Generosity in Action

2022 Was About Community Wins, not Us vs. Them

Photo: sunset at Shark Fin Cove in Davenport. Photo by Jan Arendtsz.

As the sun sets on 2022, we reflect on all that we have accomplished together. This guest commentary was originally published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on December 27, 2022.

What will we choose to remember about 2022 in Santa Cruz County? For me, it’s not the campaign signs we saw on every corner, the heated ballot measures, or the reminders of how we bitterly disagree about how to work towards a better future. Amid our turbulent year, it might have been easy to miss some of the remarkable ways this community came together—across differences—to make real progress on critical issues. As we welcome a new year, it’s worth reflecting on what’s possible when we work together for good.

As the CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, I have a window into the joy and fulfillment that comes with contributing to community solutions. What a privilege it is to help people with a vision of a better future to find ready allies in work too big to solve alone. I marvel at the many ways people from all walks of life acted on shared values and got things done.

Santa Cruz County is a place that’s shown it can rally resources and momentum on big ideas, creating the conditions for projects to help neighbors get housed, healthy, and cared for. Veteran’s Village provides permanent supportive housing for veterans in the San Lorenzo Valley. Housing Matters’ renovation of 801 River Street is creating a safe place for people exiting shelters to live. People recovering from addiction will be treated with dignity, expertise, and care at the new Si Se Puede Behavioral Health Center, breaking ground in Watsonville next year. And Watsonville Community Hospital is a powerful sign of our community’s will to ensure healthcare access for all—regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. Together, with donations large and small, leadership from officials, and the state’s help, we purchased the hospital and returned it to public ownership after over 20 years.

In Live Oak, the Dientes and Santa Cruz Community Health Center clinics are open and ramping up to provide affordable, responsive, and respectful health and dental care for 10,000 patients every year. In Watsonville, Starlight Elementary’s new Culinary Garden and Teaching Kitchen is bringing students from the entire Pajaro Valley into a beautiful new outdoor classroom and kitchen. As students study rainfall patterns, soil science, and food systems, they will gain foundations in data science, sustainable agriculture, biotechnology, and nutrition.

There are also signs of cultural renewal now that the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band has purchased a home on 1.5 acres of land in Bonny Doon—the first the tribe has been able to call their own for over 220 years. Thanks to the hard work and vision of tribal leaders and the incredible generosity of donors, the tribe raised enough money in a week to purchase the piece of property that is bringing people back to the ancestral Awaswas lands tribal members care for, hold sacred ceremonies, house their Native Stewardship Corps, and build cultural identity across generations.

There are also daily signs of our community’s generosity. Thousands of volunteers working in service to our community—keeping our beaches clean, building trails, teaching people to read, creating art, driving seniors to appointments, delivering meals to the homebound, mentoring and advocating for youth and young adults with disabilities, and caring for animals as they await new homes.

The Community Foundation is honored to be part of our county’s good work as we celebrate 2022’s record-breaking $40 million in grants and scholarships. And we are grateful to be a trusted partner to people interested in improving the lives of others and strengthening this special place. Anybody interested in doing good has a place at our table.

Whatever it is that you did to come together across differences and work towards solutions, we say thank you. It’s Santa Cruz County’s commitment to contributing to a greater good that I’ll remember about 2022. And it is what leaves me hopeful about the year to come.

Written by

Susan True

Susan is the CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County.