The Borina sisters June and Mary Ann (left) and their father Nick Borina (far right) and others outside their Pajaro Valley packing shed, circa 1930

Borina Family’s Generosity Blooms Perennially

The Borina family name might have ended with June Borina Schnacke’s death in 2000. But the legacy her family left remains as rich today as the Pajaro Valley fields where they made their livelihood.

The Borina legacy supports causes like education, historic preservation, youth, the elderly, and hospice care. And it continues to grow. Already in 2019, nonprofits have received $730,000 from the earnings on the nearly $30 million entrusted by the Borina Foundation to the Community Foundation. Like the orchards they tended, the Borina endowment funds will bear fruit each year. The yield is an impressive gift to the community and one that came from humble beginnings.

June’s father, Nick Borina, landed in Watsonville in 1908 with 50 cents in his pocket and a resolute belief in his ability to make a better life than the one he knew in Croatia. What followed is a tale of an immigrant’s success: A tenacious work ethic. A growing family business. Education opening doors for the next generation. And, with time, charitable contributions toward the public good.

While developing a thriving apple growing, packing, and shipping business, Nick and his wife Lucy had two daughters, June and Mary Ann. Both earned degrees from Stanford. Mary Ann saw career success managing the family’s agricultural businesses. June went into law and in 1947, at age 27, became Santa Cruz County’s, and the state of California’s, first female district attorney. Both sisters left this world without descendants, leaving an extraordinary inheritance to benefit their beloved Pajaro Valley, forever.

Honoring the Spirit and Legacy of the Borina Family

June’s estate plan and will created the Borina Foundation, with the late Attorney, Bill Locke-Paddon and goddaughter Sheila Burke serving as co-directors. Later, Rob Allen joined as a director. Starting in 2003, grants totaling in the millions were made in memory of June and her family, consistent with their charitable interests. Following Bill’s passing in 2014, in accordance with June’s estate plan, charitable assets began to transfer to the Community Foundation where they could be stewarded in perpetuity for community benefit.

Benefiting Generations to Come

The Community Foundation is designed to honor the charitable interests of people like the Borinas. This spring, as we heard from our nonprofit partners about their dreams and plans for the future, we found plenty that we think meet June and her family’s hope for their legacy. Here’s a few highlights:

  • Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance- $20,000 to build a new home to meet growing demand for youth and family health education, counseling and prevention services.
  • Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services- $35,000 to improve the quality of life for children with cancer and support their families in the challenges they face.
  • Pajaro Valley Historical Association- $50,000 to restore and improve the historic Bockius-Orr House and gardens and upgrade the Borina historical archives.
  • Community Bridges- $30,000 to support seniors’ access to nutrition and care, and community connections through Meals on Wheels and ElderDay.

Through hard work and good management, the Borina Family created wealth to benefit the Pajaro Valley well beyond their lifetimes. The Foundation will carry on the Borina legacy, sowing seeds of success, season after season.

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