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Groundwork laid for new foundation

By Phyllis Pfeiffer

We are blessed with panoramic ocean views, beautiful beaches and sunsets “to die for.” We are privileged to be home to renowned cultural institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the La Jolla Playhouse and the Music Society as well as a world-class university and medical school.

Substantial medical and scientific research is being conducted at august facilities such as the Salk, Burnham and UCSD. We have an abundance of civic-minded individuals who donate time and energy to organizations like the Town Council, Community Planning Association and Promote La Jolla.

We are most fortunate to be an affluent community; La Jollans give generously and often to support local, regional and national charities and the arts, even in these trying economic times. When there is a need, La Jollans open their wallets for hometown projects, whether it’s building a new fire station, a playground in the Shores or enhancing facilities at La Jolla High.

Even so, something appears to be lacking. Many La Jollans have second homes or vacation in communities such as Aspen and Sun Valley. When they compare La Jolla to these famous resorts, our jewel does not compare favorably with the luster of these communities and falls short in some facets.

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So what’s missing?

Perhaps it’s the feeling of community, a connection to each other and a pride in our enclave. Gone is the Off The Wall Street Dance started in the early ‘80s and enjoyed for many years. It was a celebration of the end of summer that helped support the medical school - but more important, it was a street party, where La Jollans got together and got connected. We danced, we ate, we drank and we partied together.

What’s also missing is an organization that is purely philanthropic and dedicated exclusively to the greater good of La Jolla. Cities everywhere are short of funds and waiting for San Diego to landscape “The Throat” or beautify the Village, to improve facilities for our children or our seniors, is like “Waiting for Godot.” In response, a number of communities in San Diego have formed local charitable foundations to give back to their communities.

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Inspired by the desire to enrich the environmental, social and cultural experience of La Jolla, a small group of La Jollans have come together to create the La Jolla Community Foundation. Working in partnership with the San Diego Foundation, the purpose of this charitable foundation is to inspire La Jollans to engage in significant philanthropy so that we may enhance the La Jolla community now and for generations to come.

As an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, which has granted more than $400 million since its inception in 1975, donors can be assured that funds will be secure and managed by a credible organization with a long history in San Diego.

The mission of the La Jolla Community Foundation is to encourage civic engagement and pride through local philanthropy.

Its purpose and vision are to:

  • Foster a sense of community and connection among La Jollans.
  • Enrich the environmental, social and cultural experience of La Jolla by creating inviting public spaces for the purpose of bringing people together.
  • Enhance the aesthetic character of the community through investment in a variety of public art forms, such as sculptures, fountains and gardens.
  • Provide La Jolla community members a vehicle for legacy planning and gifts as well as a program for special project funds.

Founding board members include: Murray Galinson, chairman of the board of San Diego National Bank; Andy Nelson, president and CEO of Willis Allen; restaurateur George Hauer of George’s at the Cove; Buzz Woolley, president of the Girard Foundation and founder of Voice of San Diego; and La Jolla Light publisher Phyllis Pfeiffer.
The founding board has announced that the inaugural project will be the Riford Center. Florence Riford established the center more than 35 years ago, and gave the building to San Diego as a senior center. It is the only public facility in La Jolla that serves adults and seniors. The foundation’s goal is to raise the capital to build the best adult facility in the country, here in La Jolla.

“We welcome this exciting community initiative. This support will be a wonderful boost to our efforts to renovate the center and adapt our programs to the changing needs of adults in La Jolla. It comes at the right time for us, when the over-50 population is expanding in La Jolla and so many people are looking to the Riford Center for adult activities and a sense of community,” said Jim Walker, chairman of the board of directors of The Riford Center.

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In addition to this worthy project, the La Jolla Community Foundation will also focus on endowment building, so that investments in the community can be maintained into the future. Gifts can be given in many forms including cash, real estate, retirement funds, securities or a gift from your estate.

You can become a member of the La Jolla Community Foundation by making a minimum donation of $1,000. Membership is for one year, and all members vote to determine where and how grant-making dollars are spent. Money may also be donated directly to support the Riford project.

Donations can be sent to:

The La Jolla Community Foundation

2508 Historic Decauter Road

Suite 200

San Diego, CA 92106

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Phyllis Pfeiffer is publisher of the La Jolla Light and chairman of the board of the La Jolla Community Foundation.