Adrienne & April
For 14 years now, as of today (June 5), the Toby Wells Foundation has sponsored one of the signature charity golf events at Maderas Golf Club.
Annually sold-out fields and sponsorships have generated more than $2 million in funds to help underprivileged kids and neglected animals in San Diego.
Not bad, especially for being organized and run by two sisters, Adrienne Wells Holmes and April Wells West, who don’t play golf.
“It’s kind of ironic, but it’s worked out really well,” Adrienne says. “(A golf tournament) just proved to be a natural fit … even though my sister and I don’t play.”
The golf tournament came about after the sisters established the charity to honor the memory of their brother Toby and were seeking ways to raise support.
“Our family was in the construction equipment industry,” Adrienne says. “A lot of our supporters were construction workers who really enjoyed golf.”
With the sisters living a mile from the course, Maderas was a natural choice – and a success story was born.
“We get great service and hospitality at Maderas,” Adrienne says. “It’s been a great partnership to work with them.”
In the early days of the foundation, its funds and volunteers partnered with local nonprofits to achieve its mission in the community. In 2009, those efforts gained a home when the family purchased a 300-acre ranch in Ramona and dubbed it Blue Apple Ranch.
The ranch is populated by nearly 100 horses and goats, steers and chickens who were rescued from neglect and abuse. Those animals are now cared for by underprivileged and disabled children and provide an education about animal awareness and compassion. Through a partnership with the YMCA, the horses also allow for an annual equestrian and horse summer camp.
The twin causes of welfare for animals and children were those championed by their brother before he passed after a tragic accident. Among the many stories, he was known for rescuing dogs from the animal shelter and making their guard dogs at the family business.
His legacy and spirit now live on through the foundation.
“The ranch is meant to be here for generations to come,” Adrienne says. “This is how we wanted to memoralize our brother, by going good works in the community.”
And those efforts continue to evolve, partly because funds raised by the golf tournament, Adrienne says.
“We’ve had about an 87 percent retention rate of golfers and sponsors,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to our family and it has allowed us to expand our reach. Our base of supporters are local. Those that benefit are all local. We are truly a grass-roots organization in San Diego.
“One of the most unique things about the Toby Wells Foundation is that although we’re private family foundation, we’ve grown into more of a community foundation.”
Among other efforts for the foundation, it partners with the foster care program at San Pasqual Academy to provide 18-week internships.
“Research shows that foster kids who have a work experience prior to age 18 are three times more likely to find gainful employment,” Adrienne says.
The family also funded the Toby Wells YMCA in Kearney Mesa, through which it serves unprivileged kids and military families.
“Funds from the golf tournament are directly benefitting children,” Adrienne says.
The tournament now takes about four to five months of work by the family, but April says time spent on things like stocking the auctions all pays off.
“And it all comes from San Diego, like the Padres and the Chargers,” she says. “And Maderas donates back too. Every bit helps.”
Following the tournament, golfers adjoin to the Maderas ballroom for an awards dinner and program, during which a video relays the programs and successes of the foundation. In 14 years, the foundation has raised nearly $14 million.
“We’ve done runway fashions shows and partnered with the YMCA to do concerts with Kenny Loggins and Little Richard,” April says, “but the golf tournament has really proved a good fit for us.”
To learn more about foundation, or contribute, go to www.tobywells.org. Any questions can be directed to Adrienne Wells Holmes at email@example.com. Among the ways to support Toby Wells is by buying twine bracelets made from repurposed twine from hay bales at the farm.
Blue Apple Ranch