Ruelene FF2 Donation 2008
Girsh Park Announces Major Gifts

by: Erin Graffy



The Board of Directors of Girsh Park have announced major gifts totaling $295,000 to date, essentially half of their $600,000 goal for the Field Forever 3 Campaign at Girsh Park.


Especially poignant was a bequest of $100,000 provided from the estate of Ruelene Hochman who was the daughter and only child of Dr. Lester and Viola Girsh, the lead benefactors of the Park.

“The board was really touched by this,” said Ryan Harrington, “When Ruelene passed away last August, the Park had lost a very dear friend, and someone who had been a strong supporter since the park’s very first opening days. But even in her passing, we were heartened to find Ruelene was continuing to provide for Girsh Park. Her bequest is being applied to our Field Forever 3 Campaign. Her contribution, together with a gift of $30,000 from the Hutton Foundation (through their Core Support Grant Program), we have jumped to nearly half our goal of  $600,000 for that campaign.”


The park originally opened as “Camino Real Park” in 1999. It was named the Lester A. and Viola S. Girsh Park, shortly after Ruelene and the Girsh and Hochman Families gave over $2,000,000 to start an endowment for the Park. Before the Camino Real Marketplace was developed, the property had been previously owned by Dr. and Mrs. Girsh who allowed Little League baseball and other youth sports to use the field.


Previous contributions by the Girsh and Hochman families included a  $550,000 donation to Fields Forever 2 to install synthetic turf for the “Girsh-Hochman Soccer Field” 


Created as a a non-profit park for the community, Girsh Park provides a significant array of youth and adult sports and other recreational activities for the Goleta Valley.

“Girsh Park subsidizes youth and adult recreation programs, so they can rent field space at a very affordable rate, and in turn, making these activities very affordable for families.” explained executive director Ryan Harrington. “We are able to sustain our programs through fundraising, support from the City of Goleta, and the park’s endowment. Without this support our fees would be much higher for the users.”

Girsh Park subsidizes youth baseball and soccer in the ballpark of $100,000 per year. Organizations such as Dos Pueblos Little League, AYSO, Santa Barbara Soccer Club, and US Youth Volleyball League, take advantage of low cost facilities for their programs. This also includes programs for special needs children such as Challengers Baseball, VIP Soccer, Special Olympics Programs, and Challengers Flag Football.


Ruelene’s bequest of $100,000 will be directed toward Girsh Park’s latest campaign, Fields Forever 3 Capital Campaign to create a Field House and park improvements. A Field House will provide much needed restrooms, a concession stand and storage.An upgraded batting cage, new walking paths, new playgrounds and better accessibility for disabled park users will also be implemented. Another important consideration are the programs for special-needs children, including DP Challengers Baseball, Challengers Flag Football and the AYSO VIP program. 


Daniel Hochman, son of Ruelene Hochman articulated the family’s intent.


“The family’s goal for Girsh Park is to provide open recreational space and great sports programming for the youth of Goleta and surrounding communities,” he explained, “Our dream is that it always remains affordable and sustainable and that the community continues to recognize the value of the park to families, and to support the Park for future generations.”

Ruelene Hochman (center) and her son Daniel Hochan gives a $550,000 pledge to Kim Schizas of Girsh Park in support the Fields Forever 2 Capital Campaign in 2008.


Girsh Park restroom Trailer
Major Gift from the Girsh and Hochman Families Launches Fields Forever 3 Capital Campaign

Girsh Park is asking the community to help improve the facilities at the Lester A. and Viola S. Girsh Park with the new Fields Forever 3 Capital Campaign. This campaign will help better support the existing programs at Girsh Park, including Dos Pueblos Little League, AYSO soccer, DP Challengers and AYSO’s VIP Soccer Program, to name a few. Each of these nonprofit organizations has partnered to attain the goals of the Fields Forever 3 (FF3) Capital Campaign.

FF3 will build a field house in the Elings Fields Complex to support the programs that use those fields. The field house will contain a full-service concession stand, restrooms and storage for the programs to utilize. Among the most important driving factors for this new campaign are the programs for special-needs children. The programs include DP Challengers, Challengers Flag Football and the AYSO VIP program. All children deserve a facility that fulfills their needs and allows them to participate in their favorite sports. This campaign will create better ADA access with proper walking paths, fully accessible restrooms, picnic areas and ball fields.

Girsh Park users currently utilize a portable restroom trailer generously furnished by MarBorg Industries. MarBorg answered the call for help three years ago when Dos Pueblos Little League and Girsh Park reached out to the community for a solution. This trailer is very temporary, and it is time to replace it with a permanent solution.

In addition to the field house, a covered group picnic area will be installed, the batting cage facility will be dramatically improved, ADA walking paths will be installed along with path lighting, the electrical capacity for the complex will be updated, and proper security cameras and lights will be installed to ensure the safety of users.

The original playground will be replaced with two modern age-appropriate playgrounds. The foundation believes the playgrounds will be a focal point for the park and utilized by children of all ages. All of these improvements will make Girsh Park a better place for the community to recreate.

The fundraising goal for Fields Forever 3 is $600,000. The campaign and construction are expected to be completed over the next 18 months. Several naming opportunities are available for the field house, group picnic area, batting cage and playground. The naming opportunities will be noticeable for the 350,000 people who use Girsh Park every year, giving campaign donors the recognition they deserve.

Two initial donations have officially kicked off the campaign. The Girsh and Hochman families have once again stepped up to the plate and donated $150,000 to FF3. Without the support of the Girsh and Hochman families, Girsh Park would not be what it is today. They have continually supported the park, and once again are assisting to make Girsh Park a better place for the community. Additionally, Dos Pueblos Little League has donated $10,000 to the campaign.

The Fields Forever Campaigns over the last decade have yielded significant net community benefit by improving the facilities at Girsh Park. In 2005, the original Fields Forever Campaign raised $6 million to purchase the 13-acre parcel at Phelps and Pacific Oaks roads. The facility was named Elings Fields at Girsh Park for the park’s most generous benefactors. This purchase permanently located the baseball fields that Dos Pueblos Little League so desperately needed, and increased the size of the park to 25 acres.

In 2008, the Fields Forever 2 Campaign raised $1.25 million to install a state-of-the-art synthetic turf soccer field. Girsh-Hochman Field, named once again after the foundation’s most generous donors, now allows year-round play with little maintenance.

With the community’s support, the Foundation for Girsh Park completed Fields Forever 1 and 2. With the community’s help, Fields Forever 3 will be a home run. To become a sponsor, donor, or find out more information about FF3 contact Ryan Harrington, Executive Director (805) 968-2773 x3 or

Sign Up for our Off-Leash Dog Pilot Program!

The Foundation for Girsh Park has created a new off-leash dog program that is focused on socializing your best friends.  The Girsh Park Off-leash Dog Pilot Program is designed to allow limited off-leash dog activity in a fenced and controlled space during the following designated hours. 7am-10am Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as 1pm-3pm Tuesdays and Thursdays .

Location: The program will only take place inside the fences of the Multi-Use Meadow located in the Elings Fields Complex

Field closures: The Multi-Use Meadow will be closed for turf maintenance and due to weather as needed. Turf maintenance usually occurs in January for 4-6 weeks. This program will be suspended during weather related and turf maintenance closures.

Program begins: Tuesday September 20, 2011

Cost: $65 per dog

Purchasing your membership: Memberships will go on sale Tuesday September 20th at 9am.  Memberships must be purchased in person with your dog(s) during Park Office hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays 9am-2pm. Your dog(s) must be at least 6 months old, and spayed or neutered.  You must also have a current Santa Barbara County license to qualify for membership.

A total of 30 dogs will be admitted on a first come, first serve basis. Each family in the program may register up to two dogs. The program operates on a yearly basis starting in September of each year. Renewals and applications will normally be processed in August. The Park will conduct the application process in the office. Once tags are sold out, a waiting list will be created. Existing program members will be given the ability to renew their membership each year. Once the registration cutoff date is reached, all open program spaces will be sold to the general public. The following Code of Conduct must be followed in order to conduct a safe environment for off-leash dogs at Girsh Park. Any participants that do not adhere to the following guidelines will be removed from the program.


· Dogs in the program may only use the designated Multi-Use meadow during the above times.

· Dogs must be on a leash prior to entering, and upon leaving the fenced area.

· All dogs must be on leash in any other area in the Park.

· Dogs must be within sight and under voice control at all times

· Dogs must have a current program tag on their collar to use the Multi-Use Meadow

· No more than 20 dogs are permitted in the Multi-Use Meadow at once

· Owners must have one leash per dog in possession at all times

· Owners must obey all posted signs, schedules and directions from Park Staff

· Overly aggressive dogs must be removed from the field immediately

· Owners must collect and dispose of all dog waste. Mutt-mitts are located throughout the Park

· Dogs displaying symptoms of illness are not allowed

· Digging is prohibited

· Animals other than dogs are prohibited

· Children under 12 are not allowed

· All other children under the age of 18 must be supervised by an adult

· No more than three tagged dogs per person are allowed on any single visit

· Any dog attacks or bites will be reported to animal control and will result in expulsion from the Park

For more information call Freddy Ornelas (805) 968-2773 x1 or email

Girsh Park is Goleta’s Park!

When it comes to parks in Goleta, Girsh Park is the only park that serves the critical need for active recreation in the entire Goleta Valley.  To many residents, Girsh Park is one of the most important aspects of their everyday lives.  Everyday day at Girsh Park walkers of all ages stroll along the parks many paths, dog lovers and their four-legged companions romp in the acres of grass, teenagers and children play soccer and baseball on the fields and diamonds, and pickup games are an hourly occurrence on the basketball courts.

The Foundation for Girsh Park serves more than 350,000 people just like you every year. Our mission is to develop, maintain and enhance Lester A. Viola S. Girsh Park to provide all community members with affordable, high quality park and recreational facilities in a safe, attractive and healthy environment.

We serve the young and the young at heart through an array of programs and activities.  Girsh Park is the home of Dos Pueblos Little League, DPLL Challengers, AYSO Soccer, Central Coast Soccer League, Santa Barbara Women’s Soccer Organization, Foresters Baseball Camp, Full Count Fundamentals Baseball, Santa Barbara Lacrosse Association, G-Land Baseball, US Youth Volleyball League, and the list goes on and on.

Girsh Park is also the home to an array of community events throughout the year.  The 4th of July Fireworks Festival, the California Lemon Festival, The Goleta Egg Hunt, Wag N’ Whiskers Festival, and many more are held at Girsh Park.  You can also hold parties, picnics, weddings, barbeques and special events at Girsh Park.

Unlike most parks, we are not owned or operated by the city, county or state. We are a 501(c) (3) non-profit foundation. Our mission is to develop, maintain and enhance Lester A. and Viola S. Girsh Park to provide all community members with affordable, high quality, park and recreational facilities in a safe, attractive and healthy environment.  Our community partners such as Marborg Industries, Cottage Health Systems, City of Goleta, Montecito Bank and Trust, Camino Real Marketplace, and individual donors like you help to keep the Park open to the public year round.  Girsh Park is a wonderful example of a very successful public/private partnership focused on providing recreational facilities and opportunities for the community.

As you can see there is something for everyone at Girsh Park.  To find out more information about our programs, facilities, or to make a donation to Girsh Park, please visit or call Executive Director Ryan Harrington at (805) 968-2773 x3.

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