30 Years Told in 30 Stories: Robert Price

From your perspective what positive changes have been made in City Heights over the last 30 years?

We started getting involved in City Heights in 1994, and over the course of many years, I think the biggest change from my perspective, is certainly crime and just a sense of safety has improved enormously. I’m sure many others who live here can speak to this better than I can, but there was a time when going outside to walk was a concern; it just wasn’t safe. 

I think when you boil it all down, you can see the physical changes, but ultimately, it’s the people. The way people feel about their community has changed. For young people, several generations ago, the sense was to ‘get out of here as fast as you can,’ but that’s not true anymore. Youth today, who participate in their school and community programs are continuously finding ways to give back and enhance their community. One example of this is the Rotaract Club, a vibrant organization created by Hoover High School alumni whose purpose is to serve the City Heights community through fellowship and leadership development.

How have these positive changes impacted your life as you have watched them unfold?

I think what's impacted my life in the most positive way is the opportunity to become friends and get to know people who I never would have had a chance to meet if it hadn't been for my father becoming involved in City Heights. I think one good example of that is Rosario, who serves as the Program Director here at Price Charities, and so many other people like her, who have enriched our lives.

In 2009, a gift from price charities allowed mid-city can to start its first youth council, a group of youth under 18 years who would later bring 2 new skate parks with a total investment of 5.1 million dollars into city Heights. Your most recent gift is allowing Mi-City CAN to develop a new cohort of youth leaders who have launched a campaign to give youth a meaningful role in policy community partnerships. 

Clearly, you have a heart for youth, as the majority of the programs here at Price Charities are centered on youth development and empowerment. What reflections do you have on the power of youth? What is it about youth today that gives you great hopes for the future of City Heights?

My hope isn’t just for City Heights, but for the country! Not only in City Heights, but as a society we are faced with enormous challenges, but it’s our youth, many of whom are idealistic, that are the ones who are stepping up to make positive changes in the world. One thing I can say, however, about youth here in City Heights, in contrast with youth from other parts of San Diego, is the degree of involvement in this community. Whether it's cleaning up the canyons or volunteering in homeless programs, many young people here in City Heights see themselves as having a role in making their community and world a better place.

What are your personal hopes and dreams for the future of City Heights and for the region?

I think in City Heights and San Diego in general, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to afford to live here because of the housing situation. My hope is that we will be creative in stemming the housing crisis, making it more possible for people who are working hard to create a better life for their families, to live here. I’m also looking forward to a day when the immigration policy will be more friendly and we will continue to support newcomers of this country who have so much to contribute and can play a role in helping these people live the American dream.

Given the positive impact Price Charities has had for so many people, what wisdom would you impart on investors, community members, new nonprofits, and young philanthropists, who are passionate about engaging in this kind of work?

In thinking about the work we’ve done here and other places, a lot of it was made possible due to being successful in business. But you don’t have to be successful in business to be philanthropic, because philanthropy can be done at the most modest level to the highest Bill Gates level.

Some people view philanthropy as something that comes as a result of being successful in business, but that is not what I was taught. The way I was taught by my father and our values, is that the most important good work we ever did was within our business by paying good wages, providing meaningful work for people, and serving our customers well. For us, our values in business and philanthropy were not separate.

So, for those who are passionate about engaging in this kind of work, I would make a pitch that there are plenty of opportunities in business to do good for society and the community. By being creative entrepreneurially, you will be offering better products and services, employing people, and eventually leveraging some of that success into doing greater acts of philanthropy.

What is something you enjoy doing in your spare time?

1. Spending time with my family, both children and grandchildren, all of whom live in San Diego. 

2. I really enjoy swimming. It’s too cold to swim in the ocean without a wetsuit so for now I just stick to the pool. When it warms up I’ll be able to enjoy it more.

Where is your favorite place to eat in City Heights? 

I don't want to name a restaurant because I don't want to offend any other restaurants. There are so many kinds of food here from Mexican, El Salvadorian, Ethiopian, and Vietnamese. What I can say is that City Heights is an exciting place to dine with many different kinds of cuisines.

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  • Mid-City CAN (Community Advocacy Network)
    published this page in Stories 2019-05-03 14:01:11 -0700