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How Community Can Transcend Politics


As a community foundation, Rancho Santa Fe Foundation’s mission is to make connections among people and organizations that build and strengthen local communities. We continually look for innovative ways to make those connections. That’s why we were interested in David Brooks’ idea about community-building in response to trends in our national politics.

In a recent NY Times column, David Brooks looks past the political parties and candidates and sees the pain people experience in difficult circumstances as largely responsible for the current political climate. For example, he cites the surging suicide rate reflecting the pain of social isolation, and the pain of economic hardship reflecting a sense that the American dream is increasingly out of reach.

How do we respond to these types of pain in our communities? Brooks says it is essential to cross over comfortable boundaries and go to where the pain is. “We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation,” he says.

We think that’s a good way to start. Here we offer some ideas for that one activity that could transcend politics and build community. Please consider getting involved in some small way with one of these issues in our local communities. We’ll add more ideas in future posts, so please connect with us as a resource for your community engagement.

Refugee Resettlement

 San Diego County has received more refugees than any other region in California for the last seven years in a row, according to data collected by the state. In fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 – Sept. 30, 2015) San Diego County received 2,025 refugees, and in the first three months of fiscal year 2016, the county received 465 refugees.

Four federally sanctioned refugee resettlement agencies help the new arrivals to get settled in the community: International Rescue Committee, Catholic Charities, Alliance for African Assistance, and Jewish Family Service of San Diego. These organizations accept financial contributions, donations of clothing and supplies and volunteers to assist in refugee resettlement.

Human Trafficking

Have you heard the staggering statistic that an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people per year are victims/survivors of sex trafficking in San Diego County? North County Lifeline, a social services nonprofit based in Vista, leads a San Diego County coalition of agencies working together to coordinate services for trafficking victims. The coalition of seven agencies recently received a $1 million state grant for providing victims/survivors with rehabilitation and recovery services.

In addition to North County Lifeline, the partnering agencies are: Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition; Center for Community Solutions; GenerateHope; La Maestra Community Health Centers; San Diego Youth Services; and Survivor Leadership Network of San Diego. North County Lifeline’s anti-human trafficking program, ProjectLIFE, will provide the goals and evaluation methods for the collaboration. These agencies accept financial contributions that would expand the impact of their work to create safe places for people who have been abused and exploited.

Senior Needs

 The senior population boom is happening in plain sight in San Diego County, but even so, seniors say they often feel invisible. Many seniors want to stay in their homes as they age, but they need community support and access to services to do so. According to San Diego County data, between 2000 and 2030, the County’s population age 65 and over will increase 130 percent, and age 75 and over will increase 111 percent.

North County Senior Connections is a collaborative program providing food truck lunches to vulnerable seniors in North County communities to address food security, nutrition and socialization. Interfaith Community Services, Dreams for Change, and San Diego Food Bank North County Warehouse provide the food truck, nutritious meals, social programs and access to services. Rancho Santa Fe Foundation funds this program with a multi-year grant, and we invite financial contributions to sustain and expand this program for the growing number of seniors in our communities.

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation is building community. Won’t you join us by getting involved with one of these organizations or programs? Let us know how we can help you get connected.

One thought on “How Community Can Transcend Politics

  1. What always inspires me is how good I feel personally when I am doing something to make others feel good … try it – I think you will agree with me! And you will want to do more and more …

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