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I am honored and proud to join the Giving Back Magazine team as the new Philanthropy Editor. I have served on multiple nonprofit boards and chaired numerous fundraisers throughout San Diego. I feel very lucky to live in a city that has so many individuals who choose to give back. Each week, I will feature some of these hometown heroes and the causes that are making a difference in our community.

Lori M Walton
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“As a leader, you need to lead by example.”

Upon arriving in San Diego 26 years ago, Ethan Van Thillo noticed that we did not have an annual event celebrating Latino Cinema. To fill the gap, Ethan created the San Diego Latino Film Festival as well as the non-profit Media Arts Center San Diego.

The San Diego Latino Film Festival is the largest fundraiser for the Media Arts Center San Diego. Purchasing a movie ticket and/or becoming a member, supports the youth media education programs that provide educational, work readiness, and technology skills to 32,000 underserved students throughout San Diego County.

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“OLP Graduates Are Changing the World.”

As the oldest high school in San Diego and the only all girls’ school in the county, The Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) has been educating the next generation of women leaders and innovators for more than 136 years. OLP strives to graduate responsible women committed to serving the needs of the world around them. Getting to know some of the students individually has been a rewarding part of Ann Navarra’s life.

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“Do what you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.”

Since 1961, Home of Guiding Hands has provided programming and housing for men, women and children with developmental disabilities. HGH is much more than caregivers; they are partners, facilitators, community members and teachers. HGH believes that individuals thrive when they can direct their own lives in a setting that offers a more fulfilling lifestyle with individualized attention, and opportunities for self-sufficiency as well as community integration and access.

The money raised at the Randy Jones Run, Walk & Roll will help HGH President, Mark Klaus maximize the independence, productivity and quality of life for the individuals at HGH.

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"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"

Twelve years ago, Danitza & Esteban Villanueva noticed the absence of a media outlet sharing positive stories of the people and organizations that shape our binational region. They decided to combine their talents to remedy this situation and Giving Back Magazine was the result. It was new territory as no one had ever published a bi-national magazine in two languages and distributed it in two countries! Over the years, they have shared stories of the people and organizations that are making our region better, and how together they are making a difference. 

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Giving Children & Their Families The Best Hope for A Cure

Gwynn Thomas began supporting Rady Children’s Hospital through an outreach program at San Diego Yacht Club called SailFest. SailFest brings children undergoing treatment for cancer and blood disorders at The Peckham Center, to the Club for a short boat cruise, BBQ and festivities. These children inspired Gwynn to do more, so in 2014, she founded “Race for Rady”, a regatta and dinner benefiting Rady Children’s Hospital Peckham Center. For her efforts, Gwynn received Rady’s “Miracle Maker of the Year” award. 

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Listen to understand, not to respond

Options is an annual event that began in 1993 and brings together over 700 women to celebrate the collective impact that Federation has on our local and global Jewish Community. This year, co-chair Britney Ewing will welcome guest speaker Orly Wahba who is a teacher, entrepreneur, and community activist passionate about inspiring and motivating people to make the world a kinder place. Orly gained international acclaim when her award-winning film, Kindness Boomerang, went viral receiving over 100 million views. 

Chairman Cody Martinez & Sycuan Casino

Play, Win, Together

Sycuan’s Gift Giving Ceremony is a celebration recognizing organizations that are making a difference in the community. Each December, members of the Sycuan Tribal Council and Sycuan Leadership Team choose one charity to donate to on behalf of Sycuan. Since 2006, the Giving Ceremony has given out close to one million dollars.

As Chairman of the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, Cody Martinez oversees Sycuan’s business operations as well as their commitment to being a philanthropic leader in San Diego.

Duane Roth & The Duane Roth Legacy Foundation

I Will Remember You.....

Friends remembering Duane Roth after his untimely passing July 21, 2013.

Bill Geppert - "The Duane Roth Legacy Foundation is a way to honor Duane and bring people together to benefit our community. Duane made a big difference and impact on San Diego and the Legacy Foundation continues his work."

Frank Carrillo & Fundación SIMNSA

Making Our Binational Region A Better Place

SIMNSA provides healthcare for the U.S. workforce who prefer to receive coverage in Mexico. SIMNSA took a realistic look at how healthcare needs differ when a border is crossed. SIMNSA brings a culturally sensitive viewpoint to their high quality, affordable and accessible (open on weekdays 8 am to midnight) healthcare plan for both the employer and employee. SIMNSA was the first Mexican HMO to be licensed as a health care service plan by the State of California.

In 2011, SIMNSA's CEO, Frank Carrillo created the nonprofit, Fundación SIMNSA. Frank believes that it is our social responsibility to get involved and make sure our communities are safe environments that harbor the best quality of life.

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