What do storage units, Mother Teresa, and Experience Camps have in common? They’ve all been impacted by the work of the Caster Family Foundation. Terrence Caster's 60 year career in the real estate development industry includes industrial, residential, retail, and beginning in 1983, self storage. To this day, if you’re driving in California, you’re bound to see a blue and orange A-1 Self Storage sign.
The Casters are a family of philanthropists dedicated to serving communities across the country. With the success of the storage business, the family created the Caster Family Foundation. “As a business it’s easy to grow quickly and get caught up in what it could be. It takes a lot of self acceptance to say I have enough,” says Elise Caster, granddaughter of Terrence Caster. "My grandparents knew what enough was early on and were intentional about investing not just in the growth of their business but in making the world a better place along the way."
The Caster family, local to San Diego, focused on tangible issues that would affect the communities closest to them. In 1998 they were introduced to Mother Teresa and began a working relationship supporting her Mexico ministry. Together they built an orphanage and shelter for the homeless of Tijuana. “I was a child when we went down to Mexico to meet with Mother Teresa. It really left such an impact on our family. Especially as children, being taught from such a young age that philanthropy and giving matters.”
Year after year the Casters utilize their foundation to give out grants to charitable organizations. “The family is very much into practical giving - clothes, food, etc, but we also now know how important it is to focus on the whole person. Mental health is so important. We want to find organizations that lead with the heart, focus on emotions, mental well-being, and mindfulness.” said Elise, who now works in the family business and is a junior member at the Caster Family Foundation.
Elise first heard about Experience Camps through Sunil Arora, a career coach and Experience Camps board member. Moved by the mission, she knew that this was an organization that clearly lead with the heart, and was focused on making space for kids to share and be themselves. She knew she wanted to share Experience Camps with her grandmother, Barbara.
"Experience Camps was the last grant that I spoke to my grandmother about before she died this past August. Discussing an organization that focuses on the loving action of protecting and caring for the emotional and spiritual needs of children challenged us both to talk about emotion in a way we hadn't before. I'll call it the Experience Camp compound affect. The camp will no doubt inspire countless others to have deeper conversations about the importance of understand emotion at every age. I will always be grateful for the meaningful conversation my exposure to the camp inspired."