Wave of Giving in Memory of Kenny Ovens

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Kenny Ovens was frequently seen in town wearing his Three Clubs Barefoot Golf Classic T-shirt; it was a SchoolPower event he loved. A $20,000 matching contribution was offered on Nov. 14 for SchoolPower’s Wave of Giving campaign by Kari Nelson Ovens in dedication to her late husband. Photo courtesy of SchoolPower.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, SchoolPower, the education foundation that supports Laguna Beach public schools, raised over $50,000 with the help of a special $20,000 matching contribution offered by Kari Nelson Ovens in dedication to her late husband, Kenny. This year’s Wave of Giving community campaign aims to raise $500,000 and is the biggest source of annual revenue for SchoolPower.

Wednesday’s Campaign Day match was especially meaningful. “We are thrilled that community members gave for Kenny. He was an incredible dad and a long-time SchoolPower supporter, and is truly missed,” said SchoolPower Executive Director Sarah Durand.

Nelson Ovens cites Kenny’s connection with the schools and community as her reason for offering the matching gift, “Kenny had a great appreciation for LBUSD and was connected to the schools and students. He was a volunteer for TOW’s Bear Club reading program, a soccer referee and enjoyed working in Thurston’s Ball Room,” Nelson Ovens said. “Kenny especially loved SchoolPower’s Barefoot Classic golf tournament—he had the best time there.” Ovens passed away in January of 2018 following his battle with cancer. Their son, Trey, is a freshman at Laguna Beach High School.

The Ovens family—Kenny, Kari and Trey. A $20,000 matching contribution was offered on Nov. 14 for SchoolPower’s Wave of Giving campaign by Kari Nelson Ovens in dedication to her late husband, Kenny. Photo courtesy of SchoolPower.

SchoolPower’s next campaign day will be on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 27, with a $12,500 match by the parents of a 2018 LBHS graduate and future 2023 graduate, and the Brougher family, parents of future 2029 and 2031 graduates. Parent volunteers dedicate their time on campaign days to contact district families to explain SchoolPower’s mission and encourage them to give. Campaign days often include a dollar-for-dollar match from a generous donor, such as Nelson Ovens. As veteran campaign day caller Mike Gilles expressed, “Matching days energize the volunteers to reach out and really motivate donors because they are able to double their impact of their contribution.”

The model for campaign days began 37 years ago, when on a Sunday afternoon, a group of concerned parents gathered in a local home to discuss the financial challenges facing the Laguna Beach schools and impacting the children in the community. The decision: form a foundation and get the community involved. The same group began making phone calls to educate parents and raise funds to support the Laguna Beach Unified School District. This was the inception of SchoolPower. As Jack Perry, one of the founding parents, recently avowed, “It is a team effort. Giving is not an option; it is a responsibility.”

SchoolPower continues to fulfill the mission of enhancing the educational experience of the whole student as they grow from TK through 12th grade. Thanks to its many supporters, SchoolPower has provided Laguna’s local public schools with millions of dollars for to help support a wide range of programs, including small class sizes, academics, athletics, visual and performing arts, music, STEM programs, and wellness and student support.

By participating in SchoolPower’s Wave of Giving campaign, community members have the opportunity to invest in local students, make an impact on their future, and be a part of ensuring excellence in Laguna Beach schools. Currently the Wave of Giving campaign is over three quarters to its goal of $500,000. Participate now at:give.lbschoolpower.org. Donations of any amount are appreciated. Those that donate $100 or more to SchoolPower receive two Laguna Locals Cards for discounts at over 130 local businesses.

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