Woman leaves $22 million to SPCA Monterey County, largest gift in its history

SALINAS – A $22 million gift from a longtime supporter will enable the SPCA Monterey County to renovate an existing building, construct two more and establish an endowment.

Through the generosity of Claire R. Jacobson, who died in December 2020, SPCA Monterey County will break ground on a major campus expansion this fall. It was the largest gift in the history of SPCA Monterey County.

Jacobson left the gift to the local animal shelter and humane education agency that she supported passionately in life with the stipulation that SPCA Monterey County fund capital improvements and/or an endowment.

“We’ve received some generous gifts in the past,” said SPCA President and CEO Scott Delucchi. “This is the biggest single donation the SPCA has ever received.”

The SPCA president said he learned the size of the donation a couple of weeks ago and described being humbled, elated, grateful and a little bit shocked.

“Claire’s generational gift speaks to her trust and confidence in the SPCA,” said Delucchi. “Her incredible generosity and compassion will live on and change countless animals’ and people’s lives.”

To honor her wishes, the SPCA will renovate its Education Center, construct two new buildings on its Salinas campus across the street from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on the Monterey-Salinas Highway and establish an endowment.

Claire Jacobson was a passionate supporter of the SPCA, devoting much of her time, energy, and resources to the care of animals. She enjoyed the company of her beloved dogs and was an accomplished horsewoman. She was also a longtime teacher in Salinas elementary schools, according to the SPCA.

Delucchi said with the gift, SPCA Monterey County will increase its ability to keep pets and families together by building a new training center and providing permanent space for its free pet food bank. The SPCA will also improve life for pets and people in the community by renovating its education center, providing additional space for its cruelty investigations team, building a new TLC center to care for the most vulnerable pets and continuing its focus on low- and no-cost spay/neuter, humane education and rescuing all types of animals in need.

The SPCA’s renovated education center will be renamed the Claire R. Jacobson Learning Center.

Delucchi said Jacobson would have cherished nothing more than to see children in the county having the opportunity to experience SPCA education programs including the popular and impactful summer animal camp. The SPCA’s capital project will restore this campus jewel and allow the agency to reach and inspire even more children.

The SPCA’s new training center will more than double the SPCA’s current capacity for dog training classes and consultations.

The training center will also house the SPCA’s cruelty investigations team. Highly trained investigators respond to 700 to 950 calls per year and bring animal abuse and cruelty cases to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

The SPCA’s second new building, the TLC building, will allow specialized staff to house and rehabilitate dogs with behavioral challenges.

SPCA Monterey County’s expansion project will include renovating the education center, and building a new Training Center, and TLC Building which will also house its Pet Food Bank. (SPCA Monterey County) 

The second building will also house the SPCA’s pet food bank, a free service for the community. Most years before COVID-19, the SPCA distributed about 5,000 pounds of pet food. In 2021, the SPCA gave away more than 100,000 pounds of pet food due to the growing need, which continues today, helping keep pets with their families.

The new Claire R. Jacobson Endowment will support annual SPCA operations, with a specific focus on critical animal care and rehabilitation, youth education, and low- or no-cost spay/neuter.

Typically, organizations draw 4% to 5% annually from endowments to help fund operations, and, by law, cannot draw more than 7%.

Delucchi said that while this gift significantly increases the SPCA’s ability to help the animals and people who rely on it, the organization will remain dependent on supporters of all levels for the great majority of its annual funding.

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