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An Inside Look at the Gary Sinise Foundation San Diego Chapter

August 18th, 2021

Today, August 18, 2021, the Gary Sinise Foundation is thrilled to announce the debut of our San Diego Chapter. The San Diego Chapter is the second chapter for the Gary Sinise Foundation nationally and its first chapter on the West Coast.

San Diego was selected to be the Gary Sinise Foundation’s second local chapter for a multitude of reasons, the first being: San Diego is home to the nation’s largest concentration of military personnel, including one-sixth of the U.S. Navy and over one-fourth of U.S. Marine Corps personnel. The Gary Sinise Foundation also has a deep and storied history with San Diego, dating back to Serving Heroes events that have provided thousands of meals to first responder departments and military service members throughout San Diego County, numerous specially adapted homes provided 100% mortgage free by the Foundation to San Diego’s most severely wounded heroes, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band concerts at the at Hotel del Coronado and Camp Pendleton, Invincible Spirit Festivals at the Naval Medical Center, grants for San Diego’s first responder departments, and much more.

Most of all, San Diego is a community that embodies the spirit of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s core value of service.

In the lead-up to the launch of the San Diego Chapter on August 18, we turned to Gib Bosworth, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach, and Chris Thorne, San Diego Chapter President, to answer a few questions about this next phase of community service and charitable support from the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Why San Diego for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s second Chapter?

Gib: Part of our Chairman and Founder, Gary Sinise's vision is to extend his mission across the United States. He and the leadership team at the Gary Sinise Foundation have a conviction to extend our already strong spirit of service.

We have four core programmatic pillars with great initiatives. The San Diego Chapter will fulfill those pillars at a community level – for individuals, the community, and companies in the San Diego area. The San Diego Chapter can identify the needs in their community in a more intimate, localized way, versus through a national lens.

Chris: The Foundation and Gary's vision has been so impactful nationwide, and San Diego has been a beneficiary of that support for quite a while. We have such an amazing veteran, service member, and first responder community in San Diego, so this is an opportunity to connect the mission locally and connect with individuals closer to home. And we are excited to bring that local impact to San Diego and create those very personal relationships with the beneficiaries we serve and those who help support the mission.

You both have long been involved in military and veteran support service organizations. Chris, tell us how those years of experience shaped your decision to join the Gary Sinise Foundation San Diego Chapter? And Gib, as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach, what are you most looking forward to after the debut?

Chris: During my years of service, I was struck by the amazing men and women who serve our nation – I was humbled working beside them and realized at the same time the needs that we could not fulfill. I was able to see from the service member side the impact the Gary Sinise Foundation could bring.

In 2012, I saw my first Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band concert and saw the reaction of the attendees. That gratitude was deeply planted in me for years after. So when the opportunity arose to have any role with GSF, I think I said “yes” before Gib could finish his sentence.

Gib: I am looking forward to a lot of goodness. Part of it is to bring additional people into our mission. That’s exciting. Another aspect of it is educating, providing hope, giving people a connection to our community in San Diego, while bringing our donors, volunteers, and stakeholders together. People always ask, “how can we help?” Now they have an opportunity to engage with the team in San Diego and spend time with the people we serve.

Give us a sense of the expertise of the Chapter’s Board of Directors and their backgrounds. What went into the selection process, and how important was a diversity of backgrounds and public service experience?

Gib: We spent a considerable amount of time doing our due diligence and spending time with people in the community. We wanted a cross-section of individuals who support our military and first responder communities. Diversity of leadership – service members, first responders, community leaders, and business executives – was priority one in the selection process. They represent a 360 purview of the entire San Diego community, which lends itself to make a robust organization grow.

We found people of character—individuals who truly care about Gary’s mission.

Chris: Gib and the team set us up so well to come out swinging for the fences. We were blessed with an initial cadre of individuals interested in participating and expanding that out. We were looking for individuals who represent the people we serve and the communities we connect with for our support.

What are the immediate and long-term priorities of the Chapter? How will the Chapter accomplish them?

Chris: Immediate priorities, along with creating the organizational structure to set the Chapter up for success for years to come, are connecting with the community and letting them know we are here and locally connected – that is, the community we serve and the community of supporters. Creating those relationships is going to foster so much great work.

We want to make an impact right out of the gate. From what we have seen so far, there is genuine excitement about the Foundation being here in San Diego.

Gib: One of my objectives for this Chapter is to play a vital role as a luminary to show future chapters what “great” looks like. That is in terms of connecting with stakeholders, individuals, companies, volunteers, and recipients, and bringing the mission locally.

There is a pent-up demand in our country for people to find something positive. We represent that. We are leading from the front on positivity, solutions, and hope. America has responded to Gary’s mission in such a profound way and wants to help.

How do you see the San Diego Chapter adding to the mission of the Foundation as a whole?

Gib: The first thing that comes to mind is the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network, our newest initiative. TBI and PTS are top of mind. We are losing 22 of our nation’s defenders to suicide every day. Through our partnerships with the Marcus Institute of Brain Health and the Boulder Crest Foundation, we have an opportunity and a platform to reach this population in a unique way. We can give them hope and tools to continue to heal. Mental wellness is an area that is a large part of our mission, and this is a family matter. Our local chapters help us reach into the community to help those afflicted with these invisible wounds.

In addition, being connected to the community is a way to innovate in a way we can’t necessarily at a national level. The communities know what they need better than anyone else.

Chris: The goal is to ensure that we are supportive of the mission as a whole and to create a template to expand chapter development as the Foundation continues to grow across the nation. We want to find unique ways to show Gary’s appreciation and vision. We are doing things we couldn’t do before we were locally connected. We hope that we can take what we are doing here and continue this around the country with communities who are ready and willing to spread Gary’s mission.

Live in San Diego and want to get involved? Check out the San Diego Chapters page on our website to donate or reach out to our team members.

Don’t live in San Diego but want to get involved? Stay up to date on the latest happenings at the Gary Sinise Foundation by
signing up for our newsletters, donating, or following us on any of our social media platforms.

Written by Jordan Hunter