New After School Program Coming to Atascadero

From our friends at A-Town Daily News

The Kiwanis Club of Atascadero and Must! Charities have committed to a three-year donation for Boys & Girls Club, with the opportunity for Must! to match the Kiwanis donation dollar for dollar. The funds will be given to the Boys & Girls Club of North San Luis Obispo to help launch a year-round after school program in Atascadero.

Safe-and-positive-boys-and-girls-clubThere are over a thousand children in the North County who do not have a safe place to go after school. Must! charities has been working with the Boys & Girls Club for the past few years to help alleviate this problem.

“When we heard that Kiwanis of Atascadero had chosen Boys & Girls Club as their beneficiary for their 2015 Winemaker Dinner & Auction, we thought this could be a great opportunity to partner & leverage our dollars,” said Executive Director of Must! Charities Becky Gray. “We like to give strategically over time, so that the impact of our dollars go further and the return on our investment is more than a one time drop in the bucket. Must! Charities believes wholeheartedly in collaboration, it is the premise of our mission; it’s how we operate successfully.”

Over the past few months, leaders of Must! and Kiwanis sat down together to talk about community needs, and learn more about how each organization operates. A commonality in core values and goals for the community surfaced and further discussions led to the potential idea of partnering in a strategic way. In a recent membership meeting the Kiwanis approved the three-year giving commitment and partnership with Must!

“Kiwanis is proud and excited to partner with Must! Charities and the North County Boys & Girls Club to bring an after-school program to the children and families of Atascadero,” said president of the Kiwanis Club of Atascadero Glen Casey. “The Boys & Girls Club program fits our commitment to community and children to a “T.” Providing sustainable funding through Must! Charities and Kiwanis allows the Boys & Girls Club to ramp up their external funding program and staffing without initial financial concerns. Our three-year collective commitment is substantial, however, we look forward to an even longer association with both Must! Charities and the Boys and Girls Club as the program matures and grows in Atascadero and other opportunities present themselves as we strengthen our community.”

must! charities and Big Brothers Big Sisters Collaboration Video

Months in the making and it is finally here!


It’s Good to Give


Terry Hoage Vineyards expands, rebrands as TH Estate Wines

Terry-Hogue-WineryCheck out this article from Paso Robles Daily News on must! partner Terry Hoage Vineyards, or shall we say TH Wine Estates!

Terry Hoage Vineyards,  partner at must! charities, announced that, as part of a planned expansion, it is rebranding as TH Estate Wines. The rebrand includes a new logo, which exemplifies the wines it produces and creates a foundation for further diversification, including the introduction of a new label, Decroux, in 2016, which will focus on elegant, cool climate pinot noir, syrah and grenache.

TH Estate Wines was founded by Terry Hoage, a two-time All-American, who spent 13 years as an NFL player, including a 1992 Super Bowl win, and his wife, Jennifer. Since 2002, the winery has focused on the production of Rhone-style wines from its organically-sustainably farmed estate in the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles. The winery has received numerous accolades from publications such as Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator, and is noted for its complex wines expressing exceptional fruit that is forward and focused.

According to Jennifer Hoage, the new name is part of an overall initiative to evolve the acclaimed winery to the next level of growth, with a new and innovative customer experience for wine club members, a new tasting room, including a private tasting room, expanded case production and distribution, and a new website.

“Our philosophy has always been to respect our land, our grapes and all our customers. Our expansion, and the development of our new brand, has evolved carefully and with this mission top of mind,” said Jennifer Hoage. “Our focus is on bringing the TH Estate Wines experience to more consumers, without sacrificing our roots and overarching goal of excellence.”

The TH Estate Wines portfolio includes its classic lineup of estate red and white Rhone-style wines, bottled under TH Vineyards, including both cuvee and varietal bottlings of syrah, grenache, mourvedre, grenache blanc, picpoul blanc and roussanne, with labels like ‘The Hedge’, ‘Skins,’ ‘the 46’ that reference co-owner and winemaker Terry Hoage’s NFL past.

New to the portfolio is the Decroux label, which will be introduced in 2016. Decroux wines are vinified by Jennifer Hoage who, in addition to being a winemaker, is also an artist, journalist, and a former student of the renowned French corporal mime Etienne Decroux. Like their namesake, Decroux wines will seek to exhibit finesse and elegance in the essence of existence. The folio will focus on varietals from cooler Central Coast climates. Decroux will initially be offered exclusively to club members.

Since 2004, Terry and Jennifer have shared winemaking duties and the farming of the 26 acre, organically farmed Rhone varietals.

“Our winery from inception is, at its core, the labor and passion of the Terry Hoage family but, as our business continues to evolve and our wine family expands, we wanted to find an expression that would put the emphasis squarely on the wines and provide a springboard for the development of our new labels,” said Terry Hoage. “We believe our new look and name reflect both our minimalist and nuanced approach to winemaking, as well as our commitment to producing world-class and sophisticated wines.”

Must! charities youth board applications now available

becky_grayMust! charities is now accepting applications from local high school students in Northern San Luis Obispo County who attend Atascadero, Cambria, Paso Robles, Shandon, or Templeton high schools, to serve on its Youth Board. Students serving on the board will work with the organization to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, youth and families living in North County.

Students are eligible for the board if they are entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade for the fall of 2015.

Youth board members must:

  • Attend a monthly meeting on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. for one school year beginning in Oct. 2015
  • Actively participate in volunteer service projects with Must!
  • Serve as a liason to their respective schools with by recruiting new board members for upcoming years

To apply, click here.

The organization has experimented with a youth board for the past year and is now in a position to expand that board and provide a platform for North County youth leaders to work together, regardless of the school they attend or the area in which they live.

These youth leaders should be interested in giving back to their communities through service and time committed. “We want to empower our local youth as we invest in our communities,”‘ said Becky Gray, the executive director
of the organization, “It is equally important to educate our youth leaders about philanthropy and the benefits of our collaborative gifting and accountability process.”

Happy Match Story: Jenivive and Darlene

A Happy Match Story shared by Big Brothers Big Sisters…

Picture3Jenevive’s mom has been sober for most of the last decade, but she still feels guilty about the first few years of her daughter’s life. She attends a parenting support group, trying to be a better mom, and takes college classes towards a degree, trying to build a better life. When Jenevive’s teacher expressed concerns that Jene was reluctant to follow rules or respect authority, Mom realized her child needed more positive role models to look up to. “Her whole life she’s just been watching me struggle to make things okay for us. I want her to also be close to someone whose life is already okay, so she can imagine her life like that one day.”

Darlene, a computer engineer and sculptor, has been spending 2 afternoons each month with Jene for 4 years . They take hikes, make art, go swimming and visit the library together. When asked to describe her Little Sister, she has plenty to say. “She is so articulate and engaging. An amazing young lady. She seems so mature! She’s doing well in school and with her family. She was in a resource class…for kids who need extra help. But she’s back in regular classes now and really happy about it. I don’t have any worries about HER future.”

Oh to be 10 again…

Oh to be 10 again… – by Becky Gray

becky_grayIt’s been just over a month since I met my Little Sister. We have gotten together twice now. I didn’t realize how simple this would be, and how good this would be for my soul.

You see I have 2 teenage daughters now, who I adore. Our pool time is spent lying on rafts, working on our tan, or quick dips in the pool to cool off. Pool time with them is like being at a resort, very chill and serene.

But pool time with my Little Sister is like going back in time. Diving for dive sticks, making silly faces underwater at each other, cannonball jumps, underwater somersaults, and running and jumping on the pool floats. I’ll be honest with you, I was thinking that I wouldn’t have fun, thinking to myself, “ok – I’ve graduated to ‘lay by the pool’ status. I earned this status by doing my time… this whole swimming thing with a 9year old might be dreadful.” But, boy was I wrong.

Spending time with my Little Sister is rejuvenating. It’s fun, I mean really, really fun. It makes me feel young and free. It has brought so much joy into my life that I didn’t think was missing. Having a little sister is good for my soul.

Twice now we have spent time at my house. We’ve been swimming both times. We’ve rented a movie, baked a cake and frosted it, baked cookies, baked a pizza, and painted our nails. I have had a blast spending time with her. This week, her family invited me to join them for her 10th birthday. I was honored to join in on the fun. We enjoyed our time together and have our next outing scheduled. We are heading to the waterpark. It’s been a few years since I have been to the waterpark, and I am looking forward to enjoying it with my sweet 10-year-old friend on her level.

Thank YOU must! charities

Thank YOU must charities!

Straight From the “Nut” House

“The North County wine community is unique – we are more of a community.  In the true sense of community.”
–Ray Derby, Owner, Derby Wine Estates

Ray and Pam Dec 2014(2)For those of us raised on the Central Coast, to see the historic Almond Growers Building brought to its former glory the last few years has been iconic.  Touring the building (or shall we say art piece) with Ray and Pam Derby, it is clear it was, and still is, a labor of love for them.  Purchased in 2010, Ray and Pam spent three years researching, designing, retrofitting and rehabilitating the building.  No longer the “nut house”, it is now home to Derby Wine Estates tasting room and production facility as well as serving as an iconic landmark for Paso Robles.

But the Derby’s are more than just the Almond Growers Building – they are also an integral partner at must! charities, donating time, energy and resources to improving the community we live in.  And in the ride up to the top of the nut house, where their granddaughter Daisy (see her cute photo) loves to change the color of the tower’s lights, the Derby’s began to share their story that brought them to must! charities.

Ray had been thinking for some time about Derby’s giving policies – were they making a difference?  Was their givingdaisy planned?  Did their giving align with their own values?  At that same time, he heard must! charities’ Executive Director Becky Gray speak with great conviction at a local Rotary meeting.  Giving back to the community while at the same time doing so responsibly resonated with him.

He and Pam began re-evaluating Derby’s giving policies and decided that with increased focus and accountability, their giving could greater impact their community.  They chose to align themselves with must! charities for many reasons, but they keyed in on what must! requires of project collaborators – the level of accountability to create sustainable, long-term change was important to them.

Derby Wine Estates now has a clear and concise giving policy – all charitable giving is directed to must! charities.  All.  Those three letters still get our Executive Director teary eyed today because it was such a momentous commitment and collaboration; not only in dollars going directly back into the community, but also serving as a model for other businesses to emulate.

Being the family-oriented business owners they are, the Derby’s wanted their team members to still have the opportunity to help causes close to their hearts.  As part of their giving policy, employees can purchase wine at a discount (that’s a deep slash cut discount) and donate the wine to charities of their choosing.

Ray and Pam are not only a couple of deep conviction and strong roots, they are innovators in local philanthropy. To support Derby Wine Estates, follow them on Facebook or visit their tasting room at 525 Riverside Avenue in Paso Robles.