ENCINITAS — When the new coronavirus made its way to San Diego County, prompting mandatory stay-at-home orders and business closures, Encinitas resident Joe Dolan didn’t hesitate to start a campaign in support of one group he cared about: The folks behind the Encinitas Ranch.
The longtime Encinitas resident launched a GoFundMe campaign to fundraise money for the employees of his beloved course. The fundraiser collected more than $9,000 in donations, which were distributed to recipients on Good Friday.
“This was merely a personal idea that struck me during the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the financial impact that it caused on most of the employees of Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, also known as ‘The Ranch,’” Dolan said.
Dolan, who has been playing at the golf course since 1998 and joined the men’s team in 2016, said he’s been touched by how the community has rallied behind the campaign. Most importantly, he’s touched by the support the community has offered the Encinitas Ranch employees.
“It’s truly heartwarming,” said Dolan, who launched the GoFundMe campaign on March 25. “For almost 100 donations in seven days, it’s shown me what friendship and caring personalities can accomplish.”
Dolan, who has lived in Encinitas since 1999 with wife, Arlette, and their two children, said the busy golf course is a gem in San Diego County that he doesn’t foresee closing as a result of the pandemic. However, he wanted to supply a bit of comfort to the employees who aren’t working at the moment.
“It’s one of the cornerstones of a very vibrant area of North San Diego County,”
Dolan said. “Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, a member of JC Golf Resorts, has routinely headed the public recreation leaderboard for ‘Places to Play Golf’ in a tourist-rich area.”
Dan Vahalla, one of many donors of the campaign, said he still remembers the day the golf course was built.
“I’m an avid golfer and have been a resident of Encinitas for over 30 years, even before the golf course was built,” said Vahalla, who is also captain of the men’s golf team. “When the course went in, I thought I died and went to heaven.”
Although he misses playing rounds with his friends, Valhalla said he’s heartbroken about the temporary closure.
“I miss the golf, but more importantly on a larger scale, all the people that have been affected,” Valhalla said. “I’m hoping my small contribution can help someone over there at some level. The folks at Encinitas Ranch are wonderful people.”
Dolan hopes those wonderful people behind the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course know they have a community full of friends who are there for them.
“(The ultimate goal of the fundraising campaign is) to show our friends who work at The Ranch during the hardship of being furloughed that we’re thinking of them with these simple donations,” Dolan said.
For more information about the fundraising campaign or to make a donation, go to gofundme.com/f/help-for-our-friends-at-the-ranch.