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February Client Spotlight: San Diego Parks Foundation

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San Diego Parks Foundation

San Diego Parks Foundation's (SDPF) Mission is simple; To improve the quality of life for communities throughout the city of San Diego through equitable investments in parks, greenspace, and recreational opportunities. They deliver this through a variety of programming, beautification and improvements where needed. Their focus is mainly on Communities of Concern.

Between all of SDPF's programs and events that run throughout the year at multiple recreation centers in conjunction with City of San Diego staff, they directly affect well over 100,000 people a year. If you include all the trees they have planted, playing fields and ball courts they have improved, the number is huge! San Diego is a city that is naturally meant to be outside playing and exploring -- we want to make sure everyone has that opportunity.

John Hinkin, Executive Director at SDPF, says if they were granted $1 million, that kind of money would have an almost immeasurable impact. "It could be broken down to X more meals could be offered or something tangible like that and it would be great," said Hinkin. But the true measure is the lasting impact the experiences they offer have on the children they focus on, for their lifetime. With more money their mission becomes more possible. One example is that they offer a multitude of enhancements at summer camps they put on with the City Parks & Rec. One of the camps they offer is an ocean fishing trip. Now it is not just as simple as a fishing trip. There are children that live in the City of San Diego that have never seen the ocean! That have never been to the beach. The emotional and overwhelming impact a trip like this could have on a child is the immeasurable impact John is talking about. To open the eyes of these children to the possibilities that are here within San Diego and beyond, to inspire these children to attend college or a trade school and to dream a dream, then show them how they can achieve that dream. Be it through one of the enhancements SDPF adds to a summer camp or having a student graduate from the Park Ambassador program and then find their calling. That is the immeasurable impact SDPF would have if granted more money.

John's favorite part of working with the Optima team is how they can simplify the complex work they do so everyone can understand. John's favorite part of his job is giving back to what gave him so much. Growing up, his neighborhood parks played a pivotal role in shaping his love of sports, friendships, and sense of community. John wants to make sure that every San Diegan has this same opportunity and with this position, the help of his wonderful Board of Directors, and the many community partners they have, this will be done. John has the ability to “play it forward” for generations to come.  

The opportunity to keep giving back to his community is what inspires John to keep going everyday. After John's athletic career as a professional rugby player, he had business development roles and successfully grew these companies. For the past 15 years, he was producing and operating national and international level sporting events. In 2022, he got hired as the Executive Director at SDPF. He likens the joy he saw in a packed stadium at one of his events to the joy he sees in the eyes and laughter of the kids at some of the San Diego Parks Foundation events.  

SDPF has events and programs happening throughout the year. John suggested going to the San Diego Parks Foundation calendar https://www.sandiegoparksfoundation.org/calendar and making sure everyone comes out to one of the events. John could talk all day about what they do and how they do it, but to get a sense of the impact they have, come to an event. See the smiles. Hear the laughter. Feel the joy. That is where they make their impact.


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