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1 community connections Reinvesting in our diverse communities to improve lives 2008:1 Issue #43 Helping People Help Themselves SAN DIEGO NORTH COUNTY NONPROFIT ADDRESSES HOMELESSNESS Faye (left) and Teresa turned their lives around with Interfaith s help. It takes more than a bowl of soup to turn a life around. That was certainly the case for Faye and Teresa, two women with very different problems who both found themselves homeless. Faye, age 60, descended into alcoholism and despair after her middle-class marriage of 35 years collapsed, leaving her with nothing. Teresa, age 53, grew up in a dysfunctional family, married an abusive man, and found herself with a serious drug addiction and a very low opinion of herself. To get their lives back on track, Faye and Teresa needed a lot more than a soup kitchen. I n s i d e Fire Relief Continues 3 A Place for 21st-century Science 4 Reaching Out to Teach 6 Networking Solutions 7 They got a lot more from Interfaith Community Services, a nonsectarian, nonprofit social services agency in northern San Diego County that receives financial support from Union Bank of California. The two are residents of one of Interfaith s women s shelters, a 3,300-square-foot home for six in Escondido that is both a shelter and a healing retreat. In the shelter s safe, stable, nurturing environment, residents receive support and compassion from Interfaith s staff, in circumstances designed to help them develop independence and accountability as they work toward the goal of self-sufficiency. Rules, responsibilities, group meetings, and continued on page 2

2 Helping People Help Themselves continued from page 1 community connections Interfaith Community Services addresses the needs of low-income, homeless, and underserved people in northern San Diego County. Founded in 1979, the organization has evolved into a continuum of programs and services that help individuals in crisis stabilize and rebuild their lives. The five main areas of focus are basic needs, housing, counseling, employment services, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, each area composed of numerous programs covering a broad spectrum of support. Interfaith relies not only on public and corporate funding but on its professional staff; more than 3,200 volunteers in direct service; and 300 member faith centers. In 2007, this combined force came to the aid of 26,000 souls. Interfaith has been extolled by Columbia University and the University of Houston as national models for welfare reform and faith-based community development. is published three times a year to highlight Union Bank of California s commitment to the communities where it does business. Union Bank allocates 6.5 percent of its assets to Community Reinvestment Act related activities each year. Two percent of the company s after-tax net profit is donated to charitable causes. In addition, employee volunteers give thousands of hours of service to bank-sponsored events and nonprofit organizations. Send comments, inquiries, and requests for permission to reprint to: Andrew Rasanen, Editor and Communications Manager Phone: Public Relations and Government Affairs 400 California St., 17th Fl. San Francisco, CA Copyright 2008 Union Bank of California Design: Alterpop, San Francisco life-skills workshops help them acquire the tools for success before they move into permanent housing. A resident manager lives on-site. Chemical dependency is the number-one public health problem in our country, says Suzanne Pohlman, Interfaith s executive director. Heavy drinking is related to depression and anxiety especially among women, who experience more long-term effects than men. Yet there are too few resources available, particularly for older women. We strive to fill that need with quality residential care and a selfhelp approach. The Escondido home exists in part because of a special loan from Union Bank known as an Equal Opportunity Mortgage (EOM), which is geared to borrowers with modest incomes. A second EOMfunded project is a seven-bedroom Interfaith home in San Marcos for men struggling with mental health issues. The San Marcos home will be the first shelter in the state to implement a recovery model known as the Fairweather Lodge, a program for mentally ill adults that involves them in their own treatment. Residents will come from transitional housing programs and other facilities. At San Marcos, they will benefit from permanent housing in a safe and supported environment and will have recovery enhancements not available in other programs, such as a private room and the opportunity for supported employment. Residents staff a small business, such as a janitorial service or paper-shredding service, which provides part-time employment and helps generate income to support the program. It also empowers participants to make decisions with relative autonomy, not only in running their business, but in paying bills and purchasing groceries. Each resident has specific responsibilities. Fairweather Lodges have flourished in the Midwest, where residents have gained increased self-sufficiency, avoided rehospitalization, and avoided returning to homelessness. Interfaith plans to open additional Fairweather Lodges in North County and hopes they will provide best-practice models for independent living for mentally ill adults that other agencies and organizations throughout the county can replicate. Equal opportunity The Equal Opportunity Mortgages funding the Escondido and San Marcos shelters are discounted-rate loans available to low- to middle-income borrowers, a category that includes nonprofits, and applicants who live in qualifying census tracts. Standard terms include no finance charges and low fees. The bank has supported Interfaith since 2004 with grants from the Union Bank of California Foundation, all geared toward housing. Over the years, Pohlman kept open a line of communication about possible other forms of assistance. In mid-2007, she met with Union Bank s Kathy Patoff, a community development officer, and asked if the bank could help provide immediate financing for two properties Escondido and San Marcos. 2

3 Patoff made a referral to her Business Banking colleagues, who promptly contacted Interfaith s financial officer to review the organization s finances and the property information. The potential transaction was handed off to Dawn DuCharme, a vice president and mortgage consultant in the bank s Residential Lending department. Interfaith qualified for Equal Opportunity Mortgages except for one requirement, that the properties be owneroccupied. DuCharme sought and received approval to waive the requirement for the two shelters, and Interfaith was in business. The Escondido shelter received a $500,000 EOM, while the San Marcos EOM is for $440,000. Both mortgages are special CRA loans with 30-year fixed rates of percent and no lender fees. The way these mortgages came about is a perfect example of the partnership between Union Bank and the community and between different departments in the bank, says DuCharme. Interfaith performs critical, successful work improving the lives of underserved San Diegans and has built excellent partnerships to help accomplish their mission. We re proud to be one of their partners. As for the direct beneficiaries of Interfaith s work, Faye s testimony may be representative. I ve been in and out of many programs, the resident of the Escondido women s shelter says. It s such a comfort to get up and know that I m in a safe place and that I have another chance at life. I ve learned a lot about myself, and I have hopes that life will only improve from here. Fire Relief Continues October 23, Satellite photo shows smoke from the fires extending hundreds of miles into the Pacific Ocean. Image courtesy NASA. In San Diego County, the worst-hit area, the October 2007 California wildfires severely disrupted the lives of thousands of people, but rural areas and farmers were disproportionately affected. Crop losses are projected to top $42.6 million, including avocado trees (1,700 acres lost), ornamental trees, and cutting flowers. When farmers lose their farms, it can take three to five years before the replanting process restores their livelihood. Among the facets of personal income affected is a farmer s ability to send his or her children to college. Union Bank and the Farm Bureau of San Diego County are committed to helping students from farm families and farmworker families to attend college despite the loss of family income. In January the bank s philanthropic foundation made a $25,000 donation to San Diego Ag in the Classroom, an education and scholarship program administered by the Farm Bureau. Children from farm families affected by the fires and children of farmworkers laid off because of the fires are eligible to receive funds between the school years of 2008 and 2013, as long as the money lasts. Recipients do not have to be enrolled in agricultural courses of study. San Diego County s farm community was hit harder than any other business sector, says Union Bank s retail market president Joe Benoit. We hope to help provide a safety net for those families whose livelihood was affected and who have a long recovery ahead. The 2007 California wildfires burned more than half a million acres, destroyed almost 1,700 homes and almost the same number of other structures, killed people and livestock, and resulted in close to one million Californians being placed under evacuation orders. Home and property loss or damage affected hundreds of thousands of people. The emergency required swift response in the form of charitable donations. The Union Bank of California Foundation made an immediate commitment of $200,000 to various relief organizations, followed by another $100,000 to the Red Cross from the bank s majority shareholder, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Union Bank s foundation made its first grant of $10,000 during the week of the fires to 211 San Diego, the 24-hour community information phone line that was heavily used during the disaster. 3

4 A Place for 21st-century Science Organization: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Mission: Explore, explain, and protect the natural world UBOC grant: $100,000 in operating support years as need arose. In 2004 exhibits were moved to temporary quarters in San Francisco before construction began on the new building. Now temporarily closed, the Academy is engaged in a Great Migration moving thousands of live animals and millions of research specimens back to Golden Gate Park. The new Academy of Sciences building under construction There s one place where you soon will be able to visit a planetarium, a tropical rainforest, and a living coral reef in the same day the new building of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco s Golden Gate Park. The building, which is expected to open in the fall of 2008, also features aquariums, traditional dioramas of African wildlife, laboratories and classrooms, and a gently rolling living roof of native California plants and wildflowers that will provide a habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies. The living roof is the most conspicuous environmental feature of world-renowned architect Renzo Piano s design. Its unique conservation systems will prevent storm-water runoff and vent cool air into the building while drawing hot air out. A grid of solar panels rimming the roof will provide electricity. Natural light through skylights will illuminate the interior and sustain the coral reef. Despite encompassing 130,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, the energy-efficient, sustainable building actually returns an acre of green space to the surrounding park. Features like these qualify the new Academy for a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be one of only a few buildings in the United States to earn that rating, and the largest platinum-rated public building in the world. It places San Francisco at the frontier of environmental architecture and sustainable design. The new building s environmental innovations, along with the Academy s public programs that cultivate scientific literacy, made us eager to provide financial support, says Carl Ballton, president of the Union Bank of California Foundation. This is a place that will educate and delight visitors for generations to come. Founded in 1853, the nonprofit California Academy of Sciences previously was housed in a medley of wings erected over the Exhibit highlights Planetarium with a 90-foot-diameter dome and state-of-theart digital projection system Rainforest inside a second dome, with a spiraling pathway through three distinct levels featuring living animals native to Borneo, Madagascar, and Costa Rica, including free-flying birds and butterflies Amazon Flooded Forest a 100,000-gallon tank with a submerged acrylic tube through which visitors can gaze up to the Rainforest exhibit above Philippine coral reef in a 25-foot-deep aquarium the world s deepest indoor coral reef ecosystem using piped-in filtered Pacific Ocean water Swamp with snapping turtles and a rare white alligator Altered State: California and Climate Change, showcasing the state s biodiversity and how climate change is transforming natural habitats California Coast 100,000-gallon tank containing sealife characteristic of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Observation Terrace an open-air platform where visitors can view the building s Living Roof through the seasons The Foucault Pendulum, which proves that Earth rotates; while the pendulum seems to change its path over the course of a day, it is the Academy s floor (the planet) that is actually rotating Tusher Africa Center traditional dioramas and live penguins For more information, visit newacademy/index.php. Education and research The Academy is an international center for scientific education and research at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect Earth s biodiversity. The Academy has a large staff of professional educators and scientists; research and field associates; and fellows receiving professional training. Scientific departments conduct research in anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology and geology, and ornithology and mammalogy. The Academy s research collections, which are among the world s largest, include more than 20 million specimens essential tools for comparative studies on the history and future of the natural world. 4

5 Literacy Lifeline Mission Learning Center educates families Literacy is about more than just learning to read. Just ask a young mother named Maria, a recent immigrant from Mexico. Maria was sharing a single unfurnished room with her unemployed husband and two young daughters, with a third child on the way. The family slept on a single mattress on the floor and had a hard time feeding and clothing themselves. Their situation was precarious, until Maria found the Mission Learning Center (MLC), a San Francisco nonprofit that provides literacy education and workshops to children up to age 11 and their families. MLC helped Maria s family find an array of community resources that helped them obtain furniture, food, clothing, and some toys for their children. Now the little girls have their own bed, and a crib was ready when the new baby arrived. Maria also receives a weekly provision of food. This assistance had nothing to do with literacy per se, but MLC recognizes that without a stable foundation from which to develop, at-risk families may continue to flounder, often in isolation. Parents need support to help nourish the growth and development of all family members. MLC s Parent Program, which encourages parents to enroll their children in preschool as soon as possible, helped Maria s 3½-year-old daughter find a school. Maria is actively involved in her child s education. MLC also encouraged Maria to get a library card and taught her ways to support her children s literacy skills. Family members now read together every day and are regular library users. Maria also is currently attending a program for parents with children under the age of five. While reading is the vehicle, what we really teach is a life-long passion for learning, says MLC s executive director, Natalie Diggins. Many academic problems begin before children enter school, especially in conditions of poverty. We believe that early literacy helps our clients develop the skills required to attain personal and economic freedoms. MLC receives support from Union Bank of California, where education is one of the primary areas of the bank s community reinvestment activities. Support for MLC takes two forms: ongoing grants from the bank s philanthropic foundation and the bank s participation in the California Economic Development Initiative (CEDLI), which it helped found. CEDLI is a multibank corporation that provides investment capital to small businesses and community organizations throughout California. CEDLI established a line of credit for MLC through the lender s Working Capital Initiative for Community Needs. The initiative provides affordable short-term working capital for qualified, eligible nonprofit organizations operating in the child-care and health fields to address their shortterm cash-flow needs. Support from both Union Bank and CEDLI goes to pay the salaries of MLC teachers, teachers aides, parent educators, and administrative staff. Founded in 1972, Mission Learning Center provides early literacy services for students up to 11 years old, especially in San Francisco s heavily Latino Mission District. Literacy instruction is provided at MLC quarters and at a school site by trained, qualified staff. On average, students improve their reading skills by two grade levels in seven months. Child-focused programs are balanced by the organization s Parent Empowerment Project, which includes family literacy activities, parent workshops, and an emphasis on school readiness and early literacy. In 1999, MLC spearheaded the first annual celebration of Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, a one-day festival that promotes early literacy and quality children s literature. The event includes performances by children s arts organizations and professional storytellers. In 2007, members of MLC s Parent Empowerment Project led interactive literacy activities for nearly 800 children and their parents. Mission Learning Center s efforts had come full circle. MLC children play with an affirmation web, making positive statements about each other in an exercise that builds community spirit. 5

6 profile Reaching Out to Teach Jason Bowser helps kids Name: Jason Bowser Office: Clairemont Branch Volunteer Activities: YMCA, Golfers for Freedom, Habitat for Humanity, Miles Ahead Mentorship Philosophy: It s enjoyable. Jason Bowser and friends When Jason Bowser was in college, he coached younger students, majored in social science, and planned for a career in teaching. It was a passion when I was growing up, he says. While he was still in school, he took a job as a part-time teller at Union Bank of California, and now, 12 years later, he is the manager of Union Bank s large Clairemont branch in San Diego, where he manages a staff of 30. But he still has a passion for teaching, and his volunteer work is often centered on ways to help children. For a number of years, I coached youth basketball and youth sports with the YMCA, says Bowser, who serves on the board of directors for the Mission Valley YMCA. I grew up going to the YMCA, so this is very rewarding to me. It s been a lifetime involvement. Now my daughter goes to the Y for swim lessons, for gymnastics, for dance classes. I also visit a couple of different elementary schools for the YMCA and talk with the kids about economics and various financial professions. Children get a lot of guidance on educational issues in school, but not on careers. We bring in police officers and firefighters and spend half a day with the students, talking about different careers. With Golfers for Freedom, we raise money year-round for families who have lost someone through the war in Iraq. Bowser grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in Orange County, where he earned a bachelor s degree in social science with an emphasis in organizational leadership. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter. While he was at Chapman University, he was part of the founding class that helped establish the Greater San Diego Leadership Initiative, which trains and educates San Diego s nonprofit, business, and civic leaders. His current volunteer activities include serving on the boards of directors of Golfers for Freedom, the San Diego Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and the Miles Ahead Mentorship program, which helps bring schoolchildren together with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and other mentorship programs. With Golfers for Freedom, we raise money yearround for families who have lost someone through the war in Iraq, Bowser says. We send sporting equipment to soldiers in Iraq. We ve sent over about two dozen sets of golf clubs, and numerous baseballs and footballs. During their free time, there s not a lot to do and they make some of their own golf courses. The group also provides gifts during the holiday season to kids who have lost a parent in the war. It s a really emotional time, Bowser says. A lot of these children are really young, and I don t think they ve even grasped the magnitude of it. Bowser has done much volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, including sitting on the board that selects which families will get a Habitat home they help build themselves. But he finds the most rewarding thing is getting outdoors and helping with the construction. I feel like I m giving something back more than when I m just donating money, Bowser says. It s better to get out there and hammer nails than to just sit at a desk and write a check as important as that is. Why does he volunteer? I believe it s our responsibility to help other people, says Jason Bowser. The thing I like about Union Bank is that the company gives us a chance to do that. It s enjoyable. As for volunteering with children it truly makes kids happy when you can spend some time with them. 6

7 Networking Solutions Teamwork, community relationships, and a little help from a corporate partner along the way are some of the factors that made a difference for Luis Alvarez. What started as a one-man business in the basement of his house in Monterey County has grown into a leading provider of information technology products and services for businesses. Luis Alvarez Alvarez founded Alvarez Technology Group (ATG) in 2001 with the goal of providing world-class IT services to small and mid-sized businesses that don t have the scope for in-house support. For our customers, we re not just their IT department, we re the IT department they could never afford to hire, says Alvarez. From their office in Salinas, Alvarez and his 13 employees now manage a diverse group of more than 100 clients from Walnut Creek to Santa Barbara. I had a vision of what it would take to help small businesses get the most from their IT investments, and I wanted to execute that vision, says Alvarez. The company has since found success in targeting a unique market niche businesses that have experienced poor IT support in the past. We focus on the unfortunate 10,000 instead of the Fortune 100, quips Alvarez. We ensure that their technology infrastructure is a critical success factor rather than an obstacle. Alvarez s own journey to success received a boost from Union Bank of California when he was awarded one of the bank s annual scholarships to attend Management Development for Entrepreneurs, a course offered by The Anderson School at UCLA. The bank s scholarships are geared for ethnically diverse vendors as a means of helping to level the playing field. The Anderson School is one of the nation s top-tier graduate business schools. Rather than focusing on theory or business models, the course requires participants already high-performing entrepreneurs to develop a business improvement plan (BIP) that can have an immediate practical impact. The experience was one of the most rewarding of my professional career, says Alvarez. Not only did I complete my BIP, it had definitive benefits, helping us improve a significant part of our business by over one hundred percent. ATG has remained profitable each year, and Alvarez has been able to reward his employees for their contributions. In the face of spiraling costs, ATG continues to provide top-level benefits to its employees, including company-paid medical insurance, a 401(k) with company match, and tuition reimbursement for continuing education. ATG is also passionate about giving back to its community. The company allows its employees to take time off from work to support worthy causes; it has discounted rates for nonprofits; and it donates money to local nonprofits such as the American Cancer Society and Salinas Rotary. Alvarez is proud of the fact that he and his team have been able to achieve continued growth. He believes the key to his success has been his partnerships with his team, his customers, and vendors. Our success as a company depends entirely on the relationships we build with the people around us, he says. The Gift of Giving Employees donate holiday toys This past Christmas, 50 Union Bank of California employees in the company s Corporate Training & Development department decided to forgo the usual gift exchange among themselves. Instead, they looked around for a charity whose holiday they could help brighten. Lydia Mendoza, branch manager of the bank s Arlington office in Riverside, recommended Arlington Temporary Assistance. ATA provides emergency food, clothing, information, and referral services to homeless and low-income individuals and families. The nonprofit distributed 150 food baskets to needy families in the Riverside area during the holidays. At their holiday luncheon, which was held in Riverside, Corporate Training & Development staff brought more than 150 toys to be included in the food baskets. This year many of us felt that since we are so fortunate to have employment and a roof over our heads, we wanted to give to people who are less fortunate, says Pamela Worrell, a vice president and senior training instructor at the bank. Kids need toys. Helping with donations are (front, l. to r.) UBOC s Lydia Mendoza, ATA s program director Ofelia Sanchez, and (rear, l. to r.) UBOC s director of Human Resources Paul Fearer, UBOC s manager of Corporate Training & Development Bob Hack, and ATA president Raymond Aguirre 7

8 Memory Walk Employees Raise Money for Alzheimer s Association On November 4, some 21 Union Bank of California employees and family members participated in the Memory Walk in downtown Los Angeles, raising more than $1,500 for the Alzheimer s Association. The team s goal for this first year of participation had been 15 walkers and $1,000 in contributions. The two-mile route began and ended at the Watercourt at California Plaza, 350 South Grand Avenue. The event featured live music, a health fair, food and drink, and booths and freebies that helped create a festive atmosphere. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended, as well as celebrities including actors Brian Cranston (the father in Malcolm in the Middle) and Peter Gallagher and local television talk-show host Steve Edwards. I walked because I know that Alzheimer s affects all of us in one way or another, says team captain Carl Dziuk, vice president in E-Commerce. Research is vital if we are to ensure quality of life for those who come down with Alzheimer s. The Alzheimer s Association is excited to see how we can get more involved, which I hope will mean more Union Bank walkers and more donations next year. Carl Dziuk (far left) and some of the walkers The Alzheimer s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer s care support and research. Memory Walk, held every year since 1989, supports the association s mission to eliminate Alzheimer s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. College Daze Students learn financial literacy 8 University administrators say they lose more students to the burden of credit card debt than to academic failure. Education and economic self-sufficiency both suffer. Union Bank of California s commitment to financial literacy encompasses everyone from low-income potential homeowners to underserved and unbanked residents of the urban core to children. The bank s outreach also includes college students. A financial literacy workshop at the University of California, Berkeley, last fall is typical. Posters in the school s student center announced the two-hour evening meeting, which promised to explain financial terminology, offer tips on saving, and show students how to build and repair credit. Request cards available at the start enabled the approximately 40 participants to ask for specific topics to be discussed. Many also wanted individual help with basic budgeting, says Fulgence Dulay, the Berkeley branch manager Union Bank s Fulgence Dulay teaches money management to Cal Berkeley students who presented the workshop. Most of them had part-time jobs and credit cards and are vigorous spenders, but many of them weren t aware of the cost of this credit, including the annual percentage rate charged or the amount of time it would take to pay off revolving balances with only minimum monthly payments. We shed a lot of light and covered a lot of ground during the nonstop two-hour meeting. Dulay had an additional focus for the workshop. I wanted these young people to meet and interact with a banker who is committed to service and to learn how banks may benefit them. By moving beyond stereotypes and misconceptions, they re better able to understand basic bank products and services and their value. I was not there, he emphasizes, only to advertise Union Bank. He must have accomplished his mission. Post-session feedback cards indicated that the students wanted more. Dulay scheduled a second workshop for early Printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks

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