Saturday, April 20, 2024

FOCUS Celebrates San Diego Military

Submitted by Carolyn Rogerson

3/23/22 FOCUS Salute to the Military event attendees. Submitted photo

Friends of Children United Society, FOCUS, is celebrating 40 years of answering the call to provide for needy children in San Diego County. Thousands of children and over a hundred charities have benefited from the generosity of FOCUS volunteers. On March 23, 2022, FOCUS honored six of their partner Military Agency organizations that support the needs of military children and families.

I Bar at North Island. Submitted photo

Happy Hour at the famous I Bar on Navy Base Coronado, North Island was the scene of 126 FOCUS members and guests who came to meet the representatives of the Military Agencies that FOCUS supports. This wonderful event was planned by FOCUS President, Pat Robitaille and Treasurer (and retired Navy Captain) Sharon Shelton. Ms. Robitaille welcomed guests and paid tribute to the veterans whom attendees honored for their lifetime services. She further explained that the breadth of FOCUS support goes beyond Military to Literacy, Well-being, Education, Safe Housing, Foster Care and Rehabilitation. Sharon Shelton did an outstanding job introducing the military agencies and members, and keeping things rolling smoothly.

FOCUS President Pat Robitaille at podium, Treasurer Sharon Shelton next to banner at Salute to the Military at the I Bar, North Island 3/23/22. Submitted photo.

United Through Reading was represented by CEO Sally Ann Zoll, Ed.D. Ms. Zoll explained that while on deployment, parents record a video of themselves reading a book to their children at home. Children get to enjoy daddy or mommy reading to them over and over, and over again. This helps the service member maintain a relationship and presence in their children’s lives while on deployment. More than 2.7 million families have been served via the video reading program and 50,000 books have been delivered to military families, much donated by FOCUS.

Armed Services YMCA of San Diego is celebrating 100 years of strengthening military families. Tim Ney, CEO of ASYMCA San Diego, spoke of the fact that San Diego is home to the country’s largest population of military families. When one family member serves, the whole family serves. These families are helped through the Armed Services YMCA One Team One Goal attitude with FOCUS.

The Foundation for Women Warriors has been aiding military women for 102 years. Ms. Shaeli Chapman, Community Engagement Coordinator, explained their mission is to empower women with transitioning, networking, childcare, housing, mental and physical health, access to scholarships and internships. Providing supplies of ever sort to these women in need is frequently in partnership with FOCUS.

San Diego Military Outreach Ministries (SDMOM) Director of Operations, Ms. Barbara Chavez explained SDMOM’s mission is to serve the underserved population of junior enlisted military in San Diego County. Distribution of food, household items, children’s clothing and supply needs along with backpack drives and holiday events is greatly supported by FOCUS.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) begun in 1904 was represented by Captain Julie Webb, SC USN (ret) Chief of Volunteers. Their mission is to provide much needed services to active duty and retired Sailors and Marines and their families, in the United States and around the world. A wide variety of health, financial, emotional and product needs for the families are supported with FOCUS aid.

STEP, Support the Enlisted Project started in 2012, has provided essentials like food and baby diapers to help stretch those enlisted military paychecks from one to the next. 90% of families have completed STEP’s EFA – Emergency Financial Education program helping to improve their long term financial well-being. STEP has, to date, prevented 510 in-process evictions. FOCUS supports this fledgling organization with much needed items for young military families.

FOCUS was founded forty years ago by a small group of highly motivated Coronado women who realized there was a vital need to assist San Diego County children and families in need. For 40 years, FOCUS, an all volunteer organization, has assisted and supported well over 120 charities and many thousands of children and families. Traditionally, FOCUS shops for and provides tangible items for these families. This year in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary Ruby Gala celebration, FOCUS will award a special in-kind Grant of $40,000. The chosen nonprofit will be selected in April and announced at the RUBY Gala on May 15, 2022.

A very elegant Anniversary evening is planned to celebrate FOCUS at FORTY! The Ruby Gala, chaired by all volunteer FOCUS members lead by Lisa Alves, will include a special RUBY cocktail, plated dinner, open wine & beer bar, music provided by the seven-piece band Pop Vinyl, silent and live auction – with an opportunity to bid on RUBIES! General tickets and tables of eight are at presale now through April 15th. The VIP tickets and tables of eight, which will include extras such as valet parking are also available presale until April 15, 2022. Please visit FOCUS website for more information and purchase at, Come join FOCUS for a joyous evening celebrating Charity, Community and Friendship.

Pat Robitaille, President
Denise Donato-McConnell
Lisa Alves, Gala Chairwoman

Submitted by Carolyn Rogerson

FOCUS 40 Year banner. Submitted photo

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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