Staring up at the brand-new Girl Scouts “treehouse” while watching their grandchildren climb through the forty-foot-tall structure for the first time was a special moment for Barbara and David Groce, longtime community leaders and donors with The San Diego Foundation. At that moment, their commitment to community and philanthropy had come full circle.
At the time we got married, we had just a few thousand dollars to our name, but we always tried to help our community.
– David Groce
It all started when Barbara was a young girl. Her parents were active in the community and all her siblings were involved in scouts. At the age of seven, Barbara joined her first Girl Scouts troop and never looked back.
“Girl Scouts shaped my life from a very young age,” recalled Barbara. “Those experiences with Girl Scouts taught me numerous life lessons and I have been involved with the organization ever since.”
When Barbara and David got married, they always found a way to help the community and the organizations they cared about most.
“At the time we got married, we had just a few thousand dollars to our name, but we always tried to help our community,” explained David.
In fact, Barbara’s first charitable gift was $2 to her alma mater Whittier College. From that point on, their giving grew exponentially. The couple prioritized philanthropy at every stage of their lives, whether it was continuing to support their alma maters, or giving to the Girl Scouts and other local nonprofits in San Diego.
Building a Legacy
After David completed his post-doctoral degree in Australia, the two native Californians started to build a life together in La Jolla in 1965.
While David was starting what would become a successful career at San Diego-based SAIC, the couple continued to donate their time, talent and treasure across the region.
If there’s a need, that’s what you do–you help out.
– Barbara Groce
Barbara served as a leader with Girl Scouts and taught students at Pacific Beach Junior High, La Jolla High School, as well as the University of San Diego; David helped as a Science Olympiad coach for La Jolla High School students and taught camping and photography classes for San Diego youth; and each volunteered their time on a variety of nonprofit boards.
For more than half a century, Barbara and David have dedicated their lives to helping others in San Diego and beyond.
When asked why they give so much, Barbara replied matter-of-factly, “If there’s a need, that’s what you do–you help out.”
That’s just the type of people the Groces are. They recognize they have been blessed with many successes and want to share their good fortune with others so that the next generation has an opportunity to succeed.
“We just always preferred to see our resources go toward students and organizations making a difference rather than cars and other fancy things,” explained David.
“Easy to Give”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of their first donor-advised fund at The San Diego Foundation. The Groces appreciate that The Foundation makes it “easy to give.” In that time, their charitable giving has funded an endowed campership with Girls Scouts San Diego, created new exhibits at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and helped build endowed fellowships for students at Whittier College and the California Institute of Technology.
Their daughter EA Stewart and son-in-law Ian Stewart continue the family tradition, having opened their own donor-advised fund at The Foundation.
Working with The San Diego Foundation and other nonprofit organizations in the region, Barbara and David have quietly built a legacy of community impact that spans generations.
In many ways, watching their grandchildren play on that treehouse was the perfect summation of their philanthropic legacy.