In 2017, we watched as residents in Houston, Puerto Rico and across California regions experience great tragedy and loss as a result of natural disasters.

For many of us, these stories are all too familiar. Just like San Diego during the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, entire communities have been upended and need support.

Fortunately, these are the moments when we as a society show our true colors. Whether disaster strikes at home or elsewhere, philanthropists continue to step up and help those most in need.

Donors of The San Diego Foundation granted more than $700,000 to communities around the world that have been impacted by earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires in 2017.

This is in addition to many other community foundations and donors doing the same to help their fellow man, woman and child.

Helping Families Recover

San Diegans know firsthand the direct and indirect effects of disaster.

During the aftermath of the 2007 wildfires, as thousands of homes were destroyed, many families were forced to use up their hard-earned savings to rebuild. In some instances, this meant tapping into the scholarship savings for their children.

Esther Hess and her family were one of those families. In 2007, Esther’s family lost their underinsured home to the Witch Creek fire which also caused significant damage to their family business.

Gwen Stefani After-the-Fires Scholarship Fund

In May 2008, Esther Hess received a scholarship from the Gwen Stefani After-the-Fires Scholarship Fund.

At the time, Esther was a senior at Rancho Bernardo High School making her future college plans. With two other siblings also in college, Esther and her family worried about how she would attain her dreams of higher education amidst the tragedy of their losses.

Simultaneously, world-famous musician Gwen Stefani decided to move forward as planned with a concert in Chula Vista scheduled for October 30, 2007 – as some fires were still burning throughout San Diego County. Working with The San Diego Foundation, Gwen donated all the proceeds from the concert to establish a scholarship fund for fire survivors.

In May 2008, Esther proudly received a scholarship from the Gwen Stefani After-the-Fires Scholarship Fund delivered personally by Gwen, and went on to get her degree in graphic design from California State University, Fullerton.

Today, she works as a Creative Manager to pursue her career aspirations and passion for graphic design.

As Esther puts it, “I can truly say that without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be where I am now. The scholarship helped alleviate the financial burden my family was dealing with after the fire, and enabled me to have a college education which at the time no longer seemed financially possible. I was amazed at how the community came together after the fire.”

Supporting Others

San Diegans understand how important philanthropy is during the rebuilding and recovery process.

The San Diego Regional Disaster Fund at The San Diego Foundation is a service to our community to provide an opportunity for anyone to give, and to extend needed support to survivors through nonprofit organizations making the most impact.

Consider a gift to the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund to help families unexpectedly impacted by natural disasters with clothes, food, housing and more.

Support the Regional Disaster Fund