Before she became a fixture in so many San Diego living rooms, Andrea Naversen was a woman in permanent flux.
Growing up in a military family, she lived in six states and went to more than a dozen schools. As a television journalist, she lived in New York and Los Angeles and reported from London, Cairo and many points in between.
It wasn’t until Naversen moved to San Diego in 1988 for a news anchoring job at KFMB-Channel 8 that she was in one place long enough to call her house a home. And once she made herself comfortable, she decided to make herself useful. Many benefits and causes later, Naversen is still giving back to the city that helped her unpack her bags for good.
“I really view San Diego as my hometown,” Naversen, 63, said during an interview at the Country Friends Consignment Store in Rancho Santa Fe. “As the daughter of an Air Force officer, I never had a real sense of place. Home was wherever your parents were. Here, I finally put down roots in a community, and philanthropy connects me to the community.”
For her latest San Diego improvement project, Naversen is chairing Thursday’s “Art of Fashion 2014,” a benefit for Country Friends, a Rancho Santa Fe nonprofit that has given more than $12 million to help fund local charities supporting women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
Founded in 1954 by a group of charity-minded women, Country Friends raises money through events and consignment-shop sales. All proceeds go to their beneficiaries, which have included the San Diego Food Bank, Promises2Kids, the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Canine Companions for Independence. For Naversen, the personal payback has been pretty sweet, too.
“I just fell in love with the ladies here,” Naversen said, as the volunteers in the next room worked on pricing a stack of delicate china. “They come in all ages and shapes and sizes and ethnicities, and they are just tireless volunteers. You have this diversity of women all coming together for a common goal.”
By the time she joined Country Friends in 2009, Naversen was already a force for fundraising good. After her son, Tyler, was born, she spent 10 years with the Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. She served on the national board for the Kids Korps USA community-service group and co-chaired the Nordstrom Designer Preview Show to benefit the New Children’s Museum.
“Having a child of my own and being so swept up in the (parenting) experience made me want to give back to organizations that helped other children,” said Naversen, who left KUSI in 1999 and is now editor-at-large for Ranch & Coast magazine. “It’s really selfish, but I think I do this because I get so much back.”
But first, she has to put a lot in. With a big-name main sponsor (South Coast Plaza); a runway show featuring high-end designers (Donna Karan, MaxMara, Versace); and a schedule that includes boutique shopping, a luncheon and an after-party, the “Art of Fashion” soiree is a high-wire juggling act, and Naversen has to keep all of the pretty balls in the air. If history is any indication, there will be no spills or wrinkles.
“There are people who volunteer who are poseurs, and there are people who are worker bees. Andrea is a worker bee,” said KUSI news anchor Sandra Maas, who worked with Naversen at the station and volunteered with her at Rady auxiliary. “And she has this wonderful ability to get people on board and get people to give. It’s a talent to be able to do that.”
In 2011, the local chapter of Childhelp USA gave Naversen its “For the Love of a Child” award for her decade of service with the child-abuse prevention and treatment organization. Last year, the Salvation Army named her as one of its “Women of Dedication,” a designation that reminds Naversen that when it comes to giving, her roots go way back after all.
“When my mother passed away at the age of 87, I went through her checkbook, and I saw that she had given donations to I don’t know how many organizations. When you added it up, she was giving away a couple of hundred dollars a month. I was so touched by that,” Naversen said with a fond smile. “All of us who do philanthropy are looking to make life better for people who don’t have what we do. Life without philanthropy would be very empty.”