Update on December must! month

Here is an updated list of who’s taking part in the December must! charities month. We are beyond thankful for these partnerships. Please go supports these folks and by doing so, you help our community.

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Check Out this Interview with our Executive Director, Becky Wells Gray

I was first introduced to Beth Wonson in 2015. A colleague recommended I reach out to her, as I was looking to hire a third party professional development consultant to assist must! with one of our projects. As part of must! charities funding model, we often underwrite the costs of professional consultants to come in and assist non-profits in areas of need. Beth and I had a connection right off the bat. She was instrumental in helping non-profits navigate through challenges, provided confidential coaching for leaders, as well as transform leadership through better communication. She was instrumental for our organization as well, as I began taking some of her training courses and have learned some amazing leadership skills from her.


Click on this link to hear the interview with Beth Wonson…(or read the transcript)




must! Partner Clos Solene Featured at Santa Barbara Film Festival

Check out the article in Paso Press about our friends at Clos Solene:

Clos-SoleneA short film about Paso Robles’ Clos Solene Winery has been accepted into the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“Clos Solene,” a an 8-minute documentary by San Luis Obispo photographer and Cal Poly graduate Chris Leschinsky, will be part of a group of “Screen Cuisine” shorts to be shown Feb. 6-7 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The film is about Clos Solene’s founder, French winemaker Guillaume Fabre, who moved to California to start his own winery and raise his family. The film follows Guillaume, his wife Solene, and his two young children through the grape growing season. This charming short feature is about a man, his family, his vision and his passion.

“This is our dream becoming reality,” says Solene Fabre. “We invested the small savings we had, worked and still work as much as possible to first, make elegant wine with character and personality, but also to develop a relationship with the persons who are supporting us in this endless work.”

The 11-day event showcases over 200 films from 54 countries around the globe. Over 85,000 attendees will converge on Santa Barbara to view films at various historical sites throughout Santa Barbara. “Screen Cuisine” is a selection of short documentaries featuring engaging stories about brew masters, chefs, entrepreneurs, and winemakers.

The screening of “Clos Solene” is on Feb. 6 is at 10 a.m., and on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m.

Giving Back Locally

“The local community has been incredibly supportive and it made sense to give back locally.”
–Carole MacDonal, Owner, Il Cortile Ristorante and La Cosecha

_L004800I think we all marvel at business owners, who not only take risks on enterprises, juggle multiple moving parts, survive on little to no sleep, work tirelessly to turn a dream into reality, but who also have faith that a community will support their endeavor.  Carole and Santos wisely invested in the Paso Robles’ downtown, first opening Il Cortile Ristorante and more recently, La Cosecha Bar & Restaurant.

Carole and her husband, chef Santos MacDonal, moved here thinking it was absolute paradise.  And while paradise is still found in Paso Robles, she learned quickly that there are people struggling with poverty on a daily basis.  1 in 5 children in the North County live in poverty having the highest rate of free and reduced lunch in San Luis Obispo County.  She found it is also one of the least talked about topics in our affluent region.

Carole is no stranger to philanthropy and volunteerism. She was involved in mentoring programs in Los Angeles and has long supported efforts in Third World countries.  So when Terry and Jennifer Hoage took Carole out to lunch and explained how must! charities is working in our local community, she saw their passion and recognized a successful model.  Her confidence in must! charities increased, seeing the achievement in restoring the Boys and Girls Club to a vibrant refuge for school-aged kids.

Carole was told once, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”  So that’s how Third Thursday began.  A busy Carole spearheaded a downtown campaign for businesses to dedicate the third Thursday of every month promoting a themed discount or special offer, with a portion of proceeds benefiting must! charities.  Almost a year later, momentum is gaining.

Third Thursday is an opportunity for local business owners to build philanthropy into their business model and gives consumers the opportunity to not only support local businesses, but also support local philanthropic efforts.  must! charities’ operating budget is funded by Executive Board members, which means 100% of all community donations go directly into local programs.  And must! charities is not re-inventing the wheel – they are working alongside existing non-profits, creating long-term sustainable models to meet the needs of our local community.

To support Third Thursday and must! charities, follow them on Facebook and visit local downtown Paso Robles businesses participating on the Third Thursday of every month.

Dang, It’s Working

Lori Bickel is that mom we all know – the one who volunteers in the classroom, sells raffle tickets for team sports, plans school fundraisers, and chaperones Grad Night.  But what happens when the kids graduate, move ouLori Bickelt of the house, and lead their own lives?  After all, there is only so much walking, tennis, and cleaning, a mom can do with 20-year old grown kids.  Well, if you are Lori, you put the same can-do, will-do, do-it-all attitude finding an endeavor equally rewarding.  She had a lot of love to give and time on her hands once the kids flew the nest.  She also knew she was fortunate to have the opportunities, relationships, and experiences she had and it was her responsibility to pay it forward.  Philanthropy seemed to be a natural fit.

Lori spent years not only volunteering in her kids’ classrooms, but also working tirelessly in the public school system as a teacher’s aide and in after-school programs.  Having lived and worked locally, she is passionate about the North County and knew firsthand there were needs to be met.  So began her search for a philanthropic endeavor that met the needs of school-aged kids, empowering them to succeed but did so in a way that was organized, strategic, and thoughtful.

A chance conversation on a camping trip, led Lori to must! charities.  For Lori, must! charities had the foresight and planning to address systemic challenges with programs to provide long-term, lasting solutions.   Fast forward two years to Lori serving on the Executive Board at must! charities and remaining every bit as captivated by the cause.

When talking about the strides the Boys and Girls Club has made in the North County, Lori simply says, “Dang, it’s working.”  And she is right.  Since partnering with must! charities, the Boys and Girls Club in Paso Robles went from being on the brink of closing to being recognized as #2 in the nation for small rural clubs running under a $500k  budget.  must! charities’ initial investment has already generated over five times what was put in.  And now, they are in a position to expand to other parts of the county.  Dang, is right!

must! partners can be large and small wineries, local eateries, investment companies, realtors, or in Lori’s case, a community member who feels it is her responsibility to give back.