Sip & Shop Raises Key Funds for DLC ‘Passport’

Sip & Shop Raises Key Funds for DLC ‘Passport’
Event organizers and neighbor friends Regina Sooey, Ashlea Joplin, Allison Sample, Liz Paige, Maggie Jensen and Suzanne Honeycutt

San Marco neighbors and local businesses partnered for a successful pre-holiday fundraiser benefitting Riverside- and Ortega-based nonprofit Developmental Learning Center. The Sip & Shop with Leila’s Boutique helped raise more than $2,000 for DLC, which provides education and on-site therapy services for children with special needs and severe medical complexities.

Held November 15 at Joe and Suzanne Honeycutt’s Duck Pond home, the Sip & Shop raised funds and momentum for the organization at a critical time. DLC recently lost its annual $50,000 United Way contribution due to a change in its giving protocol. This inspired DLC board members to reimagine and maximize the organization’s fundraising strategies — including its upcoming “Passport shopping fundraiser.”  The event has been a mainstay in the Riverside/Avondale area for many years and is making the switch to San Marco venues in 2023.

San Marco neighbors and businesses have taken an all-hands-on-deck response to the challenge. While DLC board member and volunteer Allison Sample was researching the possibility of moving Passport to San Marco, San Marco boutique owner Leila Williams offered her women’s clothing inventory for a seed money-raising shopping event. Neighborhood and business owner momentum continued to build. Maggie Jensen, a Realtor at 904 Home Group, got her company to sponsor the Sip & Shop. Then the Honeycutts offered their home, sent invitations from their extensive address book and offered to match donations from the evening up to $5,000.

“And here we are — on our way to making up for the $50,000,” Sample said.

DLC has been a priority for the Honeycutts and other San Marco neighbors for very personal reasons. Suzanne and husband Joe, a DLC board member, “inherited” amazing neighbors with a shared driveway when they bought their Duck Pond house more than a decade ago. Chris, Ilene, Clio and August Chazan Gabbard lived next door. Son August was a student at DLC Nurse and Learn, a ministry that allowed Chris and Ilene to continue with their careers and for August to be loved and stretched in his development. DLC was a true God-send, the Honeycutts recalled.

Leila along with volunteers for the event
Leila along with volunteers for the event

“When August died a few weeks before he turned 15, Ilene and Chris held his service in our front yard on the Duck Pond,” Suzanne Honeycutt said. “All of the neighbors came and we wept and celebrated his life together because that’s the way this neighborhood is. We stand together.  It is our honor to host this evening and celebrate August and the best neighbors in the world.”

Williams said neighborhood relationships are what inspire successful fundraising for important community causes — and why her store supports them.

“As a small business owner in the Square for over 19 years, we have gotten to know our customers, on more than a professional level,” Williams said. “So, it’s throughout those relationships, that we are able to give back and support causes that are near and dear to them through events like this.”

Realtor Jensen said as important as it is for people to love their homes, it is important for working parents to know their children love their homes away from home. This was the inspiration behind her involvement in the recent fundraiser.

“Not all daycares, schools or special needs facilities are the havens we wish them to be,” Jensen said. “It is up to us to take ownership of our ability to serve these communities with our time and resources.”

Because of the overwhelming support friends and volunteers found for DLC in their neighborhood, organizers are moving DLC’s Passport fundraiser to San Marco on Saturday, April 1, 2023. The tagline for Passport is “Shop Local. Go Global.” It will include a day of shopping in historic San Marco and a drawing for a $2,000 travel voucher.

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

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