Written by Michelle Botello
As I strolled on this pleasant warm sunny day up the steep sidewalk where Paseo Delicias and Via de Santa Fe meet I longed for a charming evening. Taking a left and after a short walk, valets stood around awaiting for the next car to park. Immediately behind them, a brick-laid walkway led up to a hidden agenda.
Behind the bushes and trees opened up the Rotary Club’s 7th Annual Taste of Rancho Santa Fe. Over hundreds of people were all here to indulge in the wine, and treats brought by local restaurants. There were around a dozen beneficiaries at the event that were an asset to the cause, and ConnectMed, being one of them, shared some insight with us.
Rita Albert, 48, Executive Director of ConnectMed International. “We contribute by bringing in some auction items and bringing in guests.” Albert was a member of the Rotary Club and said, “The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary is a wonderful group of people in the area who really work hard all year to put together this event, as you can imagine, this is not easy to put together, requires a lot of coordination from selecting the beneficiaries to, you know, getting all the vendors together.”
Rita feels proud of being a part of the event this year and has planned the event as a member of the Rotary Club in the past and gives so much respect to all the hard work that benefits her and the others.
She said, “ConnectMed is a non-profit organization based here in San Diego where the president is Dr. Amanda Guzman, Chief of Plastic Surgery at UCSD and Rady’s. She is the founder and one of my long time friends and what ConnectMed International does is we partner with health care specialists providers working in resource-limited communities around the world and we partner with them in order to help provide surgical and medical care for their patients with cranial-facial differences, burns, and traumatic injuries.”
The program offers the same care over the border. She said “That has been one of our longest running programs. We work with a clinic in Tijuana called Cer Clinic and four or five times a year we bring a team down there and we work with a team of Mexican surgeons, nurses, and specialists.”
Albert said that a thought that makes her feel good about ConnectMed is,”We don’t believe in just flying in and flying out...we try to establish long-term relationships with the local providers so we can provide sustainable care and strengthen the local health care infrastructure.”
The trees served a place for shade from the hot-piping sun. I took shelter and invited Amanda Guzman, 47, Chief of Plastic Surgery at UCSD and at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. She said, “I think with ConnectMed, since we’re very focused on building capacity and investing in education, my position with the University is very helpful because we can share resources and participate in collaborative efforts to try to improve access to surgical care for people around the world.”
I asked her thoughts on the moment, she said, “The event’s fabulous. I mean, what could be better! As always it’s a beautiful day, delicious food, amazing wine, and you get to talk to interesting people, so we’re really grateful to be here today.”
For further contact go to [email protected],
The most appealing table looked like a bath spa but as I approached, I discovered a totally different theme. Kira Upsold, 18, assistant CEO, said her aunt owns the company. She said, “I’m just getting into business because I’m studying International Business next semester. I wanna see how she’s starting the business.” Her aunt is Alisa Marie Beyer and she’s CEO of Spa Girl Cocktails with the logo ‘Life’s Too Short For Ordinary Cocktails.’
Beyer founded the company in Palm Springs but has recently relocated and is distributing everything to San Diego, and will spread from Southern California to Nevada.
Upsold said, “We have two ready to drink vodka martinis. We have cucumber and pear flavor, and they’re ready to drink on-the-go vodka martinis. They’re low-calorie, glutten-free, and 33 percent proof.” The cost is close to $19.99 a bottle and is all natural flavors.
I asked her if she liked the event. She said, “I love it. The weather’s great, food smells great, people are great, it’s awesome.” You can find a bottle at Vons.
For recipes visit SpaGirlCocktails.com
TeamAlstonTravel talked about their participation at the event. Sandra Alston, 57, owner, said, “We’re a full-service leisure travel company, so we are donating a 500 dollar gift card to help promote Solutions For Change...any travel booked at this event we make a donation to Solutions For Change.””We work with a lot of various non-profits to help give back to our community, so we love working with non-profits too.”
She said, “Anyone who wants to contact us by booking travel and helping benefit their non-profit, we love working with them. We’re personal travel assistants so we help people with their full trip.”
“We work with Mitchell Thorp Foundation, Operation Hope, Carlsbad High School Band Program, Kids for Peace, and many different non-profits.” I placed the focus on the event and asked Alston her thoughts. She said, “This is a great event that benefits so many amazing non-profits and we’re very excited to be here to help people enjoy travel.” She also loves the sun, the food, and the wine. “It’s a perfect day.” This is her first year at this event.
For bookings go to www.TeamAlstonTravel.com or call (760)814-2123
The spay neuter action project saves animals from overpopulating the streets and as a result, being euthanized.
Dorell Sackett, 52, is the Director of SNAP, which is a non-profit in San Diego County. “We provide low-cost spay neuter throughout the county for low-income pet owners.” So far the project has processed 65,000 dogs, cats, and rabbits. This minimizes the number of offspring born on the streets, and filling up the shelters.
Without a doubt, what happened next was something that saved the lives of many more animals.
A circle of women had a solution to this horrible tragedy.
“There was a group of women who volunteered at the municipal shelter in San Diego, and this is back in the 1990’s when euthanization rates were extremely high and the animals were put to death every single day.”
Organizations like SNAP have changed the rate of animals living in the streets, and changes are evident. They do 15-20 clinics per month and fix 23-30 animals per day. Sackett said, “More people are micro-chipping ,more people are using social media to find the pets that are lost but still animals are being euthanized.”
How free is it exactly? “Noone’s ever turned away for the inability to pay, but we do ask for a nominal fee ...we are a medical team that is required by the state to be employees, so we have to pay our staff.”
Their ride, the neuter scooter is a long bus and serves as a mobile clinic. SNAP is currently raising funds for a second scooter. The scooter 1 will be in North County and through the Indian reservations. Scooter 2 will stay in South Bay, East County, and San Diego.
“We are different from a rescue because we are not just rescuing dogs, our mission is providing a spay neuter service which is decreasing the unwanted animals that are ending up in the rescue.” For info on their foster program go to www.snap-sandiego.org
As I was leaving I considered that everyone seemed to be there for one purpose, to share this beautiful day. As I passed the valets on the way out I was sent off by kind women. Today, will be memorable and unforgettable.