Guest Commentary: FORUS donation helps smooth way for students in wheelchairs

Schoolchildren in wheelchairs will find it easier to drive to class at the start of school on August 19, as a project to improve accessibility in the special education area of ​​Ramona High School has been carried out.

Friends of Ramona Unified Schools (FORUS) contributed $ 20,000 to the total project cost of $ 26,257.58 in early July. After requesting and receiving offers, the Ramona Unified School District
the contract to the Ramona company Hankins Construction, Inc.

The FORUS donation represents the proceeds from the Chip-in for Education golf tournament presented by H5 Financial, a mortgage loan company owned by Shelly Heimer. It was the fifth
Tournament H5 Financial presented on behalf of FORUS.

“As a RUSD alumni with three daughters in the district and several friends as teachers, being a FORUS partner means more than words can describe,” said Heimer. “I wholeheartedly support the mission and the members of this organization and selfless group of volunteers who work for the service.”

In 2016, Heimer hosted H5 Financial’s first ever chip-in-for-education golf tournament, a fundraiser that raised $ 7,500. With the exception of 2020 when the event was postponed due to
COVID-19 restrictions, she held tournaments annually. The 2017 tournament raised $ 7,000, the 2018 event raised $ 12,035, the 2019 $ 13,095, and this year’s $ 20,000.

The money raised at this year’s tournament helped the district complete one of its numerous summer maintenance projects.

“Students in wheelchairs actually had to drive through broken asphalt and gravel,” said Rena Seifts, RUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, in an email. “Thanks to FORUS, it will be a smooth journey for you. In addition, the area directly behind the bridge, which comes from the Ag site, has been re-asphalted so that there is no puddle of mud when it rains. “

A shot of the broken asphalt and gravel on Ramona High prior to a resurfacing project.

A shot of the cracked asphalt and gravel at Ramona High School ahead of a resurfacing project that will make it easier for students in wheelchairs to access class. FORUS donated $ 20,000 to the project.

(Courtesy Ramona Unified School District)

A picture taken after the renovation work at Ramona High School.

A picture taken after the renovation work at Ramona High School.

(Courtesy Ramona Unified School District)

In addition to the $ 59,630 H5 finance tournaments raised over the past six years, Heimer donates to FORUS of every loan she takes out. As of 2018, these donations totaled $ 35,900, bringing Heimer to donate more than $ 95,530 to FORUS.

A unique aspect of FORUS is that 100 percent of donations are used for health and safety projects that benefit Ramona’s students and staff. The other costs are borne by the members personally.

FORUS, a nonprofit that was founded in 2013 after RUSD’s $ 66 million loan offer failed in 2012, receives project proposals from school principals, parents, teachers, students, PTAs, community members, and the district. It cooperates and works with the district to ensure that the projects run smoothly. Donations come from fundraisers, individuals, companies, and organizations such as the Kiwanis Club of Ramona and the Ramona Woman’s Club. In addition to Heimer’s golf tournaments, fundraising campaigns such as a Vegas Style Game Night and Tips for Sips were held.

“To say that we are proud of our partnership is an understatement,” said Heimer. “I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to contribute and support FORUS, RUSD and the Ramona community.”

During the 2020-21 school year, which is the 30th Woodson Elementary School, resolving fire deficiencies at Ramona High School, bottle fillers for Hanson Elementary School, and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) for the RHS Sports Department.

Contributions in previous years include water fountains and bottle fillers at schools that have requested them, AED batteries and units, “soft-fall” surfaces for elementary school playgrounds, a basketball hoop for kindergarten teachers from Barnett Elementary School, money for the James resuscitation Dukes Elementary School, heavy duty soap dispensers in the secondary schools, electric hand dryers, roof repairs, $ 5,000 as a grant from Lowe to install higher fences behind the middle school, and $ 10,000 for the new James Dukes Elementary School playground.

Heimer became involved with FORUS after RUSD’s $ 40 million bond offer, Proposition Q, failed in 2014. She was looking for a way to support the schools.

“I was looking for ways to make a difference when I found FORUS,” she said. “Little did I know then that this partnership would develop and grow to the extent that it is
today.”

At the end of this year’s golf tournament, FORUS members presented Heimer with a plaque as a thank you for their many years of support.

Heimer and FORUS thanked the many sponsors who contributed to the success of the tournament: Putting Sponsor Rancho Land Co., Pizza Sponsor Parkes Plumbing, Lunch Sponsor Woodson Wealth Management, Platinum Sponsor United Wholesale Mortgage, Gold Sponsor Brenda McGuinness with do Terra, Karen Domnitz Century 21 Award, Armstrong Land & Development, Southern Magnolia, Craft Signings, ACM Consulting, Juanita Cox Bookkeeping and Tax Service, Montessori Children’s House, Justin Shaw ReMax, H5 Financial, Ramona Community Theater, Shelter Island Capital, Bernd Brokerage, Ransom Pump, Ballpark Printing, ALTA Drywall, Oakwood Escrow, Ramona Dental, Cattle Dog Coffee Col, Amber Ramirez Farmers Insurance, VFW Post 3783 and MJN Real Estate.

FORUS members also thanked the individuals, companies and organizations who donated to the silent auction baskets.

FORUS meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month as required in Olive Peirce Middle School Room A3, 1521 Hanson Lane. For more information, call 760-803-9706 or visit FORUS on Facebook.

Maureen Robertson, former Sentinel Editor, is a board member of FORUS