‘Tis the season for giving and expressing gratitude.
Coronado locals share their thoughts on how to give in the ways that matter — no shiny wrapping paper needed.
“We are a greatly blessed community that comes together to bless others. The Bible says, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ and Children of the Nations has given us an opportunity to give back in a tangible way. For 25 cents, we can package a meal of lentils, chicken and rice for a hungry child in the Dominican Republic. In October 2012, the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church packaged 10,000 meals in one hour. Then, in July, my family went to the Dominican Republic to visit the children we sponsored and, because there happened to be an approaching tropical storm, Children of the Nations delivered the exact meals we’d packaged ourselves months before in case the storms wiped out the roads. There were the packages, all decorated with words of love and encouragement from our own little church in Coronado. It was amazing to see the direct effect of our efforts. Later, when we said goodbye to Mauricio, one of the little boys we sponsor, he asked if we could take him with us. It was so bittersweet because I knew that couldn’t happen, but I also knew he had felt loved and safe and cared for through us.”
~ Reverend Lisa Johnson, assistant minister at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Children of the Nations makes it possible for communities to come together locally and serve children thousands of miles away. They provide opportunities for mass meal packaging to be delivered to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Africa, as well as ways to sponsor families or individual children, send school supplies, letters of encouragement, and money for food, clothes, and education. On Nov. 2, the St. Pauls United Methodist Church and community members came together in Spreckels Park and packaged more than 40,000 meals to be sent to needy children in the Dominican Republic.
“The beginning of Project Sammich was fueled by an impromptu mission my mom planned last Thanksgiving, which involved DaniRose, my family and I squeezing grudgingly into a minivan and heading downtown with a bag full of PB&Js. My closed mindset was immediately changed with the first sandwich we passed out. The response we received was completely heartwarming and the act of giving was infectious. Donating money to a cause is satisfying, don’t get us wrong; but being able to actually see the difference you are making in someone’s day is a completely different experience. It’s life changing. This project impacts those volunteering as much is it does the homeless.”
-Molly Ryan, co-founder of Project Sammich and Coronado High School senior
“Interacting with and giving to those in need has a way of snapping you out of your own self-absorption. We get so wrapped up in our own day-to-day life that we become desensitized to other people and their feelings. We walk past a man begging for change and fail to realize how similar we are. We forget to acknowledge one another simply as humans. Through the small act of giving out sandwiches, I have been shown more kindness, gratitude, and love from strangers than I could have ever imagined possible. The grandness or the simplicity of the gesture doesn’t matter —we have passed out 80 sandwiches in one mission and 1,000 in another — the outcome is always the same. I leave feeling more connected — not just as a part of a community, but as part of a species.”
~ DaniRose Hill, co-founder of Project Sammich and Coronado High School senior
What started as a one-time Thanksgiving Day deed quickly grew to an impassioned mission for Hill and Ryan. The girls founded Project Sammich, enlisting the help of friends and community members to make and distribute their goal of at least 5,000 sandwiches to San Diego homeless by the end of their senior year. Thus far, after eight delivery missions, they’ve given out more than 2,000 sandwiches.
“When I see a Cub Scout pack comprised of elementary school children who, with their parent leaders, commit to donating $1,000 per year in support of their local school at the Telethon for five consecutive years, that speaks to everything that is good about our community. Seeing the boys and their pack leaders live on the stage with hundreds of dedicated volunteers working the phone bank and behind the scenes and passionate students filming and directing, that is truly the art of giving at its very best. It’s an honor to serve our greater school community, thanks to the generosity of so many.”
~ Patty Cowan, Coronado Schools Foundation CEO
The Coronado Schools Foundation will host its annual benefit auction on Nov. 15, and its annual telethon in March with proceeds from both events benefitting Coronado schools. The foundation has raised and distributed $6.2 million dollars since 1982. Over the last decade, as funding has declined while school expenses have increased, CSF’s donations to the schools have increased by more than 340 percent thanks to the generosity of those who donate.
“Today at school my friend Siena helped me build a house out of wooden bricks. She was using her bricks to build a tower but saw that I needed help so she put hers with mine so we could build together. It made me feel happy and good.”
~ Isabella Marie Braga, age 7, Village Elementary second grader
Isabella is a member of Brownie Troop 1, the longest running troop on the West Coast. Recently the troop volunteered at the Coronado Fire Department open house, running a concessions stand to raise money for a local burn unit.
“Generosity has a powerful ripple effect, especially in the Coronado community. When an X-Ray technician was performing an exam for a patient at Sharp Coronado Hospital, he spotted something that potentially needed some further attention. He took the extra time and effort to investigate and, as a result, discovered a life-threatening mass. The patient was admitted for emergency surgery and his life was saved by the technician’s willingness to go the extra step in caregiving. In appreciation for the care he received, the patient was inspired to get involved. He is now a valued member of the foundation board of directors. He and his spouse both volunteer in the hospital and their children and grandchildren have chosen to give back to the foundation. We are honored that the small act of generosity made by one hospital employee has transcended generations and created a lasting legacy at the hospital.”
~Nora Boswell, director of development, Coronado Hospital Foundation
Since 1978, Coronado Hospital Foundation has been dedicated to enhancing the health-care needs of Coronado residents, visitors and the surrounding community through support of programs, services and equipment at Sharp Coronado Hospital. The foundation raises funds from individuals and businesses to support the needs of the hospital and its patients through various giving opportunities and events.
“If you have something — anything — that someone else can use or benefit from, go ahead and give it away. It makes you feel good to give. Growing up, our town was rough as there were lots of kids like me who lost their dads in the Navy (Vietnam) who needed guidance. Luckily, as a youngster I had a lot of people helping me out. People like Stan Antrim looked after young surfers like me, and I want to pay it forward. The continuity is important!”
~ Stan Searfus, owner, Blue Wave Coronado Surf Camp
Many locals sing praises for Searfus; one local teacher said, “He’s not the type to toot his own horn but he is so beautifully old school in his approach to teaching surf, his teamwork sensibilities, love for community, and life values. In 20 years of teaching I’ve had countless students say that he was a defining mentor for them. He’s always working with philanthropies like Wounded Warriors and Optimist Club, but to truly understand his passion and generosity you’d have to watch him teach surf to little ones. The guy is always passionate, stoked, and happy!”
“Generosity is equivalent to love. Love yourself, love others, and, in the end, you get what you give. I opened my doors today to show my gratitude to the community that has given me so much.”
~ Mayson Hwa, co-owner of Rhinoceros Cafe
On Sept. 2, Hwa opened her restaurant doors one last time after 22 years in business and served an elaborate lunchtime meal — for free — to everyone who entered.