For Del Mar residents Mel and Linda Katz, giving back to the community has always been a priority and a passion. Their involvement has been lifelong in numerous organizations in their ongoing efforts to make an impact on San Diego’s most vulnerable populations, especially children. Now the couple has been chosen as honorary chairs for the San Diego Center for Children’s 132nd Anniversary Celebration: Cherishing the Joys of Childhood, which will be held May 11.
The Center serves children and teens struggling with mental, emotional and behavioral health challenges. Founded in 1887, it’s San Diego’s oldest children’s nonprofit organization. The Center has eight locations to provide community-based services within hundreds of homes and schools across the county. Its main campus is located at 3002 Armstrong Street.
“I first became aware of the San Diego Center for Children through my longstanding involvement with Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. Touring the campus, it’s hard not be passionate about their mission,” Linda explains. “The center not only provides the individualized services that a child may need, but their family also receives a level of holistic and compassionate care in order for the entire family to thrive.”
The couple has dedicated much of their lives to community causes. Mel has been a business and civic leader since moving to San Diego and he’s been involved in many education initiatives. He was a major public supporter of the living wage, minimum wage, earned sick leave and full voter participation measures. He’s also actively engaged on the boards of the San Diego Foundation, UC San Diego Foundation, e3 Civic High School, Rotary Foundation, San Diego County Water Authority and inewsource.
Linda is passionate about supporting vulnerable women and girls and is the founding president of the San Diego Women’s Foundation, co-founder of Women Give San Diego, and is also involved with Planned Parenthood. She’s actively engaged with MANA de San Diego, Women for Social Impact and United Women of East Africa Support Team. She’s served on the boards of LEAD San Diego, Serving Seniors, Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, United Way of San Diego County, Junior League of San Diego, Francis Parker School and the San Diego Symphony.
Mel grew up in New York until his family moved to Las Vegas when he was 14. He moved to Phoenix after graduating college to work in retail. Linda grew up in Arizona, and the two met in the retail business, working as buyers for Diamond’s Department Store in Phoenix. They moved to San Diego in 1977 and purchased the Manpower San Diego franchise with Phil and Catherine Blair.
“Both of us were raised in families that actively engaged as volunteers in our communities. It brings us great joy; we consider it a privilege to volunteer and share our gifts of time, talents and treasure for the betterment of our community,” says Linda.
Children remain a soft spot in both their hearts which is why they’ve dedicated so much of their time and talent to the San Diego Center for Children. “The Center for Children is inspiring a world where all children and families live joyful and healthy lives,” says Linda, “which is ultimately the success of our community.”
The Katzes are excited that Sundiata Kata, the Center’s music director, will be honored with the PATH Award at this year’s celebration. The PATH Award stands for Partners in Achieving Transformation and Hope, and recognizes those who have made an outstanding impact on the lives of children. Kata has established an array of creative and therapeutic music and arts programs during his 50 years with the Center, including Ukulele, Poetry, Drama Health Rhythms and Choir. These programs allow children and teens to discover talents they didn’t know they had, and to build confidence and self-reliance.
The Center for Children’s 132nd Anniversary Celebration: Cherishing the Joys of Childhood will take place on May 11 at Humphrey’s by the Bay on Shelter Island. Funds raised from the event will support the Center’s programs. The event will feature a special concert by internationally-renowned pianist and composer Matt Savage, a savant on the autism spectrum who started his career as a child prodigy. Guests will also be able to enjoy a performance by the Center’s Children’s Choir. To buy tickets or learn more about the event, go to www.centerforchildren.org/celebration.