On a crisp morning in Balboa Park, laughter and smiling faces fill the air as San Diego Foundation employees gather for our spring Volunteer Day event. It is a perfect opportunity to celebrate Earth Day, bond with colleagues and connect with nature by rolling up our sleeves to plant 15 trees in our beloved city.

Twice a year, employees with San Diego Foundation (SDF), including the San Diego Women’s Foundation and the San Diego Housing Fund, and the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center come together for a fulfilling Volunteer Day with a local nonprofit partners. This event’s partner was  Forever Balboa Park.

April is Earth Month, a time to honor the achievements of the environmental movement and raise awareness about the importance of preserving the Earth’s natural resources for future generations. And this spring’s Volunteer Day event is a great match, thanks to the many environmental benefits of trees, including producing cleaner air, providing shade and preventing flooding and erosion.

Strengthening Balboa Park’s Urban Forest

The team’s faces light up with broad smiles as we plant 15 Norfolk Pine trees in the scenic landscape of Balboa Park. This is no surprise, given that trees also  enhance the overall health and well-being of those planting trees and for the people viewing them.

Forever Balboa Park group with Mark and SDF staff

“We want to make San Diego the most beautiful place that it can be. Forever Balboa Park is an amazing nonprofit organization that has been the guardian of this area,” says Theresa Nakata, SDF Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer.

The three-hour service event begins with the team observing a tree demonstration led by Forever Balboa Park’s leadership and volunteer tree stewards, who prioritize safety by providing guidance on the proper techniques for digging, lifting and handling live trees at every stage.

After the demonstration, our teams quickly split up into groups to start working with an assigned tree steward to help oversee and guide everyone throughout the tree-planting process. During our time together, each group enjoys some light-hearted moments by giving each tree a name while planting, such as “Tree-yonce,” “Tree-na Turner,” and “Pink Panthers,” among others.

Tree Plotter Map

After planting and securing the 15 trees, Forever Balboa Park’s volunteer tree stewards carefully document the location of each tree into the TreePlotter dataset. These dedicated tree stewards play an important role in ensuring ongoing care of the newly planted trees and happily invite our employees to visit and check on the trees at any time.

View the location of the 15 Norfolk Pine trees we planted in Balboa Park.

Volunteering together is always an excellent way to get our team together outside the office and reconnect with one another.

Importance of Volunteering

At SDF, we are dedicated to inspiring long-lasting philanthropy and enabling community solutions to enhance the quality of life in our region. SDF recognizes the importance of investing time and effort in community service.

“We are so grateful to be out here with Forever Balboa Park. To be in the fresh air, to be outside and to help restore the natural environment is so valuable,” said Heather Rossetti, SDF Senior Manager of Outdoor Access Initiatives.

Krystina Cruz and Gerardo Jaimes Garcia help plant trees

As San Diegans, we are fortunate to have access to breathtaking landscapes from its ocean to the mountains and deserts – our region’s beauty is unmatched. It enhances our quality of life and drives our local economy, making San Diego one of the most desirable places to live. Yet not everyone has equal access to these outdoor wonders.

Through our Environmental Initiatives, we partner with local nonprofits like Forever Balboa Park to preserve and protect our resources, build a more sustainable path of economic growth and ensure a higher quality of life for those who call San Diego home.

Volunteer days at SDF also align with our Strategic Plan to build more just, equitable and resilient communities.

A Thriving Work Culture

SDF has been recognized as a San Diego Union-Tribune Top Workplace for four consecutive years. It is no secret that SDF has an incredible team and values the importance of sustaining a thriving work culture.

“We are creating a culture where we work together, alongside together…our heart is within our mission and so people are aligned with that, they see that, and they feel that,” said Danny Kim, SDF Senior Director of People, Culture & Diversity. “We hear a lot of laughter, we see a lot of fun, kind of break up the day-to-day routine and give our team the opportunity to be able to connect in this meaningful way.”

Forever Balboa Park volunteer group

SDF team members also have the opportunity to demonstrate the organization’s values through direct service during volunteer days, which are held twice each year

Are you interested in joining a team passionate about philanthropy and improving the quality of life in our region? Check out our open positions and learn more about working at San Diego Foundation.