Las Patronas presents gifts from Wonderland Jewel Ball

Las Patronas president Kelly Kjos, 2020 Jewel Ball chair Shay Stephens, and 2020 Jewel Ball co-chairs Michelle Parker and Lin Foletta
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Against the wondrous background of sand and sea at the Marine Room on Jan. 22, ten San Diego non-profit organizations participated in a 74-year-old tradition and received generous grants from Las Patronas, a La Jolla organization with a long history of philanthropy.

Begun in 1946, Las Patronas is comprised of about 50 women dedicated to raising money for non-profits in need, women who share “a special camaraderie ... engaged with the nonprofit community,” said member Katherine Kozo.

Las Patronas president Kelly Kjos added: “What makes Las Patronas special is that we can give grants to such a wide range of non-profits. We give them capital items, so it’s an investment in their organization.”

The primary vehicle for Las Patronas’ fundraising is its annual Jewel Ball, a gala planned by Las Patronas members “built from the ground up,” said member Jill Peters.

The event is “unique because the fundraising is done beforehand,” explained Shay Stephens, 2020 Jewel Ball chair. “It’s a celebration for all of our donors and beneficiaries, a night to enjoy and have fun.”

Held every August at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, the 2019 Jewel Ball “Wonderland,” brought in over $947,000, with more than $420,000 going to Las Patronas’ major beneficiaries, and the balance disbursed to some 21 minor beneficiaries.

The annual beneficiary luncheon began with a speech by Kjos, who noted that each of the nine “very worthy organizations” received more than $20,000 each, thanks to the hard work of the Las Patronas members. “Everyone here today has played a really important role in raising funds and helping us fulfill our mission this year,” she affirmed. To the beneficiaries, Kjos said: “We are simply humbled by the work you all do in the community. When we see your needs, it inspires us to work harder.”

Kjos then presented the Spirit of Giving Award, which recognizes a long-term partnership that consistently supports the efforts of Las Patronas, to Holland America Line. Accepting the 2019 award, rep Patricia Sinay spoke of the honor of “being acknowledged by such a group of amazing, generous women.”

The Las Patronas 2019 Legacy Society Grant was then presented to The Monarch School, the “only K-12 school designed to exclusively educate students impacted by homelessness,” explained Carter Anderson, Monarch’s director of development, who also stated the school will gratefully use the grant to provide shade sails for its outdoor play area.

Las Patronas members Elsie Arrendondo and Jessica Castagnola with Carter Anderson (center) of The Monarch School
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The nine major beneficiaries received their checks from presenters 2019 Jewel Ball chair Nicole Velazquez and co-chairs Cathy Maywood and Shay Stephens. Velazquez described her pride at being partnered with organizations that are “making strides to improve the community, create opportunities and enrich the lives of the underprivileged.”

The nine recipients of Las Patronas funds were:

• Adaptive Sports and Recreation Association, for a wheelchair accessible van to transport disabled athletes.

• Alpha Project for the Homeless, for a dump truck for work programs that help homeless individuals transition into the workplace.

• The American Red Cross, for a cargo van to aid in disaster response by the Disaster Action Team.

• The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, for a 76-passenger bus to transport underprivileged youth to after-school activities.

• Family Health Centers of San Diego, for vital medical equipment to provide rehabilitation services and care for elderly patients.

• La Maestra Family Clinic, for a 27-passenger bus to transport at-risk youth to enriching educational experiences.

• Outside the Lens, for digital media equipment to engage disadvantaged students in transformative learning experiences.

• Rady Children’s Hospital, for a 3D printing system to produce cutting edge, patient-specific models for surgical procedures that empower both patients and doctors.

• San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, for Jaws of Life equipment to enable firefighters to perform critical rescue operations.

Las Patronas administers two grant cycles per year, Kjos explained, with each applicant visited by a grant team from Las Patronas as part of a “very thorough process” whereby organizations are chosen on the “basis of their reach and impact on the community and the strength of their mission.”

With the 2019 beneficiaries in receipt of their grants, Las Patronas looks forward to formulating the list of major beneficiaries for the next Jewel Ball — the “20/20 Spectacular: Vision for a Bright Future,” set for Saturday, Aug. 8, with preparations already underway. Inspired by the stories from the luncheon’s program, chair Stephens remarked “I can only hope that the 74th Jewel Ball is as successful as Wonderland.”