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Encinitas Mother Helping Youth Achieve Dreams in Memory of Her Son

Robin Tarr is keeping her late son's memory alive with a scholarship fund for underserved students. In a weak economy, donations are needed more than ever.

Robin Tarr is reaching out to the community to ask for support of her nonprofit, the Jonathan Tarr Memorial Scholarship Fund, by purchasing tickets, or making donations, to the 10th Annual Windows to the World Tribute and Benefit Luncheon. The event takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2270 Hotel Circle North, San Diego.  

The foundation is named for Tarr’s son, Jonathan, who was a senior at Sunset High (Continuation) School when he was thrown from a vehicle driven by a friend and killed on July 2, 1998.

To date, the fund has provided $247,000 in scholarship money to graduating high school students enrolled in alternative education curricula such as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), English as a Second Language (ESL), Baby Parenting Centers for Teen Moms and foster care student programs, to name a few.

“Our goal is to raise $18,000 for the Class of 2013 Scholarship Recipients,” Tarr explained.

In previous years scholarships were awarded in the amount of $1,000. Since the economic downturn, that amount has decreased to an average of $750. This year it is $650.

“The amount of the scholarship depends on how much money we are able to raise,” Tarr said. “But we are fortunate to have a group of core people on our board who are committed to our mission.”

The luncheon will include a silent auction, raffle and traditional Hawaiian music by Moana, Charles Ki’aha and Ilima Lei Russell as well as dance performances by Kumu Hula Kathy Gore-Stanley and Heali’i Polynesian Revue.  

The menu will feature a no-host bar along with Mandarin orange chicken salad, vegetarian wrap with pasta, rolls and butter, dessert and beverage.

A highlight of the afternoon will be a salute to educator Loretta Hom, and her husband, business and civic leader Tom Hom, recipients of the Foundation’s 2012 Humanitarian Award.

“Loretta has been an advocate for the training of women and minorities to encourage their greater participation in the social, civic and political life of our diverse communities,” Tarr explained. “She and Tom have very generously supported our Windows of Opportunity Scholarships through the San Diego Foundation.”

Jonathan grew up long boarding at Cardiff reef and, like most boys, loved Legos. He had the distinction of hitting the first official home run when the YMCA Ecke Field opened. After graduating from Oak Crest Middle School, Jonathan went on to La Costa Canyon High School but found the size of the school intimidating. According to his mother, this was compounded by the fact that his parents were going through a divorce. Jonathan pleaded with his parents to go to Sunset High (Continuation) School because of the smaller campus and class size, which made it possible to get individualized attention. Jonathan especially liked the flexible hours available through the work-study-for-credit program, and thrived in his new job as a courtesy clerk at Vons grocery store on Santa Fe Drive.

The Jonathan Tarr Scholarship Fund was created for other kids like him.

“Jonathan didn’t live long enough to live his dreams, but his legacy lives on with 327 students who received his scholarships,” Robin Tarr said.  “It takes a village. These children are not broken, and they don’t need to be fixed. They just need a different way to graduate from high school.”

Previous scholarship recipient Kristen Paruginog went on to earn a journalism degree with honors from San Diego State University, and “pay it forward” by establishing the nonprofit, Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

"The Tarr Foundation has not only helped me with an academic scholarship, but continues to support me professionally in all facets of my life,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful for Aunty Robin because she awarded me my very first scholarship through the Pacific Islander Festival. I plan to be a part of this organization for many years to come."

Donors can contribute on different levels:

  • Dream Maker Sponsor: $2,500
  • Mentor Sponsor: $1,000
  • Fund a JTF Scholarship: $500
  • Sponsor a JTF Student: $250
  • Patron Ticket: $100
  • Individual Ticket: $60
  • Make a Donation:Donate a Silent Auction or Raffle Prize

To make a reservation, or donation to the silent auction or raffle, call (760) 561-1455.  Pickup is available. Financial donations can be made via Paypal or U.S. mail to 1042 N. El Camino Real, B-302, Encinitas CA 92024. For more information, visit jonathantarrfoundation.org, call (760) 818-0462 or email info@JonathanTarrFoundation.org.

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