While Rancho Santa Fe has long been recognized for being home to hundreds of the most beautiful Southern Californian homes – the “go-to” neighborhood for luxury real estate in San Diego – the community is also respected for its philanthropic activity.
Students, teachers, parents and general do-gooders make up the many organizations which seek to fundraise, raise awareness, and ultimately give back to the Rancho Santa Fe community.
While the Covenant is arguably the centerpiece of affluent Rancho Santa Fe, the community is home to a number of neighborhoods, including The Bridges, Rancho Pacifica, and The Crosby.
Fairbanks Ranch is one such neighborhood. Located just south of the San Dieguito River Valley, the gated community is home to more than 75 acres of park-like properties and amenities and more than 600 beautiful homes.
Resident Sandra Den Uijl is a resident of Fairbanks Ranch, and it is no surprise that since moving to Rancho Santa Fe, she has been bit by the philanthropy bug. While the majority of her career has focused on accounting, Uijl now volunteers about 30 hours a week at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.
She is also co-chair of the Rancho Santa Fe Auxiliary’s “Circus Nights” gala. The event was held just a few weeks ago, an attempt to fundraise for a new resuscitation room at Rady’s Emergency Care Center.
“Sandra is one of those volunteers who is a can-do person,” said Sara Moten, Rady’s director of auxiliary development. “When she’s in a meeting, she’s always talking about how to make things work, and she’s not afraid to recruit volunteers and donors. People are attracted to her enthusiasm and they’re really inspired by her.”
Since Ujil joined the auxiliary seven years ago, she has made quite a few changes to revamp it. Ujil not only introduced a new fundraising art show, but also established a successful annual golf tournament with fellow member Gina Jordan.
“I’ve always been a nerd who liked working with numbers so I wouldn’t have to talk to people. But once I discovered my passion for Rady, it became easier to ask for things because they weren’t for me,” she said. “I see it as my job now to figure out how to take at least a dollar out of you to give it to the hospital.”
Ujil’s move to pay-it-forward began nearly nine years ago when she moved to Fairbanks Ranch with her husband. As a way to make friends in her new community, she joined Las Damas de Fairbanks, a small women’s charitable group. She was invited by a friend to join the Rancho Santa Fe Auxiliary for Rady Children’s two years later.
Over the past 18 years, the auxiliary has raised $9.5 million for the hospital, primarily through the gala events.
But as much as Ujil has enjoyed the position, Uijl said she’s ready to pass the torch to other members for next year’s event so she can spend more time with her husband.
“I love being a fly on the wall and watching the looks on people’s faces when they walk into the ballroom and say, ‘Wow!’ I want people to come and have a great time, and I want people who don’t come to be sorry that they missed it,” she said.