For many individuals, philanthropy, community and faith play an overlapping role in everyday life.
Giving is a way to practice what we preach in living out our faith.
For philanthropist Shauna Schneider, M.D. (retired after 25 years of dermatology practice in Poway), who makes a point to help San Diego flourish, the very core of her Christian faith is to love and serve others.
“My husband and I share a belief that everything we have is a gift we’ve been blessed with to steward or use in creative ways to give back to the world,” shared Shauna. “That sense of giving has deep roots in our faith, as well as in the way we grew up.”
When hearing Shauna talk about her childhood and background, it’s easy to see how her early experiences with community and her commitment to her faith shape her giving.
“I was involved in my church and in Campfire Girls at a young age, and from those experiences and activities with my peers, I gained a sense of belonging in the community and learned what it means to give back,” recalled Shauna. “I still remember planting trees in the community and feeling that sense of joy because we were doing something to give back.”
To see the beauty through their eyes and develop those relationships with underserved youth was an extremely formative event for me
Then, years later as a teenager her perspective evolved as Shauna gained a deeper connection with service and the impact it can have on our world. As an outdoor camp counselor for inner-city youth in the Stockton area, helping others took on a much more personal and significant meaning.
Shauna described those memories, stating, “The children I had the opportunity to work with had never been afforded the opportunity to explore nature, so it was a joy to guide them through that first experience. To see the beauty through their eyes and develop those relationships with underserved youth was an extremely formative event for me.”
Today, those early experiences with underserved youth shape the way she practices her faith.
Shauna and her husband, Phil Schneider, challenge their friends and fellow philanthropists to be more intentional about recognizing poverty and other challenges that exist in the region. As she explained, “San Diego is a wonderful place to live but there are still problems and strife around us, which we should all strive to learn more about and help where possible.”
The couple believes strongly in the importance of philanthropy as both an activity and a life value.
As co-founder and ministry director for Flourish San Diego, Shauna is deeply aware of a change in the role church and faith play for many people. As cultures have shifted, she recognizes that many institutions have become less and less outwardly facing in their city. She yearns to help religious leaders and people of faith turn their focus back to their community and the challenges that exist in the region.
“I believe the core of our faith is to love one another,” commented Shauna. “While membership is important to generate impact, churches should also be leaving a positive impact outside of the church. We believe that when leaders focus on loving the community first, the institutional capacity will follow.”
Shauna and Phil live out that message of love and support through their intentional philanthropy.
In addition to Flourish San Diego, the two give back to a variety of programs that provide opportunities for underserved youth and families to thrive – such as the YMCA of San Diego County, Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church, Poway Center for Performing Arts and Palomar Health Foundation.
“I believe philanthropy is very relational,” explained Shauna. “We always want to help individuals achieve their potential or provide more opportunities for people to succeed. When philanthropy becomes greater than ourselves and purely for the benefit of seeing others thrive, we begin to see the kind of flourishing that our city desperately needs.”
Join Shauna in making a difference in the region and the lives of San Diegans by opening a fund at The San Diego Foundation.