By the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation

The Santa Ynez Valley is known for many things, including world-class wineries, excellence in agriculture, hospitality to visitors from all over the world, and thriving local businesses. But valley residents may be unparalleled in their altruistic mindset and compassionate support for this special place we call home.

Many of us give back because we feel compelled to do good, and often we give without even realizing it. Buying Girl Scout cookies or contributing to a school bake sale, coaching Little League or bringing extra cheer and joy to residents while visiting a parent at a senior center — they are all ways of giving back to the community. Even a positive attitude toward folks waiting in line at the market or a friendly smile to a stranger on the street are ways of giving back. Sometimes the smallest gestures make the biggest impact.

Giving back frequently takes the form of volunteerism. There are those of us who grew up with volunteerism as a family motto or way of life. Today, it feels as if we were born to give our time to areas of the nonprofit sector where they are best served, providing countless hours at the local library, hospital or foodbank.

In many ways, volunteers are the lifeblood of an organization, offering vital resources and completing projects that would otherwise go unfinished. Especially for small organizations, volunteers become important collaborators in the management of the organization’s workload. They become part of the fabric of the institution, building lifelong relationships with staff and clients alike.

Our passions drive us, making our giving very personal. Witnessing the compassionate care given to a family member at the end of life, for example, may spark support for hospice organizations. Seeing the difference that art education made in the life of a child might encourage gifts to the local elementary school or a nonprofit organization providing afterschool art and music programs. A love of animals might determine the number of hours spent every week helping at the animal shelter.

The Santa Ynez Valley Foundation is a great starting point for those people wishing to support local organizations but wondering how to begin on the path to philanthropy. The guesswork is taken out of giving because the foundation makes sure that those in need throughout the Santa Ynez Valley are getting critical care and support. As the community’s foundation, the organization provides funds where they are most needed, responding quickly so that children receive educational programs and scholarships; families have access to food, shelter, and health care services; seniors feel supported; and the arts remain a vibrant part of the community.

“As they say, ‘A rising tide carries all boats,’” said Valley Foundation Executive Director Anne Christensen. “At the foundation, we work to provide support where it is most needed, so that all members of our community can move forward together. In this way, we are securing a positive future for us all.”

Just last year, the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation provided more than $200,000 to deserving nonprofits and more than $70,000 in scholarships to students. Through this important work, the foundation is changing lives for the better.

“It starts with a conversation,” Christensen said, “and from there, anything is possible. At the Valley Foundation, your vision for tomorrow can become a reality. Partnering with our organization can bring real impact and positive community change.”

To learn more about supporting the work of the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation, visit or call Christensen at 805-688-2991.