It is no secret that the citizens of Rancho Santa Fe appreciate a high standard of living and overall affluence. But while the community certainly boasts an opulent lifestyle, it more importantly advocates for philanthropy and good will. Take, for example, Rancho Santa Fe resident Jerry McTaggart.
In 2005, McTaggart founded Catherine’s Kids orphanage, a home for medically fragile children. Today, it houses 11 children in need.
“We want to see the kids have a better life, whatever better is,” McTaggart said. “If they have a smile on their face, that’s successful. And they’re smiling. They never cry. When people visit they see happy kids who will snuggle up to you in a minute.”
The cause hits home for McTaggart. When he was 8 years old, his mother gave him up to an orphanage because she could no longer care for him. It was this event that led McTaggart to dedicate his life to helping those in need.
The home is named after his mother, Catherine, who remained in McTaggart and his brother’s life even while they lived in the orphanage. Some of the children’s families, like McTaggart’s mom, are able to remain present in the children’s lives.
McTaggart first got the idea to found an orphanage after taking a mission trip with Horizon Christian Fellowship. He noticed that there was a special-needs population that was being underserved, and wanted to create a facility that would rival what one might find in the U.S.
In 2005, he bought a three-building complex from Calvary Chapel in Mendocino. Churches and volunteer groups traveled to Rosarito to help transform the complex into a comfortable home.
Since then, Catherine’s Kids has come to involve all aspects of the child’s life, with a mission that states, “to transform the lives of underprivileged or abandoned, medically fragile special needs children by providing a loving and nurturing home where their emotional, medical, educational and spiritual needs are met, giving them an opportunity to live to their full potential.”
Today the facility is home to 16 employees and 12 volunteers, including a principal and teachers on staff. The children attend school at the facility.
McTaggart works closely with the orphanage’s director, Jan Platovsky. “Jerry is a man with a heart that you commonly do not get to see in people. He knows true suffering and understands the needs of those who have been seriously neglected in our society,” Platovsky said.
McTaggart considers himself the father of 11 very special children, but said that the orphanage could get four more children this year. While the average child costs about $200 a month to care for, the medically fragile children at Catherine’s require about $2,000 a month.
He is looking for more people to get involved. “There is so much need,” he said. “What we need is sustainability.” The nonprofit recently held a fundraiser at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
Those who want to get involved can sponsor a child with monthly schedule donations, or donate annually. Volunteers, including doctors, caregivers, and builders, are also in need.