Two Legislators Name Peppermint Ridge a California Nonprofit of the Year

Assembly Member Cervantes (right) congratulates the Peppermint Ridge representatives at the awards ceremony.

Peppermint Ridge — a United Church of Christ-affiliated organization based in Corona, Calif., that serves persons with disabilities — was recognized June 6 as a California Nonprofit of the Year. But at the award ceremony, The Ridge was first, and unique, among equals.

Two of the region’s legislators — Sen. Richard Roth (D-Calif.) and Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes — independently named Peppermint Ridge the 2018 Nonprofit of the Year for their respective districts: the first time a nonprofit was recognized simultaneously by two legislators.

“It is an honor to have Peppermint Ridge named California Nonprofit of the Year not by just one of our legislators, but by both,” says Danette McCarns, executive director. “We were buzzing about it for days.”

According to Cervantes, “For many years, Peppermint Ridge has been a pillar in our region — providing a a loving environment where individuals with developmental disabilities can not only survive, but thrive and reach their highest potential. Their noble efforts to ensuring quality care to their residents is truly inspiring, and I am proud to recognize them as the 60th Assembly District’s Nonprofit of the Year.”

Both Roth and Cervantes met with Peppermint Ridge staff and residents in the past year, says McCarns, and listened to the issues they face.

“Peppermint Ridge is the embodiment of Inland Southern California values. It’s resourceful, respectful, and it recognizes and empowers its residents’ independence,” says Roth. “When I visited The Ridge, I was touched to see the attention to detail and care the dedicated staff gave every resident, going so far as to serve as a forever home for people. Peppermint Ridge was the easy choice to be the 31st Senate District’s Nonprofit of the Year!”

Sen. Roth presents the nonprofit award to Peppermint Ridge.

At the celebratory luncheon June 6, McCarns was accompanied by Board Chair Mike Ryan and ardent Ridge supporters Matt Stopher and Barbara and Jorge Aranguren. The Arangurens are parents of Tina, a longtime Ridger, and were named Peppermint Ridge’s Volunteers of the Year in 2017.

McCarns says the Nonprofit of the Year recognition couldn’t have come at a better time, especially with today’s lack of affordable housing and the rising costs of goods and services.

“The Ridge has served people with developmental and intellectual disabilities for almost 60 years,” McCarns says. “This recognition … will hopefully be helpful in bringing more people into The Ridge that have the heart, skills, and commitment to do this rewarding work.”

As with most health and human service ministries, Peppermint Ridge depends on partnerships formed with local partners. McCarns says she hopes the recognition will assist them in connecting with “community partners that see the need and want to help.”

But most importantly, McCarns hopes the award will help people realize what valuable and contributing members of the community people with disabilities can be, if given a chance.

Peppermint Ridge serves about 100 men and women, providing not only the services specified by the State of California, but also loving homes, friendships, and family.

“Our attitude is ‘Once a Ridger, always a Ridger,’” says McCarns. “This philosophy and daily attitude is what sets Peppermint Ridge apart from most other organizations. [It also creates] challenges for us to work within the system when we can, and find ways to work outside the system when we have to.”

Later this year, Peppermint Ridge will open a new 3,840-square-foot activity center, which will double the size of programming space available to residents and other community members. The Ridge celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019.

“There is an expectation of many of the Ridgers that Peppermint Ridge will be their ‘forever home,’ with their friends and extended families,” reflects McCarns. “This trust … is the charge we have to deliver on with what we do today, and to create a future where each person has a home, family, and friends.”

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