Local Business Pair Donate $50k, Urge Others to Join Effort

As the grim reality of an unraveling economy begins to grip Pasadena, with nearly 20 million Americans filing for unemployment aid since coronavirus precautions have shut down businesses, many local nonprofit organizations have been scrambling to put emergency services into place and ramp up operations to meet the rise in needs, from food insecurity to homelessness to social services.
And while the nonprofit sector has jumped into action, some business owners are underpinning the widespread effort to help.
One such pair of local businessmen, Pete Kutzer of Edgewood Realty Partners and Patrick Chraghchian of Adept, began watching in disbelief in late March as measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 cascaded in closures across the city where they’ve worked and socialized for decades. Colleagues were shuttering small businesses and restaurants in tandem, and healthcare friends were suddenly at risk. They began to hear of job losses spreading across the city.
“We knew we wanted to find a way to help fight COVID-19 in the greater Pasadena area, and we wanted to build some momentum from the business community as a whole to help underpin that,” Kutzer said. “We could see the need is obvious and immediate, and we didn’t want to wait any longer when we were in a position to help now.”
Together, Edgewood Realty and Adept have donated $50,000 to a dozen local nonprofits, many of which provide support to first responders, medical care, food distribution or other social services, including Union Station Homeless Services, Huntington Hospital, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Pasadena Police Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, Muse/ique, Young & Healthy Pasadena, the Armory Center for the Arts, and Friends In Deed.
Both Kutzer and Chraghchian have been involved in nonprofit volunteerism over the years and were familiar with what the shut downs would mean to all of the respective spring charity galas and fundraisers.
“Pasadena has such an incredible group of nonprofits that bring comfort and hope to the community and bring vibrancy to our town … so many have been strained financially during a time when the community needs them the most,” Kutzer noted, adding he reached out to longtime acquaintance and friend Jennifer DeVoll, president/CEO of the Pasadena Community Foundation, who immediately connected him with some of the organizations in need of immediate assistance.
Meanwhile, Chraghchian was brainstorming about how else to help, apart from donating money.
“It’s something we’ve done for years — supporting the community and supporting the people who are doing good and kind things out in the community. But we really thought it was a good time to do something extra for those who are also going beyond the call of duty for all of us,” Chraghchian said. “I’m not optimistic about things going back to normal very quickly, but I expect we will all have to adjust to a new normal somehow. I suppose it felt like it might be easy to wait and see how things evolve before making a decision, but we thought if you’re going to make an impact, that need is now. We didn’t think we should just sit on the fence and do nothing when the immediate need is now. And we hope other businesses will join us in doing anything they can, too.”
Chraghchian hopes he and others can donate more money further down the line, but in the meantime, he has also mobilized to help make connections to increase the manufacturing of face shields and masks. With a brother in Las Vegas in the window film manufacturing business who was able to pivot operations to create plastic face shields, Chraghchian was able to arrange for a donation of 100 plastic face shields to the city, a task he sees as “minimal” when compared to those on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Us giving money or donating is really not important compared to what our first responders are doing — the reality is this is the easy part. I just want to make sure what we are doing is helping and not taking away from what others are doing, too. I figure if I can help and make things just a little better and safer in the city, then I have an obligation to keep doing it.”
Pasadena Community Foundation, which manages funding for local charitable assets, has said it is thankful for business owners like Kutzer and Chraghchian and other donors who have offered immediate financial relief to nonprofits, noting that any amount, no matter how large or small, makes a difference in the lives of those suffering. Some of the smallest donations at PCF start at $25, DeVoll noted, but it all adds up.
“I think it’s fantastic what Pete and Patrick are doing,” DeVoll said. “The business community is having its own crises, and for them to step up in this way when everybody’s situation has been diminished is really telling of the commitment in Pasadena to support our nonprofit organizations. It’s a great effort, especially their message, which is that ‘If you are in a position to help, you should.’”
To learn more about helping or donating to local nonprofits, visit PCF’s website at pasadenacf.org.

Leave a Reply