Transition House

There is something special about nonprofit galas: the glitz, the big names, and the buzz of fellowship in the air. But how special would it feel if the gala didn’t exist at all? What if all of a nonprofit’s funds were directed to the people who need it most? Transition House explores the no-ball fundraiser concept with Help-a-Kid No-Ball. Transition House in Santa Barbara provides housing and services for families facing housing insecurity. Heather Stevenson, Grants Manager at Transition House, has seen hardworking families lose everything. “In Santa Barbara, the cost of living is so high that people without a safety net or family support can lose everything when an unexpected crisis occurs,” she said.  “A job loss or a medical emergency might be all that stands between a family that is already poor and homelessness.” She recalls a family that arrived to transition house several years ago. The father, a roofer, was unable to earn pay during one rainy winter month. Though he had part of his rent payment for the next month, he lacked $430. The family lost their apartment as well as all of their possessions. Transition House was there to help. The non-profit offers emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, as well as homelessness prevention services to promote long term stability. Each family obtains the essentials such as three meals each day, clothing and reliable shelter. Case managers and a career development specialist work together with heads of household to improve money management skills, education, and employment preparation. Since the organization exclusively serves families with children, about 60 percent of its residents are under the age of 18. When children enter Transition House, they are able to participate in uplifting programs and interventions that may provide the care and stability...

Supporting Families

When Yardi employee Isabella Mitchell read our original story on Yardi Vasti Vikas Prakalp (YVVP), she pondered ways to get involved with health and sanitation efforts in impoverished in Pune, India. Months later, she and her daughter received the opportunity of a lifetime. Isabella’s daughter, Angelina Mitchell, is a registered EMT and pre-med major at Binghamton University.  Angelina wanted to volunteer abroad and felt called to support Vasti Vikas Prakalp as well. When her mother received a work assignment in Pune, Angelina asked to join her on the trip. While Isabella worked, Bharati Kotwal, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Yardi in Pune, helped Angelina find ways to get involved. The college student toured several clinics and hospitals with doctors via YVVP. The doctors serve at special sites that offer care free of charge. Angelina focused on programs that assist women and children. “Dr. Genesh showed me one of the mobile clinics that bring the services to the women and children who are not able to travel. These clinics have a doctor on staff that does free check ups and provides the women of Pune with the appropriate contraceptives. This clinic sees about 50 patients a day, 21 days out of every month,” said Angelina. At District Hospital, Dr. Ashwin leads a unique two-week program to prevent and treat malnourishment. Mothers are educated on proper nutrition for their children. Their malnourished children are simultaneously treated with a soft mixture of natural foods to restore health. The mothers receive a small stipend to offset their time in the program away from their families and work. Poor nutrition and early, frequent motherhood contributes to low iron level in local young women. Angelina learned that a lack of footwear exacerbates malnutrition and anemia. Hookworm infects already vulnerable...

Austin Cap 10K

When it comes to celebrating the importance of parks, there is no better place to gather than a local park on a balmy spring day. Ideal weather helped to make Vic Mathias Shores Park the perfect backdrop for the 2017 Austin Cap 10K, a benefit race for local nonprofits. The Austin Cap 10K race winds 6.2 miles through the city and is accompanied by a two-day health and fitness expo. Participants are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero or sport t-shirts from their favorite business or organization. Several Yardi Austin team members participated in the race including Dan Woodhead, Joshua Dwyer, Kelly Wolf, Ann Vejsa, Will Manns, Daniel Cook, Nicole Benavidez, Ashley Musso, and Robyn Chavez. Chavez, a five-time race participant, describes the morning of the event. “The weather was perfect! I was a little nervous but overall excited. There were more than 20,000 people who ran it this year and the crowd was amazing!” Participants are encouraged to walk, jog, or run the course. The race leads registrants through several popular landmarks in the city, which makes for terrific sightseeing at a slower pace. There are just enough hills to make the race a fun challenge for experienced runners. “I like to stay active as much as possible,” says Chavez. “Since I’ve done this race in the past, I like to continue with my yearly tradition and try to beat my time from the previous year.” Chaves beat last year’s time by two minutes. Post-race events take place at Vic Mathias Shores Main Lawn overlooking the Lady Bird Lake waterfront. Participants receive massages, free prizes and swag from vendors. Food trucks, live music, and interactive exhibits create a festive atmosphere for hours after the race has ended. What makes the Austin...

Yardi United Sep27

Yardi United

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Yardi quickly established relief resources for clients and a donation platform for employees. To date, Yardi employees have contributed thousands of dollars to disaster relief efforts. The Yardi Foundation will match these employee contributions. Thurs far, Yardi has donated a significant chunk of its $1 million foundation pledge to the following organizations: ShelterBox USA specializes in emergency, temporary shelter for families displaced by natural disasters and conflict. The organization estimates that about 85 million people around the world have been made homeless by adverse natural and political conditions. Houston Food Bank leads the fight against hunger by facilitating food access for all. Last fiscal year, the Houston Food Bank distributed 83,000,000 nutritious meals through local organizations. Nearly 20 counties benefit from Houston Food Bank services. OneStar Foundation has partnered with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to rebuild Texas. The organizations set a goal to raise $100 million through concerts, special events, and other fundraisers. To date, the Rebuild Texas Fund has received $68.6 million to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Southeast Texas Food Bank partners with over 130 non-profit agencies in eight counties. The non-profits provide approximately 90,000 meals to people in need each month. Greater Houston Community Foundation is one of the largest grant makers in the region. The Foundation helps donor direct their contributions towards causes that will have profound impact. One grant, the Mayor Turner and County Judge Emmett Establish Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, has raised more than $67,400,400. Coastal Bend Food Banks, formerly Food Bank of Corpus Christi, offers two family programs and three programs that are targeted towards kids and teens. In addition to food security, the organization focuses on nutrition education. St. Bernard Project shrinks the time between disaster and recovery. The...

Helping After Irma Sep15

Helping After Irma

When Hurricane Irma devastated a string of Caribbean islands and loomed off the coast of Florida, it had been less than two weeks since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas, displacing thousands of people from their homes. Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded. It triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people and made two landfalls before being downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, September 11. For a second time this summer, our team members mobilized for a natural disaster response. Having recently created a housing website to help those affected by Harvey find temporary and permanent homes, we used this experience to quickly launch another dedicated housing registry to assist residents displaced by Irma. Leveraging our RENTCafé property marketing and leasing platform, RENTCafe.com/HurricaneIrma allows displaced residents to find new housing. It also makes it possible for housing providers with properties in the affected and surrounding areas to quickly and easily list available units, some with special concessions. There is no charge for companies to list their properties on the website or for residents to use it. There is also a toll-free hotline that evacuees can call seeking housing assistance if internet is not available. The hotline can be reached at (844) 363-6317. With many clients in the affected areas, we’re offering disaster response assistance for clients affected by either hurricane, including additional program support and tools to help clients communicate with their residents during the aftermath. Taking care of our clients is a critical part of the Yardi mission statement, and representatives are reaching out now to offer these and other services at no charge. “The best-case scenario for everyone is that our disaster response efforts remain untested, but we have them in place so that we can aid...

Storyteller SB Sep12

Storyteller SB

Since 1988, Storyteller Children’s Center has helped Santa Barbara’s homeless and at-risk toddlers achieve kindergarten readiness. Therapeutic preschool and support services provide students will the skills needed to beat the odds and excel. Since our previous article, Storyteller has grown. The second location and its staff are thriving. Even with the second location, the center has a waitlist for enrollments. In 2014, the waitlist averaged 80 families. This year, the waitlist has 144 families. The demand for Storyteller services continues to rise as local families struggle with homelessness, food security, and access to fundamental necessities. More than 90 percent of families serviced live below the 2017 Federal Poverty Guideline of $24,600 for a family of four. Delene Bliss, Director of Development at Storyteller, understands the conditions in which many students live. “That’s not a livable wage,” Bliss said. “That’s just the federal poverty guideline but that wage makes living very, very difficult in Santa Barbara.” About 56 percent of Storyteller families are single income, single parent households. Shelters or crowded, shared residences are what 53 percent of students call home. In addition to precarious living conditions, 43 percent of children strive to learn while managing developmental delays or disabilities. Without the help of Storyteller, these children would risk falling farther behind than their peers. The small classroom settings and one-on-one attention that students receive at Storyteller increase students’ chances for success. Yet in spite of the odds, Storyteller students are flourishing. Storyteller collaborated with the University of California, Channel Island and the University of California, Santa Barbara to conduct a study of Storyteller graduates. Dr. Michael Furlong of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Counseling Clinical and School Psychology program led a team of researchers on a quest to determine the long-term effects of...

Helping After Harvey Sep11

Helping After Harvey

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas. The devastating tropical storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain and killed more than 50 people during its four-day rampage. Due to flooding caused by the hurricane, more than 30,000 people were displaced from their homes in Texas and Louisiana. The evacuees staying in shelters or with friends and relatives included many renters. Yardi software helps manage a significant percentage of the Houston multifamily housing market. Yardi committed $1 million to support nonprofit organizations in the rebuilding of the areas affected by the hurricane, and will match employee donations to the hurricane relief fund. But there was also an opportunity to assist those in need of temporary or permanent housing due to floodwater damage. “The state of Texas is about to undergo one of the largest recovery-housing missions that the nation has ever seen,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said at a news conference Monday. “It’s a long process. Housing is going to be very frustrating in Texas.” Following in the footsteps of an effort to create a housing clearinghouse for Canadians who lost their homes in the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, our RENTCafé development team sprang into action. Using the RENTCafé property marketing and leasing platform, they quickly built a housing website that will help displaced residents find temporary and permanent homes. The website (RENTCafe.com/HurricaneHarvey) allows housing providers to post available units and for displaced residents to search for housing.  Housing providers can visit the site to list properties at no charge. “We had experience with this kind of rush site build from our work on a housing registry website for the fire victims in Canada last spring,” said Chris Ulep, vice president of multifamily development at Yardi. “A collaborative effort got the website ready in just a couple of days. We hope that hurricane evacuees will find it useful as they search for new homes.” Yardi has also launched a hotline that evacuees looking for housing can call for housing assistance. The toll-free number is (844) 363-6317. Additionally, Yardi is offering disaster response assistance for clients on the RENTCafé platform, including nudge messaging, voice messaging and call automation to help clients communicate with their residents during the aftermath. Yardi representatives are reaching out to clients in the affected area to explain and offer these and other services at no charge. “We have many valued clients in the affected area, and it is important to us to assist those clients as well as their residents who may have been displaced. Thousands of people have lost their housing due to this devastating natural disaster, and we want to help in any way we can,” said Anant Yardi, president and founder of Yardi. The efforts to help were appreciated by those in the affected area. “Our industry is committed to housing and providing needed services like online housing portals and other resources to assist those in need.  We applaud the efforts of our supplier partners to assist those impacted by the hurricane,” said Chris Newton, executive vice president of the Texas Apartment Association. Additional resources for Yardi clients in the region include: The Texas Apartment Association has links to relevant documents and policies that may affect Houston property owners and managers. Policies for tax credit properties during federally declared disasters. An Emergency and Disaster Library from the National Apartment Association, with Hurricane Harvey content. For those who would like to help or support agencies working on the recovery effort in Texas, there are many ways to do so. A few resources include: Relief organizations assisting with evacuee support: Red Cross: donate online or by text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. The United Way Salvation Army – Text STORM to 51555 GlobalGiving Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Greater Houston Community Foundation – Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund The Way Home Portlight Charity Navigator compiled a...

Stronger + Smarter Sep07

Stronger + Smarter

Local students are back in class, and that means back to awesome after school activities for the young ladies who participate in Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara’s afternoon programming. Yardi is a longtime philanthropic supporter of Girls Inc.’s efforts in the community. For the second year, this fall a partnership with UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education will expose several dozen fourth to sixth grade girls to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program is called the Curie-osity Project (after trailblazing female scientist Marie Curie), and it was a runaway success when it started in Winter 2017. “The girls are exposed to women who are in the STEM profession. They are experiencing hands on STEM projects and having the opportunity to really dive in and and learn about those areas,” said Kristina Webster, director of programs for Girls Inc. The success of the program highlights two of the things the non-profit organization excels at: creating meaningful community partnerships, and enlisting the support of dedicated volunteers. 12 female UCSB scientists donated their time to welcome the Girls Inc. students to their laboratories and offices last year – a similar number will do the same this fall and winter. “We wanted to create a program that combined literacy and science for girls,” said Danielle Harlow, an associate professor of education, in a UCSB press release. Harlow and colleague Diana Arya were the leaders on the UCSB side of the project. “We specifically wanted the girls to come to UCSB’s campus because research tells us that children who spend time on university campuses see college campuses as places they belong and are more likely to pursue higher education,” Harlow said. Last year, the girls in the program learned about how computer programs...

Picnic in the Park Aug25

Picnic in the Park

Millions of kids across the United States rely on school lunch as their affordable, nutritious daytime meal throughout the school year. But what happens when school is out? For many kids, hunger is a tragic condition associated with summer break. Foodbanks across the country are working to end summer hunger. The coordinated effort of nonprofit staff and volunteers serves millions of healthy meals all summer long at locations easily accessible to kids. Parks and playgrounds are prime locations to reach kids in need. Judith Smith-Meyer, marketing communications manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County describes the Picnic in the Park program, which served more than 30,000 lunches in 2017 to kids across the region. “Lunches always include vegetables, fruit, milk, protein and carbohydrates. We serve everything from chef salad, tuna salad, turkey and cheese sandwiches, to plums, apples, yogurt and hardboiled eggs,” said Judith. The lunch menu can often depend on what the Foodbank has in stock. However, the notoriously fickle taste buds of children can also play a big part in crafting the menu. “We found that in certain parks the kids really did not like tuna salad sandwiches. We were thankful for that feedback and switched tuna out for peanut butter and jelly the next time we were there. At another park, the kids were really not fond of Caesar salad dressing. Our local Walmart donated another type of dressing which we served the next time we were in that park, which was a lot more successful,” said Judith. Foodbank volunteers are strategic about when and where they plan lunch services to coincide with the financial needs of neighborhoods and to not overlap with similar programs run by other organizations. “This is a big county with a lot of varying demographics....

Sizzling Summer Luau

Did you know that 48 percent of California’s seniors lack sufficient income to cover housing and meals? That means two out of every five seniors have to choose between paying rent and having enough money for food. Serving Seniors is a 501c3 nonprofit that minimizes the financial burden faced by thousands of San Diego seniors. Since 1970, Serving Seniors has offered vital services including food, health care, housing, social and educational opportunities. It is the only organization of its kind in the county, and one of few in the country, to provide for the fundamental needs of seniors. Food and housing top the organization’s list of priorities. Seniors ages 60 and older are eligible for congregate meals and physical, mental, and social health services. Seniors 62 and older are eligible for those services as well as permanent affordable housing at the organization’s communities in East Village and City Heights. There is also a transitional housing program for seniors facing housing insecurity. “Meals and affordable housing are the most-needed services we offer,” says Shannon Fogg, Communications and Special Events Manager at Serving Seniors. “San Diegans can always volunteer to help serve meals or lead classes. Any kind of class is typically interesting to our curious seniors.” Serving Seniors understands that clients have needs beyond the necessities. Learning and socialization opportunities give seniors a chance to make new friends, learn new skills and develop existing abilities. To maintain mental and physical agility, seniors participate in classes for low or no costs. Yoga, Tai Chi, interactive games, art, crafts, and health education classes are just of few opportunities for mature adult learners. The Civic Engagement league empowers low-income seniors to address challenges that impact their community. They participate in volunteer opportunities, brainstorm and execute solutions to community issues....

ATL March of Dimes

Atlanta summers are known for their sweltering heat and ruthless humidity. Those conditions were no match for Yardi Atlanta. The team of eight braved the heat to show their support for babies during the March of Dimes March for Babies. Supported by donations from fellow team members, their efforts helped to give hope and support to babies and their families. March of Dimes was born as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, a response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s personal struggle with polio and his desire to see the disease eradicated. The organization fought and achieved its mission to end polio in the United States before turning its attention to broader services. The nonprofit now supports March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center in its fight for healthy babies. The center leads in groundbreaking research on the genetic causes of birth defects, screening methods, as well as pregnancy education for medical professionals and the general public. March of Dimes and the Prematurity Research Center have experienced major breakthroughs. The teams created and improved surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress. The new Folic Acid Campaign successfully reduces incidences of neural tube defects and birth defects of the brain and spine. The organizations also founded a system of regional neonatal intensive care centers for premature and sick babies. To continue the good work, March of Dimes relies on March for Babies as its primary fundraiser. There are thousands of marches across the United States each year, each one uniting teams of family members, coworkers, and friends on a journey towards a future for healthy babies. Yardi Atlanta team members Heather Humrich, Monique Benson, Ken Romero, Kami Reid, Wendy Caffrey, Shana Winbush, Charity Williams, and Elizabeth Daniels participated in the march. They represented Yardi on the walk of the...

Back to School

Back-to-school season can be a stressful time. New schedules, new responsibilities, and seemingly endless errands can be overwhelming for families. For some, obtaining school supplies is a major stressor. Yardi Atlanta made back-to-school preparations a bit brighter for several local families. Yardi Atlanta adopted Mimosa Elementary School, a Title 1 school with about 800 students. The school lies within an Economic Opportunity Zone, an area where many families have lower incomes. Nearly 95 percent of students at the school qualify for free or reduced lunch rates, meaning that their parents’ income falls below the poverty line. The Atlanta team leads several projects to assist the school and its hardworking families. Heather Humrich, Administrative Assistant, G&A, works closely with school counselor Flynn Pustilnik. Together, they find ways to get essential resources to the kids who need them most. “I love being a school counselor,” says Pustilnik. “I enjoy helping students resolve problems that may arise and overcome barriers to learning so that they can achieve academic success.” In early August, the Atlanta team completed a School Supply Drive. Yardi employees purchased brand new school supplies and left their donations in decorative boxes throughout the office. Some employees bought paper, pencils, markers, backpacks, and similar supplies for the elementary school students. Their donations filled three large boxes. Other employees donated money for the purchase of school materials, totaling $147. Those funds contributed to four over-stuffed backpacks full of school necessities for students. Pustilnik estimates that Yardi’s donation will serve about 100 students. “The donated goods help our students start the year school prepared and ready for learning.  They can focus more on academics knowing that their basic needs have been met and that they have the materials that they will need to be successful in the classroom,”...

Raleigh Food Bank Aug09

Raleigh Food Bank

The Corporate Training Team recently convened for its annual conference. Participants dedicated one morning of the event to volunteering at the Raleigh branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (Food Bank CENC). “For my team, since we’re spread through the U.S., we only get together once a year,” says Debbie Lamberson, Team Leader, Corporate Training at Yardi. “We spend much of that time learning but this year we wanted to do team building. Everybody wants to do it again next year! It was hard work but it was exciting to know how much what we were doing was going to help seniors.” Yardi Employees Lamberson, Jamie Hall, Jon Hodgkin, Julie Taylor, Lacey Petch, Laura Guerrero, Lina Castanon, Marcus Rutherford, Patty Evans, and Steve Harris participated in the event. Cary Middle School Future Business Leaders joined Yardi employees that morning, adding a fun dynamic to the group. The team of 25 sorted and assembled packages that would be distributed to smaller food banks in the area. With their efforts combined, the volunteers completed 484 boxes for seniors in three hours, beating the organization’s record average of 450 boxes per shift. The boxes contained about 14,360 lbs of food. “The Food Bank figures 19 ounces for an average senior meal, so we created 12,101 meals,” says Lamberson. The Raleigh branch of Food Bank CENC provides relief for the vulnerable populations of 13 counties. In this region, the United States Census Bureau reports that 27.9 percent of the local population earns an income that falls below the poverty level. Food Bank CENC estimates that more than 45,500 seniors in its region live in poverty, and thousands more struggle to survive on a fixed income. Food donation packaging is just one of the many...

CSD Gives Back

What do you remember most about your summers as a child? Many of us enjoyed camps and retreats during our breaks from school. For others, those activities were not an option. United Way Santa Barbara (UWSB) is working to level the playing field for a new generation of local students by providing summer enrichment for ask-risk youth. Members of the local Yardi Voyager Client Success Residential SB 2 Team recently volunteered at the UWSB Fun in the Sun (FITS) Lunch Bunch event. Volunteers included Evan Hamilton, Brandon Paul, Luke Smith, Sonia Acuna, Ryan Daley, Baron Wei, Richard Ngoy, Dan Maliniak and Jomel Esleta, Team Leader, CSD. FITS is a six-week learning program geared towards children who are academically and financially at-risk. Esleta explains, “FITS is an important program for the community because these students’ parents spend much of their time working. The children are often unsupervised during the summer and are exposed to behavioral risks. FITS provides students and their families with unique and engaging experiences to reduce and reverse ‘summer learning loss’ and narrow the achievement gap between lower-income students and their middle or upper class peers.” Summer learning loss is a condition examined and analyzed through a 20-year study at Johns Hopkins University. When students lack access to enrichment activities over the summer, they lose academic skills gained during the previous year. They are also less prepared for the upcoming school year. The affects of summer learning loss accumulate year after year, pushing the students farther behind their peers who are able to continue learning during the summer. “By ninth grade, summer learning loss can be blamed for roughly two-thirds of the achievement gap separating income groups,” says TIME Magazine. To prevent summer learning loss, volunteers help students with hands-on assignments, arts and...

Working for the Earth

One of our newest offices, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, has an innovative Earth Day tradition. Formerly Pulse Energy, Yardi Vancouver is a founding member of EarthWork Day (EWD), an annual collaboration with three other environmentally-minded companies. “Held on or close to Earth Day every year, staff from each company dedicate their time on EWD to local environmental projects,” explained Colin Chan, a CSD manager for the Yardi Smart Energy Suite. This year, two projects were taken on the day before Earth Day, Friday, April 21. Each team member receives a small budget of $22 to put toward supplies, and the projects selected are always environmentally conscious. Teams are mixed between the participating companies, so everyone gets to meet and work with someone new. At the end of the day, it’s time for a get together to share snacks, notes and beer. This year’s projects were: Maplewood Flats Habitat Restoration “This is the third year we have participated in this project, restoring habitat for the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly that has gone extinct from the North Vancouver area from urban development,” Chan explained. “We’ve been removing invasive plant species and planting native species in the hopes that we can eventually import caterpillars from other areas where the butterfly still exists and re-introducing it to the area.” The effort at the habitat aids the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia. “It’s been personally rewarding to see the progress we’ve made from year-to-year. The Wild Bird Trust is a small non-profit with limited funding and resources, so it’s a great feeling to help contribute to the success of their habitat restoration project,” said Jennifer Sinclair, office administrator for Yardi Vancouver. “It has also been a fun annual team-building event for our office!” Garden Planter Construction A Vancouver public low income housing complex needed garden planters to help residents improve food security by growing their own produce. “In one day, the team built 15 planter beds, including some that were accessible to residents who use wheelchairs,” Chan said. Tyler Fawcett, creative director in the programming department, participated in the effort. “We joined forces with BC Housing to construct planter boxes behind two of their residential buildings. 15 new boxes were constructed and filled with soil, to be used as flower and vegetable gardens by the building residents. “Before the boxes were even half-done, many enthusiastic residents had come out to claim their plots in the new garden,” Fawcett shared. Photos from the day appear in the gallery...

Honoring Towbes May02

Honoring Towbes

The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTF) has received a $5,000 contribution from Yardi in honor of the late Michael Towbes, local businessman and philanthropist, and to support the agency’s new South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program. “Michael Towbes was a champion of workforce housing and was committed to the Housing Trust Fund’s mission to expand workforce housing opportunities. Yardi is pleased to be a ‘seed sponsor’ of HTF’s new South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program. We hope that our donation in honor of Michael Towbes will inspire other business to contribute to this worthwhile workforce housing program,” said Gordon Morrell, Executive Vice President of Yardi. Michael Towbes served on the Board of Directors of the Housing Trust Fund for 12 years and the agency greatly benefited from his expertise, experience and generosity. The grant award from Yardi will provide key operational support for HTF as it launches the South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program, which will provide low-cost down payment loans up to $100,000 to help first-time working households buy an entry-level home in the community where they work. The Housing Trust Fund is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to expand affordable rental and homeownership housing opportunities throughout Santa Barbara County for working households and our most vulnerable populations.  HTF operates a countywide $6.7 million Revolving Loan Fund for affordable housing in partnership with community lenders. The loan fund provides short-term, low-cost loans to qualified sponsors of affordable housing for the production, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income households. The agency also operates a countywide Workforce Homebuyer Program that provides down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers. HTF was created by countywide community leaders to address our region’s critical affordable housing needs by building innovative partnerships between the...

Helping the Hungry

According to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, one in five Cleveland kids goes hungry on a regular basis. Yardi’s Cleveland office recently teamed up in a friendly competition to do something to help. “Since 2013, we have held a non-perishable food drive and competition each year to contribute to the Food Bank’s Harvest for Hunger campaign,” said Karen Parker, a technical account manager on the Cleveland CSD team. “Each year we have topped our previous effort and raised more than the previous. We started in 2013 with 48 employees and collected 375 pounds of donations. This year we have 70 employees and managed to collect 1,735 pounds.” The theme of the effort is the “Fight Hunger Games,” a concept Parker came up with when the popular book trilogy Hunger Games, now also two films, was wildly popular a few years back. “The office is divided into Districts.  Each District is represented by a Tribute.   And the Fight Hunger Games begin,” Parker explained. “Each District brings in supplies and food donations.  These are counted and become part of the final score. The Tributes participate in a round of games.  The scores are totaled and winners announced.” It’s a fun and friendly competition but can get competitive, said Parker, leading to some spirited games of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Other games included Guess Who and Corn Hole. There’s also a potluck food component that everyone in the office can enjoy. “A soup kitchen is created with staff members bringing in various types of soups, dips, salads and desserts.  A donation of two cans of food will get you all the soup you can eat.  And believe me, it was really yummy,” Parker said. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank explains that the donations are badly needed, especially at...

Computers for Families Apr03

Computers for Families

Since 1996, Computers for Families (CFF) has provided computers and Internet access to low-income families in the Santa Barbara area. The inventory is comprised of donations from local businesses, organizations, and South Coast residents. The need for accessible technology continues to grow. Executive Director Chelsea Pacino Duffy explains, “Despite the fact that technology is more prevalent today than it was when the program first began, we continue to see a steady need for both computers and internet access as demonstrated by nearly 600 families who attend our computer distributions each year.” The distributions benefit families who demonstrate the greatest need. CFF collaborates with Santa Barbara County teachers to identify students who lack access to educational technology at home. Before being able to take a computer home, families receive guidance on device maintenance and program usage. After their training, families choose their computer and take it home. “We’ve became aware of how technology training for parents is just as important, if not more so, as is having a computer in the home. So we are currently working to expand our training efforts to help parents be better supporters of their children’s education,” says Duffy. To date, CFF has contributed more than 11,000 computers to Santa Barbara households. The initiative aims to help students stay engaged in school. Access to educational technology also gives students the competitive edge needed to succeed in the workplace as adults. Internet access is an equally important resource for today’s students. CFF educates computer recipients on the availability of the Connect2Compete (C2C) program at Cox Communications. C2C connects families to low-cost broadband internet services so that they can get the most out of their devices. CFF has recently expanded those offering thanks to a new grant. “We have been lucky to work with the California Emerging Technology Fund through a Frontier-sponsored grant this year,” says Duffy. “Through the grant, any family that signs up discounted internet–whether it be Frontier, Cox, or another provider—is qualified to receive a free Chromebook. To receive this offer, families simply need to submit proof of installation in the form of their first bill. Computers for Families staff is providing support to families who need help signing up for discounting internet.” The combined programs are already changing lives. Duffy recalls a recent experience: A single mother of four struggled to provide reliable internet access for her four children. The only access she could provide was through a smartphone. Unfortunately, each of the kids began to fall behind in their studies; many school assignments required the use of a computer, internet research, or digital presentations. During parent/teacher conferences, the mother voiced her concerns. The teacher mentioned Computers for Families. “The mother didn’t know that the program existed,” says Duffy. “She could not believe that she could receive a free desktop computer. While meeting with staff, she also shared about her issues getting internet access.” CFF staff invited the mother to the upcoming distribution fair where she received a desktop computer for her family. She also qualified for discounted internet through Frontier and a free Chromebook. “She was amazed by the many options available to her and that CFF was able to help her,” says Duffy. “As a result of this support, those four children will be able to do their homework that required internet and computer access.” Community support doesn’t stop there. CFFpartners with the Los Prietos Boys Camp, a residential rehabilitation program for young men. The teen boys receive training on computer repair and tech support, and also assist CFF distribution events and provide assistance to families. Through their involvement with CFF distribution events, the young men learn customer service and leadership skills. Their training may ultimately lead to additional education and career opportunities. Yardi is a proud supporter of Computers for Families. By donating 75 desktops and 150 laptops last year, the premiere software company provides opportunities for local children to...

SOHARA

Rekha Rao, Co-Founder of SOHARA, was born and raised in India. She grew up surrounded by the country’s rich heritage of visual arts, classical music and dance, all of which shaped her perspectives and values and an ongoing involvement in the cultural arts. It’s a time in her life that she remembers fondly. Rao relocated to America more than 40 years ago when her husband was finishing his Ph.D. in the United States. “We grew up in India and although now settled in the U.S., we go back often and continue to maintain strong ties to India,” says Rao. “Our children and now our grandchildren are born here and their ties to India are a little different than ours. We want all of them to be exposed to India’s rich arts and take pride in their heritage.” That yearning sparked the birth of SOHARA. The root word, “sohar,” represents traditional songs that were sung at the birth of a baby in the Mithila region of ancient India, current day Bihar. “It was perfect. SOHARA is the birthing of a small non-profit organization. We were inspired by our children, to share our passions with them in a more formalized way. The name was perfect and, at the time, SOHARA website was available, too!” Unfortunately, someone purchased the domain name shortly before the organization formed. (“I should have grabbed it when I had the chance,” laughs Rao.) Unfazed, the nonprofit marched forward with its mission. “Our mission, basically, is to bring the best of India’s arts and traditions here as opportunities come our way and share them with the audiences locally especially the younger audiences. We look to collaborate with other organizations involved in cultural arts, whenever feasible,” says Rao. To date, SOHARA has hosted events in...

Breaking the Cycle

Many Americans are unaware of the prevalence of domestic violence in our communities. Domestic Violence Solutions (DVS) strives to educate the public while creating a pathway of hope for those who experience domestic abuse firsthand. DVS is Santa Barbara County’s only full-service domestic violence agency, committed to ending the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence through prevention and intervention services. DVS provides the county’s only 24-hour shelter service, as well as the county’s only transitional housing program for domestic violence survivors. The necessity of these life-saving resources remains vastly unacknowledged. During corporate outreach events, DVS Executive Director Charles Anderson often asks, “Do any of you know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence?” Audience members often shake their heads. Yet without fail, after the meetings, someone discretely approaches Anderson or his staff. They carry their secrets in tow. “After one session, a woman came up and touched my arm,” Anderson recalls. “She said, ‘I was in your program eight years ago. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead.’ She worked in the office with all those people and none of them knew the struggle that she went through. People don’t tell anyone because they just want to move forward. Escaping can be hard enough.” Escaping domestic violence can often be an arduous and dangerous journey for the victims. Many take the first step towards liberation after a tragic incident that requires police intervention. Until recent years, law enforcement focused solely on securing the aggressors. Victims were left without resources to move forward safely or confidently. At times, victims were  even blamed for their role in their abuse. In response, DVS applied for a was awarded a three-year Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team (DVERT)  grant from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)....