Giving Back

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Volunteers and donations help local nonprofits continue their important work in the community.

By Newport Beach Magazine Staff


From promoting literacy to assisting animals, preserving our open spaces and advocating for the arts, a wide range of nonprofits are diligently working to benefit the community. And as the year comes to an end, many residents look to make a difference for those in need or support a cause that’s close to their hearts. To encourage this giving spirit, we’ve compiled a roundup of Newport Beach-area organizations that could use your help, either through volunteer hours or through a financial donation. Read on to find a charity that would be grateful for your support this season.


Crystal Cove Conservancy is restoring historic cottages at Crystal Cove State Park. | Photo by J. Christopher Launi/courtesy of Crystal Cove Conservancy

Crystal Cove Conservancy

Established in 1999 by Laura Davick to preserve Crystal Cove State Park’s historic district when developers wanted to turn it into a luxury resort, Crystal Cove Conservancy has worked tirelessly since then to protect this natural space, restore the century-old cottages and bring schoolchildren to the park for science-based field trips. Davick, a third-generation Crystal Cove resident, spearheaded this effort because she understood the importance of preserving this beautiful place for all to enjoy—now and in the future. The Conservancy is one of the state park system’s biggest public benefit organizations, even serving as a model for public-private partnerships across the country. Money from food concessions and overnight cottage rentals helps to pay for maintenance of the historic structures and also fund the park’s science, technology, engineering and math education programs for K-12 students; many are from low-income areas and have never been to the beach. The students learn while taking part in habitat restoration projects and conservation research in the backcountry as well as on the water and beaches. Notably, rare birds, threatened animals and endangered plants all call the park home. Data gathered by the students becomes part of university research projects and is used to help guide conservation management decisions. When it comes to the historic district, where people once lived in the cottages and several movies were filmed, 28 of those cottages and one Japanese language schoolhouse have been restored, with 17 cottages remaining to be fixed up. (


Hoag Hospital Foundation_courtesy of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian
Hoag Hospital Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Hoag health system. | Photo by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

Hoag Hospital Foundation

Established in 1978, the Hoag Hospital Foundation is a philanthropic arm of the nationally recognized Hoag health system, comprising two hospitals—including Hoag Hospital Newport Beach—as well as 15 urgent care centers, 10 health centers and a network of 1,800 physicians, all serving patients in OC. In support of Hoag, the foundation raises more than $100 million in new gifts and pledges every year through its various campaigns and programs. Last year, a generous gift from the Lyon family established the Gen. William Lyon Leadership Center, a state-of-the-art space for hospital and clinical leaders to come together to collaborate and for doctors to refresh and recharge from their daily work. Donations may be made to support a variety of areas, from nursing to women’s health, diabetes or palliative care, the Hoag Family Cancer Institute or to help provide assistance to at-risk and underserved individuals and families. The foundation recently launched Boldly Hoag, a $300 million capital campaign—the largest in Hoag history—to aid the expansion of its Irvine campus. In 2019, the foundation established the Hoag Innovators program, a group of philanthropic leaders dedicated to catalyzing innovation; so far, 13 projects have been funded to keep Hoag at the cutting edge of health care. (


National Cat Protection Society
The National Cat Protection Society’s shelter | Photo by National Cat Protection Society

National Cat Protection Society

Operating no-kill animal shelters in Newport Beach and San Diego, the National Cat Protection Society cares for owner-relinquished felines until they find a forever family, and also provides a retirement home for older cats—at least 8 years old, in good health and with no signs of aggression—when owners can no longer care for them (for a one-time fee of $7,500). The nonprofit’s shelters offer safe, clean and comfortable spaces for the cats with access to large, enclosed patios and special areas for kittens. Meanwhile, the local retirement home features floor-to-ceiling scratching posts, a Newport Pier replica with cat-sized steps to reach the elevated pier as well as a “lifeguard tower” overlooking “waves” made of corrugated aluminum and a colorful mural of the beach. Trained and loving staff and volunteers look after the feline residents, who receive high-quality food and individual attention; there’s even a fully equipped medical clinic on-site. The organization also offers community education about the humane treatment of animals and the importance of spaying and neutering, in addition to bringing cats to senior living homes for animal-assisted therapy. Financial contributions and donations of cat toys, food and the like are welcome. (


HearAid Foundation

Committed to providing hearing aids, services and care to financially disadvantaged adults, children and infants, HearAid Foundation has been working since 2009 to help people hear well—as quickly as possible. All that’s required is a straightforward application and assistance is typically granted within days of approval. According to the foundation, many health insurance providers don’t cover hearing devices. Although some qualify for government assistance, this often involves months of red tape. HearAid Foundation aims to fill that gap for the community’s most vulnerable. Hearing loss can lead to depression, social isolation, balance problems and vertigo. In infants, early intervention is key as the first six months of life are critical for forming pathways in the brain that are needed to hear. The organization accepts financial donations as well as contributions of new or used hearing aids and other assistive devices that are in good condition. (


Volunteers with SmileOnU
Volunteers with SmileOnU | Photo by SmileOnU


A humanitarian organization providing free dental care around the world, SmileOnU has been offering dental cleanings, fillings, extractions and even full-mouth reconstructive surgeries to those in need in the U.S., Cambodia, India, Guatemala and other countries. The organization was founded by BB Maboby, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand to parents of Cambodian and Pakistani descent and moved to the U.S. as an infant. After later graduating from college in 2009, she worked as an oral surgery representative in California before establishing SmileOnU, to which she now dedicates all of her time. The nonprofit is supported by dental providers who volunteer to relieve pain and improve oral health, which impacts overall health and can boost self-confidence as people can smile without feeling embarrassed. SmileOnU also educates people about the benefits of good oral health and tooth-loss prevention. Mobile dental outreach serves LA, OC and San Diego while international dental clinics include a trip to Kenya in 2023. Donations help support the nonprofit, whether through financial contributions or choosing the SmileOnU charity when shopping on (


Living The Dream Foundation

From VIP concert access to meeting their heroes, hospital visits and surprise gifts, the Living the Dream Foundation grants “dream day” wishes of kids and young adults with life-threatening illnesses. The idea is to offer these rich and rewarding experiences that promote the message of “Living the Dream” no matter what your affliction, and provide lasting memories as a way to maintain hope and stay positive. The organization was founded in 2007 by Scottie Somers, who was born with cystic fibrosis and has spent much of his life in and out of hospitals. When doctors started noticing his positive attitude, they asked if he could help inspire other patients who were struggling. Through these experiences, Somers has developed a genuine love and compassion for anyone affected by chronic and terminal diseases as he has been. Early on, Somers worked in the music industry and played in a band, somehow missing only three shows due to his illness. He performed on stage even with a high fever, pneumonia and hooked up to IVs, wanting to show anyone in the crowd who might be struggling through a hard time that they could do anything. Donations go directly toward fulfilling the dream of a child or young adult with a life-threatening illness. (


A Million Thanks

What began in 2004 as a community service project by then-15-year-old Shauna Fleming, A Million Thanks quickly took on a life of its own. To date, the nonprofit has distributed more than 11.7 million letters of appreciation to U.S. troops stationed around the world. In honor of the organization’s 10th anniversary, it began to also fund merit- and need-based college scholarships for children of fallen military members and grant wishes of military members who had been injured; the latter was put on hold during the pandemic. Just three weeks after A Million Thanks was launched, it turned into a national cause with tens of thousands of letters pouring in every week. After only six months, Fleming and her volunteer team reached the initial goal of sending 1 million letters, but they kept going. More than 50 drop-off locations are set up nationwide to collect the letters, which go to active and reserve military members as well as veterans. (


Cancer Kinship

Yolanda Origel was just 7 years old when her mom died of breast cancer. Only 20 years later, Origel herself was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, going through chemotherapy, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries and seven weeks of daily radiation. Seven years into her own cancer survival, her youngest sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her lungs, bones and brain. Due to her own experience with cancer, Origel was able to provide a level of support for her sister that allowed her to die with dignity. Now, as executive director of the Cancer Kinship organization—a nonprofit under fiscal sponsorship of OneOC—she empowers other cancer patients by guiding them through their treatments, helping them regain control of their lives afterward and reduce the risk of disease recurrence. Although many cancer-related funds are raised and spent on awareness, prevention and research, little is focused on addressing cancer’s physical, emotional and psychosocial effects. With a location in the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living, Cancer Kinship aims to bridge that gap by helping patients adjust to their “new normal” lives as survivors through peer mentorship, group and individual support and survivor education. (


Boys & Girls Club - Emergency Food Delivery
Orange County Community Foundation works with groups like the Boys & Girls Club (pictured). | Photo by Orange County Community Foundation

Orange County Community Foundation

Philanthropy is top of the list for this local organization, which helps individuals and families as well as foundations and businesses reach their goals. Orange County Community Foundation has been active for more than 30 years, having awarded almost $830 million in grants and scholarships in that time—not just in OC, but across the globe. Giving goals are achieved through roughly 600 different funds, which center around a multitude of causes. One special reserve that OCCF will route donations to this holiday season is the Powering Good Fund, which helps support the Orange County Veterans Initiative, OC’s Workforce and Community Resilience Funds. “During this holiday season, there will be many incredible local organizations working tirelessly to bring the best of the head and the heart to meet our community’s greatest challenges,” said Shelley Hoss, president and CEO of the organization. “Support of OCCF’s Powering Good Fund fuels a stronger and healthier Orange County by supporting our veteran’s initiative, creating a more robust local workforce for young adults, and establishing a resilient nonprofit sector that can support all residents.” (


Newport Bay Conservancy muth
Newport Bay Conservancy’s Muth Interpretive Center | Photo by Newport Bay Conservancy

Newport Bay Conservancy

Natural spaces are few and far between in OC’s concrete jungle, but Newport is home to one of the best. California’s coastal wetlands were discovered by Spanish explorers in the 18th century, but development over the years stripped away much of their reach; then, in the 1970s, the Upper Newport Bay was deemed a protected ecological reserve after a successful fight against an effort to turn it into a marina. An additional 140 acres was acquired in the 1990s and turned into the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and, paired with the reserve, include an array of natural habitats, including saltmarsh, freshwater marsh, mudflats and open water as well as riparian and upland habitats. Education and research are of utmost importance to this group, with kayak tours, nature walks and high school field activities available to the public; behind the scenes, the nonprofit does everything from wildlife monitoring and restoration work to water quality testing. (


Literacy Leaders

Learning to read is something that should be afforded to everyone, but often isn’t. The Literacy Project helps bridge that gap, teaching second graders special auditory, visual and tactile strategies that allow them to excel at school and beyond. The six-week programs are offered within school settings, at no cost to the student, and help increase self-confidence in addition to reading skills. This holiday season, donations will go toward expanding into new school districts to reach more children, which is important given the negative impact of distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. And for adults that are learning to read, the Newport Beach Public Library offers Project Adult Literacy, a program developed to help locals find greater success in their work and home lives. Small group classes and one-on-one tutoring has been offered to those living or working in town since 1986. While support comes from the city of Newport Beach and the state of California, the majority of funding is through private donations. (The Literacy Project: (Project Adult Literacy:


AITP #3- Barbara Baumgartner Succulent Painting in 2016 show Newport Beach Arts Foundation
A painting demonstration at a show presented by Newport Beach Arts Foundation | Photo by Newport Beach Arts Foundation

Newport Beach Arts Foundation

As the fundraising arm for the Newport Beach Arts Commission,  the Newport Beach Arts Foundation partners with artists, businesses and volunteers to elevate the arts in the local community. The group is responsible for many of the art events you’ll see across town, including the annual Art Exhibition in June, the Art In The Park artisan fair in the fall and the summertime Concerts on the Green. The nonprofit is also responsible for helping raise funds for the rotating, open-air Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park, which is now in its seventh phase. Donations will be used to support the arts commission as it plans and organizes these special events, especially the sculpture exhibit. Other ways to make a difference include in-kind donations of artwork by local artists, corporate sponsorships and art advocacy. (


Newport Beach Public Library Foundation

As one might expect, the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation provides wonderful support for the local library, contributing a whopping $7 million since its establishment in 1989, even helping to build the new Central Library in the 1990s. Funds go toward a number of programs, such as book clubs, creative writing contests and more. “The foundation funds valuable programs like the Witte Lecture series, Library Live, Medicine in Our Backyard and Financial Literacy Workshops, and directly supports the library’s special projects and needs like the Media Lab, Sound Lab and Tech Toys to provide the opportunity for library patrons to use advanced technology to foster their creativity,” says board member Ann Doyle Stephens. “Your support is what makes the Newport Beach Library an outstanding cultural center for our community.” Donations are also used to buy books, ebooks and audiobooks; create the library’s magazine; record podcasts and videos from speaker events; library renovations; and laptops for on-site use. (



Duchenne muscular dystrophy occurs in roughly one of every 5,000 males, eventually rendering them unable to walk, breathe on their own or feed themselves. This devastating illness impacts the muscles and often leads to heart failure long-term, so CureDuchenne was created to spread awareness, help impacted families, offer access to treatment and fund research to hopefully find a cure for the disease. The nonprofit is connected with a number of events throughout the year, taking place all over the country. Locally, the Getzlaf Golf Shootout, hosted by retired Anaheim Ducks hockey Capt. Ryan Getzlaf and his wife, Paige, always benefits CureDuchenne, with the couple having raised more than $5.3 million over the years. Napa in Newport, often held in nearby Dana Point, also supports the nonprofit. “With more clinical trials in progress than ever before,” says co-founder Debra Miller, “hope for a cure is on the horizon and we are so grateful for the community’s support.” (


Friends of the Newport Theatre Arts Center

Since 1979, the Newport Theatre Arts Center has been showcasing live community theater productions in its Cliff Drive space, which is owned by the city. With full support from the government, the organization has grown to become one of the most prominent theater groups in the region, having earned awards from both the city and the media. With four to five shows taking place each season, Friends of the Newport Theatre Arts Center is supported through roughly 800 season ticket holders, who make up about half of the theater’s capacity. Attendees can view dramas, mysteries, comedies and musicals, and open calls are often held for the performances, giving locals a chance to star in the shows. As 2022 draws to a close, the nonprofit is hosting its annual end-of-the-year fundraising campaign, so consider offering a tax-deductible donation this season to help the group make improvements to the newly dedicated Rae A. Cohen Theatre, named for a past president of the center who tirelessly supported the organization for nearly four decades. (


Environmental Nature Center
The butterfly house at the Environmental Nature Center | Photo by Environmental Nature Center

Environmental Nature Center

Connecting with nature isn’t always easy in Southern California, but the Environmental Nature Center is committed to providing as much outdoor exploration as possible for children and adults alike. Founded in 1972, the center showcases 15 different native plant communities, with terrain from all over the state at its Newport campus. The center may be best known for its programming, from naturalist-led experiences to fireside events, school field trips, early childhood education and spring and summer nature camps. The ENC also opened a nature preschool just before the pandemic, giving young learners a chance to immerse themselves in the natural world on a regular basis. “We already provide our impactful programs to a population that mirrors that of diverse Orange County,” says Bo Glover, executive director of the ENC. “… The ENC is working hard to increase access to nature and environmental education for at-risk populations. Funding is needed to subsidize discounted or free programs for students from Title I schools.” (


More Ways to Help

Affordable Housing Access

Since 1999, Affordable Housing Access has been creating and preserving quality affordable housing while also providing social services and resources to empower low-income individuals. The nonprofit and its developer partners have built or acquired and rehabilitated more than 20,000 affordable homes and apartments throughout the West. (

Balboa Bay Club Scholarship Fund

Over the last 20 years, the Balboa Bay Club has provided grants to graduating seniors from local high schools like Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor. The awards are presented to those who are examples of hard work and dedication, and donations help fund these scholarships to make an impact on the students’ future. (

Decorative Arts Society

The Decorative Arts Society hosts an annual speaker series with experts in fields like architecture, interior design, landscape design and more, with five different speakers giving lectures each year. The group started not only as a way to celebrate the decorative arts, but also as a way of supporting local nonprofits dedicated to women and families. (

Friendship Circle

Children and young adults with special needs are treated to a variety of exciting recreational and educational programs with the goal of promoting friendship and kindness through fun social settings. Programs include Sunday Circle, Soccer Stars, Friends at Home, Young Adult Circle, Basketball Buddies and more, and donations can be tailored to some of these programs when made online. (

John Wayne Cancer Foundation

Actor John Wayne, who lived in Newport Beach, was a lung cancer survivor but died after a struggle with stomach cancer. His family established the John Wayne Cancer Foundation in his memory, funding novel and innovative programs related to cancer research and education efforts like Block the Blaze, which has educated more than 500,000 kids nationwide about the importance of skin cancer prevention and early detection. (

Junior League of Orange County

Female volunteers come together under this nonprofit to improve the lives of the underserved. With more than 450 members, the organization leaves a lasting impact on the community through initiatives such as Kids in the Kitchen and Impact OC as well as with scholarships, public affairs work and partnerships with organizations like Orangewood. Donations to JLOCC’s Annual Fund go toward training future volunteers as well as providing resources to those in foster care and victims of human trafficking. (

Magical Builders

Over the past 17 years, this nonprofit has managed the construction and renovation of dozens of charitable facilities in OC, from youth and teen centers to shelters for victims of domestic abuse, homeless centers, athletic fields, often working with Major League Baseball, athletes, celebrities, generous companies and individuals to make an impact. Every holiday season, Magical Builders organizes a pajama drive to provide warm, new PJs to underprivileged kids in Orange County and Phoenix. (

Newport Beach Foundation

Young professionals hoping to make a difference need look no further than the Newport Beach Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit that aims to strengthen leadership in the community through education, research and advocacy. The group hosts a Distinguished Citizen program and also offers scholarships to local high school students. (

Paw Prints in the Sand

For animals in need, a loving home is the only thing that matters, and Paw Prints in the Sand works to make those dreams a reality, seeking to rescue and find homes for 1,000 pets by 2025. All donations go toward helping these animals with things such as training, medical care and the search for a forever home. (

Project Giving Light

Happiness is the ultimate goal at Project Giving Light, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children living in foster care of homeless shelters. The organization hosts birthday parties for children each month with the help of their Birthday Boxes, which are filled with everything from toys and art supplies to clothing and hygiene products. (

Project Self-Sufficiency

More than one in five college students are parents and 43% of student parents are single mothers. Project Self-Sufficiency assists low-income single parents in OC to graduate from college or vocational training equipped with the skills needed to become economically independent. The nonprofit provides financial assistance, counseling, childcare help, a supply pantry and long-term case management during the students’ educational journey and as they transition into a career. (

SageView Foundation

Both by partnering with other organizations and through its own programs in Rwanda, SageView Foundation seeks to provide health care and education for women and children in crisis and also promotes micro-financing initiatives that allow for sustainable change both here and abroad. Locally, the foundation works with Orange County Rescue Mission to provide funds for programming and paid time away from work for volunteers as well as to replenish the food pantry stock. (

Tias Arms

Joanne Baker, who was born in South Africa and relocated to the U.S. as a young woman, was moved to action after returning to her hometown in 2001 only to find that it was ground zero for the AIDS epidemic, leaving thousands of children orphaned. In response, she launched Tias Arms, which has raised more than $1 million to support grassroots groups that provide food, shelter, health care and education for children in impoverished areas of South Africa. (

Veterans Relief Foundation

This foundation offers alternative therapeutic programs such as adapted water sports for veterans, active-duty military members—including those who have been wounded—and their families. The organization’s team has designed special watercraft equipment that allows those in wheelchairs to paddleboard, for example, creating an empowering and encouraging experience for servicemen and women. (

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