RidgeProject - Charlon State Farm helps non-profits

RidgeProject - Charlon State Farm helps non-profitsBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

A one hundred dollar donation gives you the opportunity to win a safe filled with treasure: gold, silver, and stamps appraised at $25,000. The RidgeProject – State Farm is heading up this event specifically to benefit non-profits in the Indian Wells Valley and Searles Valley. How does it work? The non-profit sells the ticket and keeps $75 and $25 goes to RidgeProject to finance their ongoing efforts. Their goal is to gain 1,000 donations which would be a big boon to local groups. The winner will be drawn at Santa’s Art Shop in December.

The RidgeProject grew out of the Community Dinner sponsored by State Farm Insurance in the 1990’s. State Farm did all of the legwork for the dinners with non-profits keeping 50% of ticket sales. The first year fed 500 ticket holders. Several years later the dinner had 4,200 ticket holders with non-profits keeping 100% of ticket prices.

After turning the Community Dinner over to the Rotary Club, Gary Charlon of State Farm Insurance and his family conceived RidgeProject. “I wanted Ridgecrest to look nicer. I grew up here and I saw Ridgecrest change over a period of time,” says Charlon. “At the time the base was saying they were having a hard time recruiting and bringing people here and at the same time realtors were saying it was hard to sell some of these homes because people in the neighborhood weren’t taking care of their homes.”

Having learned that many people do not like to join organizations RidgeProject set it up so that there was no membership, no dues, and none of the obligations that go with membership. They hosted events where people could show up when they wanted for as long as they wanted. Over several years volunteers and donations were difficult to come by; so, RidgeProject changed.

Now Gary Charlon and RidgeProject – State Farm pay out of pocket or do the work themselves. Current projects include maintaining the trees on Balsam Street, cleaning up the theater grounds, hiring DART to clean up trails, and recently hiring a contractor to remove a mobile home destroyed by fire. Thus the need for funds.

When asked about the safe fundraiser, Charlon says, “I have a collection that I don’t use and I thought if I can use this as an incentive for people to sell tickets we could help non-profits. I want to help non-profits. They are helping people. I am distraught about what is happening to our community. I grew up here. Our community is changing and it is going the wrong way. People don’t want to join non-profits anymore. They are good. So I am trying to help them.

I would like to see non-profits get healthier because things have changed, I would like to see the community get healthier. That doesn’t mean growing and having shopping, it is the basics of the community getting healthier. Cleaning it up, taking care of it, caring about our neighbors. There are some good things out there happening, but not as fast as we have things turning bad. That is a problem. We have to figure out a way we can turn this thing around.”

For more information about the RidgeProject – State Farm fundraiser call Gary Charlon at 760-446-4279

Photo: Gary Charlon of Ridgeproject - State Farm holds a specialty Australian silver coin included in the fundraising event.

Story First Published: 2021-09-17