Berger Foundation honored by Xavier College Preparatory High School

Xavier_Berger AllXavier College Preparatory High School had a rare opportunity to honor the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation at its 11th Annual Companions’ Dinner. It was a special occasion to thank the foundation for donating the initial 96 acres, on which the valley’s only Jesuit high school is built. Since the school opened in 2006, the Berger Foundation has continued to support its mission of forming compassionate leaders as Xavier has graduated 721 students to date.

Traditional with the school’s Companions’ Dinner, the evening began with a Catholic Mass led by The Most Reverend Gordon D. Bennett, S.J., D.D., of Loyola Marymount University. The evening began with a cocktail reception on the patio of the Ritz-Carlton Resort. The Xavier College Prep Chamber Quartet was the entertainment for the pre-dinner social hour. Father Howard Lincoln offered the invocation, blessing the meal and those who prepared it.

DoeDee Rover, President Emerita and Director of Marketing and Advancement for the school, gave a heartfelt speech about the Berger Foundation and its board believing in the vision and mission of the school early on. Then, she and Chris Alling, current school President, presented members of the foundation board with a large framed lithograph of St. Francis Xavier, for whom the school is named. Attending the event on behalf of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation were Ronald and Sherrie Auen, Christopher and Carol McGuire, Douglass and Gwen Vance, Catharine Reed, Francis and Mary Ann Wong and Michael Rover.

In her comments, Rover said it was important for Xavier to not only publicly recognize the Berger Foundation for all its Board of Directors has done for them, but also all the private, family foundation has done for hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley. Since 1988, the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation has contributed over $700 million to charities throughout Southern California and the United States. More than half of that has been given directly to established 501(c)3 organizations in the Coachella Valley. Many of those nonprofits attended Xavier’s event to also pay tribute to the Berger Foundation including Dr. Lisa Lindley of Coachella Valley Symphony; Stephanie Landes of Desert Christian Academy; Michael Landes of Eisenhower Medical Center; Dr. Frank Ercoli of Hanson House; Jan Lupia of HEARTBeat at 22; Matt Johnson of Old Town Artisan Studio; Bill Powers of Ophelia Project; Juan De Lara of the Salton Sea Action Committee; Ruth Moir and Susie Morales of Steinway Society; Allen Monroe and Jan Hawkins, of The Living Desert; Rick and Sherry Mesa, Ernie Ruben and Teddi Rozell, with The Ranch Recovery Center, Inc.

Each of the 200-plus guests attending the dinner received a replica of the Pectoral Cross that Pope Francis wears. Enclosed in a box and tied with a bow, the silver cross inside represents “the good Shepard” who guides his flock to the fold.

H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation grant helps expand mobile art program

old-town-artisan-studio-2A $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will purchase a van for Old Town Artisan Studio, Inc., which is the latest recipient of a Coachella Valley Spotlight award.

“This transport van will expand our Mobile Art Program and primarily help us deliver finished pottery projects to our participants all over the valley who create gorgeous works of art, and then have to wait for the process of firing the pottery, etcetera,” said Diana Marlo Noll, interim Executive Director of Old Town Artisan Studio (OTAS). “We are extremely grateful to the Berger Foundation for this gift, which will help the efficiencies of our program immensely.”

More than 8,000 people, including groups from special education classes, special needs homes, senior centers and more come to OTAS throughout each year. The hands-on experiences are therapeutic and often expose participants to something completely new.

“Old Town Artisan Studio is a place where people of all ages can experience the healing power of art,” said Victory Grund, who founded the organization with her husband Richard in 2009. The couple envisioned the concept when they realized that funding for art programs had been slashed from school budgets and many private social service agencies.

“Whether people come to Old Town Artisan Studio or instructors come to them, the organization allows people to explore their creativity, and that is a gift,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

Old Town Artisan Studio is dedicated to providing positive art experiences for all Coachella Valley residents despite age, disability or financial disadvantage. Donations to Old Town Artisan Studio allow the organization to continue offering free programming or reduced fee levels for those with financial challenges.

“Adding a van to Old Town Artisan Studio’s Mobile Art Program will allow the organization to reach even more people who love this unique community service,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Old Town Artisan Studio was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of December. For more information call 760-777-1444 or visit www.oldtownartisanstudio.org. OTAS is located at 78-134 Calle Tampico, La Quinta, but in 2017, the organization will open a new 8,000 square-foot-facility at 78-045 Calle Cadiz, La Quinta.

The Girlfriend Factor receives $25,000 for education outreach

the-girlfriend-factor_joanAs more than 200 guests – mostly girlfriends – celebrated The Girlfriend Factor’s 10th Anniversary, Catharine Reed from H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation surprised the group with a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant.
“This was an exciting month for us,” said Joan Busick, Founder and Executive Director of The Girlfriend Factor (GFF). “It feels like only yesterday GFF was an idea, and now we are celebrating ten years. Our organization has sustained and helped more than 120 valley women pursue their dreams because people and organizations, like the Berger Foundation and CBS Local 2, have believed in us.”

Busick and a few of her girlfriends started The Girlfriend Factor after realizing that many women find a need to improve their financial position and self-sustainability after missing the traditional college years. GFF raises funds and provides renewable education grants and emotional support to local motivated women, 25 years and older, so they may reach their potential and achieve their goals through higher education or occupational training.

“We believe education is the key to self-sufficiency and financial advancement for women who have had set backs in their lives,” said Busick.

In January 2017, the organization will increase its grants from $2,000 to $3,000 per person, per year. With GFF gaining more and more financial support to fund these educational grants, the organization plans to use the Coachella Valley Spotlight funding to implement a public awareness campaign about the importance of education and the assistance available.

“Sometimes all people need to pursue their goals is to know they are supported. GFF does that in a number of ways, and by raising awareness of this organization, hopefully more women will be inspired to improve their financial position,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, who revealed that girlfriends provided her with positive encouragement when she returned to school for a career change.

“GFF is a great example of a grassroots organization in our valley that has grown into something making a very positive impact on people’s lives and our way of life in the Coachella Valley,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2. “We are happy to support them as the 94th recipient of the Coachella Valley Spotlight.”

Along with the grant, The Girlfriend Factor was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of November. For more information call 760-772-9594 or visit www.thegirlfriendfactor.org.

Grant provides nourishment to ‘food deserts’ in Eastern Coachella Valley

catholic-charitiesPeople living in some of the most impoverished parts of the Coachella Valley will feel additional relief now that a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight was awarded to Catholic Charities San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. The grant, presented by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, will increase the amount of fresh, healthy food available to people with immediate needs living in Mecca, North Shore, and in isolated, difficult to reach trailer park communities in the Coachella Valley.

“We are grateful to the Berger Foundation and to the CBS Local 2 Advisory Board for recognizing this very real need in the Eastern Coachella Valley,” said Ken F. Sawa CEO and Executive Vice President of Catholic Charities San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. “The grant will be used to maintain and expand this highly cost-effective and much needed program for the hardworking, poor, isolated families in this part of our service area.”

Catholic Charities’ Eastern Coachella Valley food distribution program provides healthy food including fresh produce, eggs, packaged meals, and other perishable and nonperishable items to some of the poorest communities in the valley. These communities are considered food deserts because there are very few grocery stores selling fresh foods in these areas. And while Catholic Charities’ food distribution program aids people with the immediate need of nourishment, the family and community services programs help members of eastern valley communities move toward new opportunities and futures.

“This program provides families and individuals in desperate situations with healthy foods, which allows them to spend part of their limited budgets on other necessities such as rent and utilities,” said Christopher McGuire, Vice President of Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “Catholic Charities’ mission aligns with our Foundation’s mission – to help people help themselves. We are happy to support this hand up to help people escape poverty.”

Catholic Charities’ Eastern Coachella Valley food distribution program has been operating for more than 10 years and serves about 600 families each week. Annually, this program helps more than 3,000 unduplicated households and 14,000 unduplicated individuals. The program consists primarily of community volunteers who are mission driven to fight poverty and its consequences. Each week about 40-50 volunteers sort, pack and distribute food to their neighbors in need.

“The volunteers in the Catholic Charities program care about the people they serve, and are dedicated, not only to help people with their immediate needs, but also to help them see beyond their current situations,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Catholic Charities was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of October. For more information call 760-342-0341 or visit www.ccsbriv.org.

Coachella Valley Girls to benefit from Berger Foundation grant

girl-scouts-sgcA $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant will make it easier for youth to join Girl Scouts in the Coachella Valley. The grant, presented to Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, will open the doors of Girl Scouting to more girls, ages 5-17, by paying for program fees, books and supplies, uniform items, transportation and other expenses.

“We believe that every girl who wants to be a Girl Scout should have that opportunity, regardless of their ability to pay for supplies, transportation, field trips and other activities,” said Cynthia Breunig, President and CEO of GSSGC. “The grant from the Berger Foundation will also help us grow our award-winning Classroom to Career program in the low valley region, and expand opportunities for girls to participate in confidence-building activities and workforce readiness training.”

Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio serves a 27,000 square mile territory encompassing all of Riverside County and most of San Bernardino County. With more than 12,000 girls and 4,000 volunteers in GSSGC, nearly 2,000 girls participate in the Coachella Valley, and 645 adult valley volunteers lead troops and mentor young women to be future leaders. Thousands more are affected by Girl Scouts through the Council’s service projects, which aim to improve the communities in which the girls live.

“Girl Scouts helps girls find themselves as individuals, learn life skills, problem solve, and work in teams,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “It’s wonderful that the local Girl Scout Council is looking for ways to ensure that all girls who want to participate, can, regardless of family income. We are happy to help encourage this involvement as well.”

Today’s Girl Scouts focus on G.I.R.L. – Go-getter, Innovator, Risk taker and Leader. Beyond many of the activities Girl Scouts are known for around the world, including Girl Scout camps and outdoor programming, plus the annual Cookie Program, which aims to empower girls through “learning by earning,” GSSGC also provides life-changing opportunities to visit new places and be exposed to possible vocations through its Classroom to Career college and career readiness program.

“The Classroom to Career program helps retain and attract older Girl Scout participants and offers them opportunities to explore professions that they may not consider otherwise,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of September. For more information call 760-779-5152 or visit www.gssgc.org.

Mama’s House receives grant to help pregnant women in crisis

mamas-houseMama’s House was awarded a $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation to help pregnant women in crisis situations. The Coachella Valley Spotlight grant will be used for professional counseling, tutoring, and educational material for women in the Mama’s House program.
“Mama’s House provides shelter for women in crisis who want to carry their baby to term, whether they plan to raise their child or seek adoption options,” said Jan Lupia, Founder and Director of Mama’s House, which is operated by the nonprofit organization HEARTbeat At 22. “Our program does not stop with simply providing these women a place to live while they are pregnant. We also aim to give our residents skills to be successful on their own after the baby is born.”
Mama’s House typically assists between 15-20 women each year, most of whom are leaving negative, stressful, even dangerous situations and want to improve their lives. The staff and volunteers at Mama’s House help their residents, 18 and older, with educational goals, job training and job searching, plus basic life skills and exposure to arts, crafts and music. While at Mama’s House, every resident is required to work toward a GED certificate, if they have not already earned a high school diploma.
“Jan and everyone at Mama’s House really take care of these women. They not only help them during their stay at Mama’s House but also make sure they are ready to live a new life on their own,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
Mama’s House was established in 2013, and since then more than 50 women and their babies have been helped by the Mama’s House program. Mama’s House operates through the generosity of others including individuals and foundations that support the organization financially and others who volunteer their time. The Mama’s House ladies guild known as the Mama Mia’s organizes volunteers for tutoring, parenting support groups, cooking classes, arts and crafts workshops and more.
“This is yet another time when we are able to feature a unique nonprofit benefiting people in our area,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2. “No other organization in the valley helps women in crisis pregnancies like Mama’s House does.”
Along with the grant, Mama’s House was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of August. For more information call 760-848-8185 or visit www.themamashouse.org.

S.C.R.A.P. Gallery receives grant to create “Kids Green Teams”

SCRAP GallerySmall groups of elementary and high school students are expected to tackle big environmental issues next school year, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. The Student Creative Recycle Art Program (S.C.R.A.P.) Gallery plans to use the Coachella Valley Spotlight grant to develop “Kids Green Teams” at local schools, libraries and other community organizations throughout valley.

These student teams will develop a project focus for the school year, such as establishing a campus recycling program, auditing water use and waste, or creating a nature area. The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery staff and volunteers will help each team develop goals, a timeline, and a plan to accomplish the project. Additional aspects of each school’s project may include inspiring other students to get involved, fundraising to support their project or making community presentations about their progress.

“Our hope is to truly inspire tomorrow’s leaders with these ‘Green Team’ projects,” said Karen Riley, Founder and Executive Director of the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery. “By educating students about environmental issues, and then putting the creation of solutions in their hands, we are empowering them to be a force for change.”

Founded in 1997, the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery is a unique environmental art museum and engaging mobile program that delivers art and environmental education to children throughout the Coachella Valley. By using donated discarded materials, students of all ages learn about conservation, reuse and other environmental issues through hands-on exploration. Since its inception, more than 75,000 pounds of trash have been diverted from the landfill through the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery’s programs.

“The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery’s programs actively engage young people to be stewards of their environment, helping to improve our valley’s communities for all generations,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

“The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery gives the kids the tools, but the ideas and creations they have are their own. They are innovative, and it’s inspiring to see,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

Along with the grant, the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of July. To learn more about the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery call 760-861-6479 or go to www.scrapgallery.org.

Friends of the Desert Libraries, Thousand Palms Chapter receives grant

friends-of-libraryFor it’s 10th Anniversary, the Art Samson Community Library received a very special gift – a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Friends of the Desert Libraries, Thousand Palms Chapter was the latest recipient of the grant awarded each month through a partnership between the Foundation and CBS Local 2.

“This is a very special day for the library,” said Patricia Bergman, treasurer of Friends of the Desert Libraries, Thousand Palms Chapter. Bergman also wrote the application, along with the library’s branch manager, which earned the attention of the CBS Local 2 Community Advisory Board, which selects each recipient. “The grant from the Berger Foundation and the media coverage fro CBS Local 2 are much appreciated gifts to our library and our community.”
The “Friends” group submits grants and seeks large donations as much as possible, but more commonly relies on membership dues, small gifts, used book sales and other community fundraisers. Riverside County also supports the library, which began with the vision of former Thousand Palms resident Art Samson.
“Art passed before the library was a reality,” said Roxanna Garcia, library branch manager. “I think he would be so happy with the facility it is today, and that members of the community continue his passion by raising money for the library and awareness about the importance of reading and lifelong learning.”
Grant funds will be used to purchase technology that library officials say is desperately needed. Items including laptops, tablets, headphones, a television, DVD player and a projector will help the library stay current with the educational offerings of the 21st century. The gift will also allow the library to present more community programs to the people it serves, from infants to the elderly.
“It is evident that the Thousand Palms community loves and cares for its library, maintaining a beautiful facility and working to ensure that is offers the same types of programs larger libraries in the valley do,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “We are happy to have a hand in that effort.”
“It’s great to see the Art Samson Community Library diversify and use this grant to increase available technology and add valuable community programs,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.
Along with the grant, the Friends of the Desert Libraries, Thousand Palms Chapter was featured on CBS Local 2’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on the www.cbslocal2.com website throughout the month of June. The Art Samson Community Library is located at 31189 Robert Road, Thousand Palms. For more information call 760-343-1556 or visit www.rivlib.info