Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura White.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am a San Diego native who grew up in Carlsbad. I went to college at Chico State, north of Sacramento, and spent some time in Lake Tahoe and the Bay Area after graduation. I moved to San Clemente for four years and in 2004 found myself back in San Diego, a few years into my career in fundraising for non-profits.
In college, I interned with an organization helping adults with disabilities find friendship circles and employment opportunities. I enjoyed the work and after one year in advertising after graduation decided to switch gears, landing a job as an executive assistant at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Costa Mesa. It was the beginning of a career giving back to under-served individuals in San Diego, my hometown.
Over the next 15 years I worked at Casa de Ampro, TERI Inc., Monarch School, La Jolla Country Day School and in 2016 joined Support the Enlisted Project team as their Development Director. It has been an incredible journey, meeting so many friends and mentors along the way. And experiencing first hand the generosity within our community is inspiring.
I got engaged in Sedona, AZ last July and am marrying Matt Ludvik this September.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a relatively smooth road. The world of fundraising has its challenges as an industry. Every organization I have worked for struggles with similar issues – an insatiable need for funds, high turn over due to low pay and benefits and an often misunderstanding of the role a development officer plays. And sometimes really passionate people, committed to making a difference, do not always know when it’s time to turn the reigns over to the next generation. One of my personal goals is to help those interested in this industry to not make my same mistakes if possible. Mentoring is an absolute joy to me. So is being mentored!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
STEP is a very unique non-profit, providing a program that is really un-duplicated in Southern California. And it’s just one program – Emergency Financial Assistance.
The programs was created from the idea that we want to support those families who are sacrificing so much for us. Most civilians are unaware of the challenges enlisted military families face, and how those challenges can snowball into a financial crisis and the loss of a basic need. High spousal unemployment, wages considered low-income (or even below HUD poverty levels), relocation’s to expensive areas like Southern California and often a lack of basic financial skills leads to a domino effect with no way out. That’s where we step in.
We specifically work with the lowest pay-grades (E1-E6) and those transitioning out up to 18 months with a documented imminent loss of a basic need – housing, utilities, food, etc. Once they have applied and qualified, the service member is assigned a case worker who walks through their current financial situation and what the best plan will be moving forward. Of course, that sounds great, but if your lights are already turned off and there is no heat in the home, moving forward can be tough.
Since 2012 we have granted over $1.4 million to stop the loss of a basic need. We are coming up on stopping our 400th eviction. The program takes a two-pronged approach – how do we stop the immediate crisis and how do we set this family up to succeed financially. What tools and skills can we give them to put them on a path to financial self-sufficiency.
The programs works – 91% of the nearly 3,000 service members who’ve completed the program have not returned for additional help. 88% report a decrease in stress and increase in financial stability. They are responsible for getting their arms around the situation and STEP is there to help them along the way.
STEP is 100% funded by the community.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I absolutely love San Diego. I did not move back until I was 27 and really have spent 15 years discovering all of the different neighborhoods and incredible natural settings.
Nothing beats the ocean. Growing up in Carlsbad 1.5 miles from the beach, and as a Junior Lifeguarder, I definitely took it for granted. I remember meeting people in college who had never seen the ocean and I was blown away.
Paying for that beauty can be tough. Especially if you are an HGTV fan like myself and watch people remodel huge homes with a $200,000 budget. But I’d say in the end, the mountains and deserts in the east and the ocean to the west, make every last mortgage payment worth it.
- Address: 9951 Business Park Ave. Suite A
San Diego, CA 92131
- Website: stepsocal.org
- Phone: 858-695-6810
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @stepsocal
- Facebook: @stepsocal
- Twitter: @stepsocal