The giving series (vol. III) – Vicki Granowitz

Vicki with fellow volunteers and Council President Todd Gloria at dedication of entry monument on Texas Street.

Vicki with fellow volunteers and Council President Todd Gloria at dedication of entry monument on Texas Street.

I started writing a series on people in San Diego who give of themselves in service to their communities or to causes that they find important.  My hope is that these stories will inspire others to share themselves as well. You can read about philanthropist Linda Katz here and Southwestern College Trustee Nora Vargas here.  Today I’m writing about a woman with a good heart who spends a lot of time trying to help make her community a bit better to live in.  We first met when she was on the board of the North Park Community Association and I was just returning home.  Let me tell you about Vicki Granowitz…

1.     How long have you lived in San Diego?  What do you enjoy most about living here?

In 1974, I moved from L.A. to San Diego to attend SDSU, planning to return to LA after 2 years to go to UCLA. Then I moved to the beach, found a great group of friends that I started crewing, rubber rafting, water/snow skiing and running on the boardwalk with–UCLA became a distant memory.

40 yrs. later I love living in North Park, the quirkiness of the place, the diversity and friendliness of its inhabitants, the proliferation of new restaurants, the fact so much of our historic integrity is still intact and living in a historic district in a 101 yr. old house.

2.     What is the 4-1-1 on your family? Spouse? Pets?

Vicki and her husband Bill in New York City in 1996

Vicki and her husband Bill in New York City in 1996

My husband Bill and I have been together since our first date in November 1982.  He is my family, my rock and I cannot imagine my life without him. I was always close with my birth family but with distance, the passage of time, the people you love pass on & move on, but they remain in my heart always.

On the other hand I am still close with friends from my childhood who are my family, friends of over 40 & 50 yrs. who are the sisters I never had. I’ve been blessed with the kinds of friends who love me no matter what and have been there through the times that have not been so fun or easy. Being diagnosed with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis, as I was in 1986, you find out who your friends really are.

Vicki (on left) with childhood friend Lezlie - they remain friends to this day

Vicki (on left) with childhood friend Lezlie – they remain friends to this day

We chose not to have children given the instability of my health; it was a painful choice, but the right one.  And we don’t have pets because the only ones I would have wanted I am allergic to!

3.     What are the charitable organizations in which you are currently involved?

I’m not involved in traditional charitable organizations at this time, although I have been since I was a teenager.  My current interests lie in bettering my neighborhood of North Park and the City of San Diego through civic volunteerism. (editor’s note: the cover photo at the top of this article is an example of the type of thing that most people enjoy but never realize how it happened. A nice effort between Sudberry Properties, the City, and the Planning Committee on which Vicki served to bring those major safety improvements along Texas St.)

Currently I Chair the North Park Planning Committee and have been involved in planning issues for about 17 years.  I have served on the North Park Recreation Council for 20 yrs and I also serve on three Boards/Committees that I was appointed to by the Mayor or Council President and confirmed by City Council.  These are for The City of San Diego: The Park and Recreation Board, The Utility Undergrounding Advisory Committee, and The Consolidated Plan Advisory Board (CPAB) which I Chair. (The CPAB makes recommendations to City Council on how the city should spend federal money – called Community Development Block Grants – designed to improve certain communities.)

I  previously Chaired the Balboa Park Committee and founded the Balboa Park Conservancy.   I unfortunately resigned in protest when the gulf between my experience, views and beliefs and the rest of the Conservancy Board became insurmountable.

4.     How long have you been involved in the community in San Diego? And what was the first thing you remember doing?

I’ve been involved since 1978.  There are actually two things I remember.  When I started I was fighting to save the whales and protecting a woman’s reproductive rights.

5.         Why did you get involved? 

It’s part of the culture I grew up in, it never dawned on me not to when there are so many worthwhile causes and needs. It’s also what I do when something really pisses me off.

What keeps you involved? 

The challenge, the people, the possibilities and the opportunity to learn new things. I’m trained as a social worker which I loved but had to retired in my early 40’s.  Doing the volunteer work I currently do replaced that loss with something I’m skilled at without the demands  required of working with the fragile populations I treated.

6.     Any advice for people thinking about getting more involved in philanthropic or charitable work in the San Diego region?

Do what you love, expect nothing in return.

7.         What’s your favorite place to eat? Favorite beverage?  Last travel destination?

Western Steakburger in North Park, their 8 oz. burger, Greek salad and onion rings are true comfort food.  My favorite beverage is the Mango Smoothie from Panera and my last travel destination was a trip to Las Vegas (where the photo was taken).

A trip to Las Vegas with friends

A trip to Las Vegas with friends

8.         Anything else you care to share?

I try to practice something I learned from a very wise mentor a long time ago, “You will never be disappointed if you have no attachment to the way”  Can’t always do it but when I can it….

 

Thanks for dropping by.  Many of my posts are about the great food and craft beer available around the San Diego and Baja regions, but it’s good to remember the value that giving – of your time, your talent or your treasure – can really mean to others.  Have a great day.

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