By Kristina Houck
From preserving the San Dieguito Lagoon, to providing services to seniors, Nancy Weare has worked to enrich Del Mar and the greater San Diego region since she moved to the coastal community in 1969.
Recently named one of 78th Assembly District’s 2014 “Women of the Year” by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Weare’s more than four decades of service will be celebrated during a reception March 28 at the State of California office building in San Diego.
“It is so nice. I didn’t expect it,” said Weare, a semi-retired senior research chemist at UC San Diego. “It feels really nice when other people appreciate your work.”
With a desire to create a sense of community and offer services to seniors and people with special needs, Weare founded Del Mar Community Connections in 1999. From educational and social activities, to in-home care management consultations and transportation services, the volunteer-driven organization offers a variety of programs for community members.
“It’s grown and grown,” Weare said. “We’re very much supported by the city.”
A Connecticut-based senior center inspired Weare to form DMCC. After her father’s death, the center sent a counselor to help Weare and her family cope with their loss.
“I realized we didn’t have anything like that in Del Mar,” Weare said. “There may have been in San Diego, but we were a little hole in the area with a lot of people who could definitely have used the help.”
Almost 21 percent of Del Mar residents are 65 or older, according to the 2010 census. The growth of DMCC has proved the city’s sizable senior population needs the organization’s services.
Located in the Del Mar Community Building at 225 Ninth St., DMCC has grown from a handful of founding members to two staff members, 15 board members and dozens of volunteers.
“There have been a lot of people who have been of great help and continue to be,” Weare said. “I think this will be a long-term program in the city.”
Weare has been involved in the community since she and her husband first moved to Del Mar.
In the early 1970s, Weare and other concerned residents began drafting a plan to preserve and restore the San Dieguito Lagoon. The group officially established the San Dieguito Lagoon Committee in 1974 to prepare a plan to protect, revitalize and manage the lagoon ecosystem in anticipation of the California Coastal Act.
The San Dieguito Lagoon — which was recommended for top priority acquisition by the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — was defined by the California Coastal Commission as a sensitive resource area worthy of special protection under the California Coastal Act when it was enacted in 1976.
“I always loved nature. I couldn’t just let the lagoon go,” said Weare, who added that the committee developed the San Dieguito Lagoon Enhancement program, which the city adopted in 1979.
“But you don’t do anything by yourself. I love Del Mar because the people here are so active. You can get them excited; you can get them to work hard. You can’t do it without the support of many, many people.”
Recognizing that the lagoon couldn’t ultimately be saved without preserving the river valley, Weare and her fellow advocates went a step further and formed the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy in 1986. She served as the first president of the nonprofit organization, which raises funds to acquire land along the river valley through grants, donations and mitigation.
The conservancy, along with the committee and the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, encouraged the formation of a multijurisdictional task force under SANDAG to create the San Dieguito River Valley Park. In 1989, the task force became a separate Joint Powers Authority to implement and manage the river park.
“This area is so beautiful,” Weare said. “You’re supposed to preserve things for the future.”
The “Women of the Year” honorees will be celebrated during a reception from 3-4 p.m. March 28 in the sixth floor auditorium of the State of California office building at 1350 Front St. in San Diego.
For more information about Del Mar Community Connections, call 858-792-7565 or visit www.dmcc.cc.
For more information about the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, call 858-755-6956 or visit sdrvc.org.