Vicki Brown is an amazing lady. No other way to say it. She is not only the CEO and president of DPI Labs Inc., an aerospace engineering company in La Verne, she is also the founder and CEO of Sowing Seeds For Life, a charitable organization that feeds some 6,000 people in need per month.
Sowing Seeds, or SSFL, has grown from a small garden project in 2007 into one of the East San Gabriel Valley’s most significant charities.
Vicki was given $100 by her church to use for good works, so she planted some seeds in order to grow produce to donate to families in a mobile home park.
“When I first planted those seeds,” she said, “I had no idea what it would become. I could never have imagined it.”
SSFL distributes food regularly on the first and third Wednesdays of every month from 3-5 p.m. at 1350 Arrow Highway. SSFL also has several satellite pantries at various locations and times throughout the month. It gives away about a million pounds of food per year.
For its commitment in the fight against hunger, SSFL in 2011 won the prestigious Los Angeles Regional Food Bank award. In April of 2013 she was honored by the University of La Verne. Note photo with this story of Vicki and university president Devorah Lieberman.
The non-profit community outreach program also provides children’s educational aid, housing, medical nutrition and social services. In addition, the charity operates a community farm at Falcon Ranch, a 45-acre spread owned by John Defalco in the foothills of San Dimas Canyon.
One of SSFL’s major events is its annual “Christmas in the Park,” held every December at Ganesha Park in Pomona. Families get needed food and services and children get gifts and goodies, plus a photo with Santa. A second Christmas gift giveaway that also includes photos with Santa is held later in December at DPI Labs. The sixth annual “Christmas in the Park” will be held Dec. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. SSFL is also a major contributor to Treshold Aviation’s “Christmas in the Hangar” on Dec. 22, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. An estimated 3,000 people were served at this food pantry last year.
Another major event is SSFL’s annual Easter Basket giveaway which features photos with the Easter Bunny.
The charity’s biggest fundraiser is its annual celebrity golf tournament. The first three were held at Sierra La Verne County Club, but the last two were held at Glendora County Club.
SSFL’s fifth annual celebrity golf tournament for charity on Oct. 7 featured appearances by Dodger legends Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell and Al Downing. An evening sports panel discussion moderated by the L.A. Times’ Bill Dwyre of San Dimas featured Russell, Downing, former UCLA quarterback Matt Stevens and retired Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.
After experiencing a few growing pains its first year, the tournament has become one of the biggest of its kind in the East San Gabriel Valley, attracting an impressive array of sports celebrities.
In 2010, four of the people on the NBA’s list of the 50 greatest players of all time were there in 2010 – Jerry West, Bill Sharman, Elgin Baylor and James Worthy. Dodger legends Bill Russell, Tommy Davis and Al Downing were there. So was former UCLA basketball coach Jim Harrick. And Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre, formerly the newspaper’s longtime sports editor, moderated a most memorable roundtable discussion that included West, Worthy, Russell and Harrick.
In 2011, the roundtable included legendary horse racing announcer Trevor Denman, former Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen, former Lakers and North Carolina basketball player George Lynch and Dwyre. Larry Stewart, a former Times sportswriter and a member of the SSFL golf tournament committee, served as the moderator.
The 2012 tournament topped them all. Roy Firestone, nationally known sportscasters and entertainer, put on his acclaimed one-hour variety show that includes sports bloopers, impersonations and singing. Firestone generally charges corporations $20,000 to put on this amazing show. But he donated his time to Sowing Seeds for Life, thanks to Vicki Brown and her esteemed golf committee. Plus, Firestone said he is 100% behind any charity like SSFL that feeds the hungry in this country.
Even though Firestone received a standing ovation for his performance, the highlight of the tournament came during the live auction when special guest Bob Miller, the Hall of Fame announcer for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, donated the Stanley Cup shirt off his back for $3,000.
When one bidder offered that amount, Miller whipped off his shirt right there in front of everybody as the place roared with laughter.
This year’s tournament was another example that shows what Vicki Brown is able to accomplish.
Vicki isn’t solely responsible for making it all happen, but she knows how to connect all the dots.
That’s why she is affectionately called the “Wonder Woman.”
Through her 501 ©(3)non-profit organization, Vicki has generously given of her time, talents and finances to help form a better life for many families in need and also help various area communities as well. Another plus is the positive influence she has on many of her peers by showing them the rewards of giving.
Sowing Seeds for Life Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity
Co-Chairs: Al Snow and Tim Grant
Committee: Vicki Brown, Greg DeSmet, Scott DeSmet, Joseph Feinberg, Bob Greene, Tim Haas, Brian McNerney, Paul Palkovic, Julie Rosenberg, and Larry Stewart
1350 Arrow Highway, La Verne, CA 91750