The Berkeley Community Fund (BCF)’s annual dinner Nov. 4 will celebrate more than a decade of providing financial support for the kind of social and community programs for which the city is so well known.
Completing their most successful funding cycle ever, BCF organizers will recognize funding recipients and honor community leaders and organizations who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the city.
This year’s Berkeley Community Award recipients include Kent Nagano, the director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, who will be getting the prestigious Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal; Schuyler Bailey, vice president of Union Bank’s Berkeley branch; and Shirley Richardson, director of the South Berkeley YMCA. The Rosa Parks Collaborative and the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center will each be given the organizational Berkeley Community awards.
Thirteen organizations are receiving grants with a combined total of over $60,000 and $20,00 will go in scholarships to students from Berkeley High and Vista Community College.
According to Eugenia Bowman, the Fund’s executive director, the fund has always tried to live up to its core value, “engaging philanthropy to make social change and improve the quality of life for the community.” All of this year’s award and grant recipients, she says, do exactly that.
Nagano is being recognized not only for his commitment to the Berkeley symphony, which Bowman said has helped put it on an “international musical map,” but also for his commitment to local Berkeley school music programs.
“This man is a world renowned conductor. He is in Berlin one day and Paris the next but he continues to return to Berkeley,” Bowman said. “He has a long-standing and enduring commitment to Berkeley.”
Berkeley Community Award recipient Shirley Richardson is being singled out for helping transform what was becoming a dilapidated YMCA center into a flourishing educational haven for neighborhood youth. Richardson says she was awed on learning she would be honored by the BCF, which she says has been a big part in helping the center re-tool its programs to become an effective community resource.
“I think the world of the Berkeley Community Fund and it is a great honor to receive the award,” she said. “The Fund is very responsible and socially conscious and it shows that they really try to honor people who are doing similar things.”
Bowman says the fund chose to honor Richardson for her “lifelong and inspirational” commitment to Berkeley.
Schuyler Bailey, who is retiring after 38 years with Union Bank, has been deeply involved with the Berkeley Public Education Foundation, the Berkeley Albany YMCA, the Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay, the Rotary Club of Berkeley, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Breakfast Club. He’s also a founding board member of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.
Bowman said the organizations receiving Berkeley Community awards were singled out for coming up with creative and effective solutions to persistent problems in the community.
She described the Rosa Park Collaborative as an institution that just might represent the wave of the future, creating well thought-out multidisciplinary programs to address the educational, health and social needs of community youth to insure their success in life, while addressing the needs of their families—helping them to “thrive economically and socially in an environment of mutual respect.”
The other organizational honoree, the Woman’s Daytime Drop-In Center, has, since its opening in 1988, served as a refuge for homeless women and children, providing support, food and access to community resources in an effort to help them overcome homelessness and regain self-sufficiency.
Bowman said the center was chosen because of their effectiveness at helping women and children get back on their feet.
The center is a perfect example of how the BCF has chosen to tackle issues that fall outside what other funders might define as community enrichment, she said.
“We’re not just funneling philanthropy to nice ideas. We’re here to serve critical needs. We are concerned about the arts, but we are more concerned about the people who never get access to the arts.”
Linda Lazzareschi, executive director of the Drop-In Center, said the organization was honored to be acknowledged by the BCF, whose finds have been crucial in helping them improve training for volunteers and the providing long-term comprehensive client services.
“We would not be here if it were not for the efforts of our volunteers and financial support from the BCF,” she said.
Ultimately, Bowman said, BCF “isn’t about the money. It’s about the community. We don’t just do philanthropy; we do community.”
The event is open to the public. Tickets are $45 and include dinner and wine, and “every cent will go toward the grants,” she said. “People can make a huge contribution by coming and the tickets are cheap,” she said. “Every dollar counts and every gift is honored.”
For more information and tickets, contact the BCF at 525-5272. A reception and no-host cocktails will start at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7p.m. at H’s Lordships, 199 Seawall Drive, in the Berkeley Marina. All donations to the BCF are tax-deductible.