, wherever,” she said.
‘It’s a huge responsibility. It’s important that people throughout our region recognize that those who live in Rancho Santa Fe and who work with us have been blessed with the ability to give back,” she said. “We try to leverage assets with other donors so those who are blessed to be in this position are able to do so effectively.”
She said one of the best examples of their philanthropy is an initiative to form an armed forces interest group.
“What we do through (AFIG) is try to raise awareness of the needs of the military in the whole county and raise funds to support those needs. It’s not just about Rancho Santa Fe. It is about the needs of the military and doing our part to support them, giving money, time and donating goods. There are loads of ways people can help. It does not have to be just writing a check,” she said.
She said the foundation raises the money through its donors and 100 percent of it is given to service providers working with the military like the Armed Forces YMCA on Camp Pendleton, the USO and Veterans Village.
“We are not doing the work ourselves,” she said. “We are giving to the organizations who do that well the funds to be able to do that better. They (military members) are our friends and neighbors and they are serving our country.”
Another program close to the heart of the foundation is one that supports emancipated foster youth who at 18 are turned out into the world on their own.
“We are working with a number of organizations in forming a coalition to see how we can do more for those kids, help them get into college and enable them to set up an apartment,” she said.
Wilson said there are currently abut 7,000 foster children in San Diego County and about 600 to 700 are emancipated each year with no further support from the system. They are simply turned out.
The foundation also gives a helping hand to schools.
“The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation has provided the school district with funds to enhance education and increase the experiences of our students in the arts,” said Lindy Delaney, superintendent. “Through their generosity and support, we have been able to fund new programs and purchase equipment for student education. “We appreciate the partnership and support executive director Christy Wilson and the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation provide our school and community.”
The foundation also helps fund the Helen Woodward Animal Center and its therapeutic riding program.
In addition, the foundation spearheaded the effort to save the local eucalyptus trees by researching and introducing wasps from Australia to stop the lerp psyllid that were killing the trees.
They also helped many people during the 2007 Witch Creek Fire who had lost their homes, not just in Rancho Santa Fe, but throughout the fire district, she said.
The foundation has a 30-member board of directors with Charles J. Yash as chairman; Robert H. Goldsmith as vice chairman; Gigi Fenley as secretary; and Scott Robinsonas treasurer.
The 30 members sit on six committees that meet regularly which keeps the organization running smoothly.
To learn more, call (858) 756-6557.