“I’ll always remember a girl at my grade school who only had one dress. That just blew my mind. My family was in the retail business so I had a wonderful wardrobe and she had just one dress. I have never forgotten that and I never will,” says Julia Grant.
Ms. Grant did not come from a family of philanthropists, so she developed on her own the awareness that others were not always as fortunate as she. Moving to Sonoma County in 1990 and loving the area for its beauty, reminiscent of the Shenandoah Valley where she grew up, she discovered our local, friendly people and the many organizations that help the less fortunate. She now lives with a continuous and growing sense of gratitude for all she has, and within that, for all that she can do for others. Julia feels that she can give intelligently and very effectively through her partnership formed with her financial advisor and Community Foundation Sonoma County.
Guided early on and to this day by her planner and the staff at the Community Foundation, Grant continues to expand her generosity. Recently, following conversations that led to an understanding of the most dire and immediate needs of many people in Sonoma County, Julia made possible a huge increase in meeting basic needs through a $4 million endowment. This new fund, called the Julia L. Grant Fund for Basic Human Needs, supports Sonoma County non-profits whose missions are to provide services to populations in acute need. Low-income people in crisis can receive funds for shelter, food, medical help and other basic needs so that they are not forced to choose between paying rent and buying food or having gas to get to work. These basic human needs grants provide straightforward, real-time assistance that may prevent people from losing a job, falling into homelessness, or facing another day without food.
Prior to Julia Grant’s generous gift, only 25% of these crisis requests could be met. Now, many more will be helped. Her confidence as a donor has increased over time through her close relationship with and informed work of the Foundation staff. She enjoys site visits to organizations and appreciates the knowledge bank the Foundation holds. “The Community Foundation serves as a bridge to simplify my giving. I’m thrilled and comforted to know my giving helps now and will continue after my lifetime through their planned giving program.
“As a donor, the Foundation is a lifesaver. It simplifies my life. Each staff member is on top of what is going on with all local organizations. They even advise me on the health of the organizations so that I can know my ‘investment’ in them will pay off.”
Another link in the chain of giving, according to Julia, is the importance of local media as a source of information. She explains, “My list of organizations started growing as I learned about them through the Press Democrat. The power of the press is so important to creating a sense of understanding about the needs of our community.”
Julia continues with a smile, “When I heard about the Basic Human Needs funds I knew immediately this was the right thing to do. Giving in my lifetime allows me to see the results and satisfaction of knowing it will continue when I’m gone. I am just thrilled there are organizations I can give to because I appreciate their work – it gives me great joy.”