The Coast News Group
Posing for a picture before awarding Nicole Ketcher and Aeriell Woodhams of Operation HOPE their donations. From left to right: Andre Padilla, Theresa Newbern, Suzy Brase, Michelle McGowan, Aeriell Woodhams, and Nicole Ketcher. Photo by Alexis Friedman

Oceanside State Farm agents donate to Operation HOPE in Vista

VISTA — When State Farm announced their Good Neighbor Community Fund for agents to donate their time and money to organizations in their community, Agent Michelle McGowan of Oceanside knew exactly who she would help.

In a statement summarizing the fund, State Farm wrote that they are encouraging their agents “to meet community needs and inspire others into action,” which she precisely did.

McGowan felt called to aid the local homeless shelter, Operation HOPE-North County in Vista. She knew of Operation HOPE’s need for meals through her service at the shelter with the Rotary Club of El Camino Real (Oceanside).

Operation HOPE provides nightly meals to their residents, usually donated and served by local service organizations and churches.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Operation HOPE has had to stop having community volunteers serve meals to their residents and instead have their staff serve the donated meals due to health concerns.

The need for donated funds, like gift cards, has become increasingly necessary in order to provide healthy meals for homeless families residing in the shelter.

State Farm agents, Theresa Newbern and Andre Padilla of Vista, along with Suzy Brase of Carlsbad joined McGowan in donating to Operation HOPE through the State Farm Good Neighbor Community Fund.

Together the four agents donated 12 dinner meals to the 29 residents of Operation HOPE, totaling 336 meals.

Andre Padilla with Ketcher and Woodhams presenting his donations to them. Photo by Alexis Friedman

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic Operation HOPE shelter has had to change the way they serve their residents’ meals, but with the donations, they can continue serving with less worry.

While the agents were giving their donations, Aeriell Woodhams who oversees the shelter’s meal programs, thanked the agents for their donation saying, “You don’t know how much this means to us, thank you.”

Not only did the good neighbors from State Farm help the staff and residents of Operation HOPE, but they also supported numerous local restaurants in the Oceanside and Vista area by purchasing gift cards from them to donate. McGowan remarked how it “was a nice way to support local businesses and a charity at the same time.”

Nicole Ketcher, the Director of Resource Development at Operation HOPE remarked that “this donation comes full circle as a testament to our community coming together during challenging times.”

If you feel called to donate to Operation HOPE, visit their website at to find how you can best help them help serve homeless families of North County.

Alexis Friedman is an Oceanside native and a sophomore at Hofstra University.