In a League of Their Own
This year, the Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito (ALRSD) will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary of being a chapter of Assistance League. For two decades, ALRSD has been dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children and adults affected by trauma, violence, and poverty in the communities that make up San Dieguito. Programs such as Operation School Bell, Assault Survivor Kits, and Hug-a-Bears are among the many ways ALRSD makes a positive impact for those in need. Join our conversation with ALRSD Marketing Committee Chair Judy Zinger-Weiss to learn more about how the organization continuously enriches the lives of those in the community.
Q&A with Marketing Committee Chair Judy Zinger-Weiss
Can you provide the history of the Assistance League as a national organization?
Assistance League was the first nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization founded in the West to recognize the potential of volunteers in helping those less fortunate attain a better, more meaningful life. Today, chapters across America address the emotional and physical needs of children and adults of all ages regardless of race or creed.
In 1919, Anne Smith Banning and a group of twelve friends, including Ada Edwards Laughlin, formed Assistance League of Southern California to provide food and clothing for local families severely impacted by World War I. As needs in adjoining communities were recognized, other organizations wished to follow this philanthropic philosophy. Anne Banning and Ada Laughlin organized National Assistance League® in 1935 to promote the growth of effective volunteerism through leadership training and education.
“I like working with ALRSD because it brings people together and strengthens the communities we serve.”
Assistance League chapters continue to fulfill Anne Banning’s philosophy of volunteer service: “To act as a friend at any and all times to men, women, and children in need of care, guidance, and assistance, spiritually, materially, and physically.” Today, Assistance League fosters community philanthropy through more than 25,000 members, in 120 chapters, in 26 states.
What is the history behind the Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito?
Assistance League® Rancho San Dieguito started as a Guild of Assistance League (AL) in 1993 with 15 members. In 1997, ALRSD became the 100th chapter to be chartered by Assistance League.
Laurene Crosby was the first president of ALRSD from 1993 to 1995. Succeeding presidents: Karen Mason, Paula Manheim, Cheryl Mallory, Anne King, Pat Mintz, Judy Luick, Kathy O’Leary, Joyce Bressler, and Lois Green. Roberta Waterman is the current president.
Charter members were: Dot Aguais, Margaret Botts, Barbara Bouzan, Laurene Crosby, Jean Davis, Lois Henderson, Bobbi Karnes, Cheryl Mallory, Ginny Misbach, Jeanne Murrill, Gloria Neiser, Ronnie Rosenwasser, Dode Schiefer, Jeanne Tatum, and Mary Waterhouse.
What is the overall mission of ALRSD?
Assistance League Rancho San Dieguito is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children and adults affected by trauma, violence, and poverty. The purpose of this organization is to administer, carry on, and control at least one program of philanthropic work in the community. We are presently administering several programs.
Which communities are served by ALRSD?
Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, and South Carlsbad.
What is your role within the organization?
My role as marketing committee chair is to promote our organization’s mission and programs. Various venues are used to communicate our message to potential volunteers and potential donors in order to generate interest in ALRSD. Marketing methods we use include press releases, ads in print media, distribution of brochures, direct mail, social media (website, Facebook), and listing upcoming events on local community calendars.
My most challenging role is keeping pace with technology that helps a nonprofit marketing committee reach its goals of finding potential volunteers, potential patrons, securing donations, and developing a loyal patron following. We are administered 100 percent by volunteers, so developing and maintaining a database, for instance, requires more dedication and effort by our members than would be the case in a for-profit organization that would pay a staff person to concentrate solely on this type of function.
At-A-Glance | Marketing Committee Chair
Name: Judy Zinger-Weiss
What programs and services does ALRSD provide the community?
Operation School Bell®
Operation School Bell is Assistance League’s signature philanthropic program.
We collaborate to provide back-to-school clothing and school supplies to children of enlisted military families.
Clothes for Children
We provide local children with new school clothes and shoes.
Sixth grade students have the opportunity to experience a week in the mountains while attending a science camp. We help school districts fund this experience for children from families facing financial difficulties.
Assault Survivor Kits®
ALRSD is the only nonprofit in our area to provide sweatpants, sweatshirts, and personal hygiene items to sexual assault survivors before they are sent home. The donations comfort survivors as well as assure them that people care.
Our Hug-a-Bear program provides children and adults with a sense of comfort as they face traumatic life events. We partner with local hospitals, fire departments, and service agencies. Since 2005, we have donated more than 9,300 plush teddy bears.
Preschool English Literacy Program
Our volunteers partner with a Head Start Program in Solana Beach to provide children with a variety of learning experiences to help them grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
Stand Up For Kids
We partner with this Oceanside program that provides a safe place for homeless and at-risk children and teens.
“On a personal level, I love belonging to ALRSD. I have made many good friends over the years and I enjoy giving back to the people in our communities.”
Our volunteers knit or crochet children’s sweaters, hats, booties, and blankets for newborn infants of military families.
Flowers for Seniors
Three times each year, our members gather donated flowers from a local community business. Our members arrange those flowers into lovely bouquets that are then delivered to various community senior centers.
The Assisteens Auxiliary of Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito was formed this past June. As an auxiliary of ALRSD, Assisteens will be involved with various ALRSD philanthropic programs. They will also identify their own programs to help our local communities. Charter members are eighth grade students from Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueno Middle School. We are proud of our charter members:
“To keep ALRSD a viable charitable organization takes hard work, competence, and cooperation from its members. And this has been going on for 20 years!”
Does ALRSD have any upcoming events or fundraisers?
Our main fundraising event is held annually in April and is called April Affair. In 2017, April Affair will take place April 8 at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. It will feature live entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction, dinner, and a no-host bar. We will be celebrating our 20th year anniversary as a chapter of Assistance League, so we are promoting our April fundraising event as a Grand April Affair and we will be celebrating roaring ‘20s style!
We will also be holding a special evening at Chico’s and Soma’s in The Forum on Feb. 8. Chico’s will donate back to ALRSD 10 percent of all sales.
Every year, in both December and June, we hold a special luncheon/chapter meeting and invite local vendors to present their merchandise. They donate a percentage of their profits back to our chapter.
At-A-Glance | Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito
President: Roberta Waterman
Facebook: Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito, Thrift Shop
Thrift Shop Address: 1542 Encinitas Blvd.
Thrift Shop Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
How many members does ALRSD currently have?
There are currently 144 members.
How can someone go about joining ALRSD?
New members are always welcome. Our Vice President of Membership, Stella Ramos, can be contacted at 760-634-1091 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The main requirement is a desire and willingness to serve people in need in our communities. Although not a requirement, we do encourage all members to dedicate time every month to staffing our thrift shop, Fabulous Finds. We are an all-volunteer nonprofit organization so all of the money from our sales fund our philanthropic programs.
When and where does ALRSD meet?
All visitors are welcome to visit our monthly meetings, where camaraderie is evident through the news sharing, recognition of members’ good works, and, if we’re fortunate, playful presentations to promote an upcoming event. Our monthly chapter meetings are held the third Wednesday of the month at Calvary Lutheran Church in Solana Beach. Our social gathering begins at 9:15 a.m. and the meeting begins at 10 a.m.
Why are organizations like ALRSD important for a community?
Nonprofit organizations like ALRSD are essential to our quality of life not only because of the valuable programs they provide local citizens but also because of the positive economic impact within local communities. Nonprofits play a vital role in society by focusing resources and providing service to community needs without regard to profit.
During their last fiscal year, ALRSD donated $120,142 to local communities through its philanthropic programs. Since 2005, almost 19,000 children were clothed through Operation School Bell. Five thousand Assault Survivor Kits have been donated. More than 9,000 plush teddy bears have been dressed and provided comfort to children and adults facing a traumatic life event. Over 800 children have been tutored. Over 5,800 knitted/crotchet items have been donated to infants of military families. Last year alone, our members donated 22,146 hours to serve local people in need.
At-A-Glance | President
Name: Roberta Waterman
Community: 41-year resident of Solana Beach
Education: Pasadena City College, Orange Coast College, UCLA, and Mira Costa Community College
Family: Four children and five grandchildren
Hobbies & Interests: Having hung up my skis, golf tops my list of hobbies, a never-ending challenge. An avid Chargers season ticket holder for 32 years tops my list of interests along with reading, cooking, and working within the ALRSD communities. After years of traveling to Europe, I realized there are so many wonders of the U.S. which I had not explored, which prompted a love of travel through the South and Southeast.
Most Memorable ALRSD Moment: Our Rancho San Dieguito area is viewed by most as an affluent area. Experiencing the numbers in our communities that are less than affluent brought a realization that there is much we can do to make life a bit more joyful and easy. Although there are some aspects of our programs that hinder us meeting the recipients of our efforts, the smiles on the faces of the children and parents, who are possibly experiencing their first opportunity to personally shop for new clothes, brings joy to our lives as well as theirs. Having a child say their new shoes will allow him or her to go to school every day and not have to wait their turn to wear the shoes is a heartbreaking statement which has an unbelievable impact and reinforcement of the opportunities we have as an organization.
How can someone sponsor or contribute to ALRSD?
- Send a tax-deductible donation to support our philanthropic programs. Tax ID: 33-0556542
- Become a corporate sponsor
- Donate gently used items to our thrift shop
- Purchase items at our thrift shop
- Attend our fundraising events
- Invite us to speak at your organization
- Sign up for email alerts about thrift shop sales
- Join us on Facebook
- Become a member of Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito
What are ALRSD’s short-term goals?
Our short-term goals include growing our membership. The planning, management, fundraising, and implementation of all of our programs is done 100 percent by volunteers.
We annually review community needs to determine whether or not to retain or revise our current programs. We also assess the needs of the communities we serve in order to identify unmet needs that could be met by our implementing new programs.
As a nonprofit, we are constantly investigating ways to increase our financial stability through fundraising and grant writing.
Another short-term goal centers on promoting our presence to the people throughout our communities by increasing participation in community events.
And what are your long-term goals as an organization?
Our current strategic plan for 2016 through 2020, has four main goals:
- Grow an informed, active, committed membership from which to develop strong leaders.
- Create and support focused programs that enrich the lives of the community.
- Fund the chapter’s philanthropic programs through the thrift shop, fundraising events, and activities.
- Strengthen our effectiveness as a resource in our communities.
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
Everyone should know that it is okay to ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” when contemplating becoming involved as a volunteer in an organization. There are multiple personal and professional benefits of volunteering.
Volunteering connects you to communities – the communities you serve as well as the community you join as a volunteer. You meet different kinds of people, make new friends, and have fun all while making a positive difference in people’s lives. The positive difference affects everyone –including yourself.