by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Soul of Photography

Del Mar Do-Gooders

Longtime Del Mar residents Donna Shaw and Betty Wheeler absolutely adore their community. “I like living here for the overall quality of life: a lovely beach town full of interesting people; the ocean, the San Dieguito River Park, Coast to Crest Trail, and Torrey Pines Reserve,” shared Donna. Betty added, “I love living in a small beach town chock-full of brilliant high-achievers surrounded by truly special natural environments – the ocean, Torrey Pines Reserve, San Dieguito and Penasquitos lagoons, the Peninsular Ranges, Anza-Borrego Desert, and the varied landscapes traversed by the southern sections of the Pacific Crest Trail.” Both women share a common interest in helping to preserve their unique community and have become passionate volunteers for the Del Mar Foundation (DMF), a nonprofit organization with a mission to “promote civic pride and cohesiveness, acquire and preserve open space, improve beaches and parklands, raise and grant funds, and sponsor diverse cultural programs and community events in Del Mar.”

“My involvement with the DMF started when I volunteered to be a member of the Cultural Arts Committee,” said Donna, who is a board member and also the chair of the DMF’s Cultural Arts Committee. She feels her biggest accomplishment in volunteering has been bringing a diverse range of talent to the DMF’s concert series, First Thursdays. “Without the community support of the DMF and the Foundation’s support of First Thursdays we would not have been able to make this such a phenomenal program for the past 15 years!” exclaimed Donna. As for her wish for the DMF, Donna replied, “The wish I would like to grant would be for additional community involvement, such as participation in DMF programs and events, volunteering, and donations.”

Group: Del Mar Foundation
Mission: The mission of the Del Mar Foundation is to promote civic pride and cohesiveness, acquire and preserve open space, improve beaches and parklands, raise and grant funds, and sponsor diverse cultural programs and community events in Del Mar.
Contact: 858-635-1363 |

Betty started as a volunteer for the DMF to help with the Foundation’s cultural arts programs – specifically presenting music events at the scenic Powerhouse venue. “Of course, I ended up working on a much broader array of projects, programs, and nonprofit governance issues, and have loved it all!” exclaimed Betty, who is currently a member for the Cultural Arts Committee, for which she produces a special concert series called Bluegrass and Beyond, now in its 11th year. “I’m especially delighted to see how the Bluegrass and Beyond series has really helped nurture and grow the audience for bluegrass music in our community,” shared Betty. “To watch people experiencing the instrumental virtuosity, improvisational skill, and intricate harmony vocals that characterize the best of bluegrass music is a real kick!”

With the DMF’s large calendar of events including concerts, children’s events, talks, and more, both Donna and Betty stress the need for more volunteers. “I suggest that a potential volunteer check the DMF website and see what interests you, and then send an email or call expressing your interest. We will gladly get back to you with additional information,” said Donna. “The truth about volunteerism is that you always get back so much more than you put in and accomplishments are always rooted in collaborative effort,” noted Betty. “So it isn’t that you accomplish something; rather, you have the privilege of having a hand on the oar.”


Name: Donna Shaw
Community: Del Mar
Volunteer Affiliation: Del Mar Foundation
Profession: Licensing Professional in the Technology Transfer Office at UC San Diego
Interests: Music, theater, reading mysteries, and Pilates
Favorite Local Spots: The beach, San Dieguito River Park trails – I am fascinated by the osprey. I also enjoy Pacifica Breeze Cafe, Del Mar Rendezvous, Jake’s Del Mar, Poseidon, and Tony’s Jacal



Name: Betty Wheeler
Community: Del Mar
Volunteer Affiliation: Del Mar Foundation
Profession: Attorney
Interests: Bluegrass music, the dobro, hiking, backpacking, and botany
Favorite Local Spots:Crest Canyon Park, Torrey Pines Reserve, Dog Beach, Shores Park, Seaside Yogurt, Café Secret, Pacific Breeze Café, Peet’s Coffee, Native Foods Café, and Iron Mountain Summit Trail