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Meet Karen Moy of Hearts for San Diego in Tierrasanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Moy.

Karen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Hearts for San Diego is a project of love that started in 2014 as a tribute to my mother and father. In 1997, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat cancer and inspired me with her generous heart and charitable activities to help others battling cancer. In 2008, my dad passed away after a long battle with coronary heart disease. Around this time, my mom started showing signs of dementia and she is now in late stage Alzheimer’s. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness while watching these diseases take their toll on my parents was the catalyst to forming Hearts for San Diego.

Major life events such as these affect our hearts, our perseverance, and our faith. Many of us have a desire to do more, to give back and make this world a better place. I didn’t know where to begin but I needed to channel my energy somewhere. Alzheimer’s and heart disease were extremely important to me, but my dad was also a veteran, I wanted to support our environment, help the homeless, children and animals – the list continued to grow. Hearts for San Diego was an opportunity for me to combine my event planning background with charitable giving. Rather than focusing on one specific cause, I wanted to “spread the love” by supporting a variety of causes and giving back to our local nonprofits.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting a nonprofit is not easy. We are 100% volunteer-based, including myself. Operating and growing a nonprofit requires a plethora of specialized skills such as web design, accounting, marketing and social media to name a few. Finding long-term volunteers to take on the higher level roles is a never-ending challenge that all nonprofits face. Life happens and volunteers come and go. Although we strive to find the “best fit” for our volunteers that works with their skills, comfort level and availability, this takes time and patience. I feel extremely fortunate to have a solid core of dedicated team members but the need to expand our volunteer pool remains a constant challenge.

Hearts for San Diego – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Hearts for San Diego organizes FUNdraising events on behalf of our local nonprofits to raise awareness and support for their inspiring work while providing some much needed breathing room. Each event spotlights a different cause and local organization, and is designed to provide a fun, affordable, educational experience where attendees can learn about local organizations and the variety of ways they can contribute, all while having a great time and meeting people who share this passion.

We take great pride in our events and connecting community, causes, and companies that also want to contribute. Hearts for San Diego has been described as “the charity for charities”. We take care of every aspect required to execute the events from start to finish. Typically, we partner with newer nonprofits that need an extra boost getting off the ground, which allows us make a greater impact. Our mission has been well-received by the community as well as local businesses that also want to give back and raise their community giving profile through event sponsorship, vendor booths, and donations. One small gesture is all it takes to make a difference, and our mission is to share this information at each event to promote greater levels of giving in San Diego.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Everyone has their own definition of success. In 2001, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where I earned my Ph.D. in Public Health. Many would say I was successful because I had a Ph.D. I was working as an academic researcher and had a great track record as a grant writer, but I did not find it intrinsically rewarding and longed for a greater sense of fulfillment. For me, success is loving what you do and knowing you are making a difference in people’s lives. Hearts for San Diego has filled that void for me. I feel extremely fortunate to have found a job that I love that introduces me to so many inspiring individuals and allows me make a positive impact in our community.

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