For Fallbrook residents Paul and Diane Garrett, life is pretty simple: “Do what you can, for those you can.”
“He had the idea for The BetterWorld Trust when he was in 20s,” Diane Garrett said. “He even got his incorporation.”
The BetterWorld Trust is Paul Garrett’s lifelong vision of creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Focused primarily in the sectors of child development, health and environment and economic development, The BetterWorld Trust hopes that “by working together, we can make ours a better world now, and for generations to come.”
“My dad would say I want you to know that we can because we expect you to do better than us because we didn’t have anything, and we are helping you,” Paul said. “It’s deep in our family, my grandfather, my dad and I have been very impressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson and his way of thinking. It involves doing good for other people.”
Paul, who is a self-professed animal lover and a bit of a cowboy, got his first horse at 5 years old. He said from an early age, he set out to be successful. He was an apprentice cattle buyer, before becoming a cattle buyer.
“By the time I was 24, I had made enough to last me all my life,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘what do you do? You can’t quit at 24,’ so I took the money I made in the cattle business and set up four corporations and BetterWorld.”
Paul said he wanted to make The BetterWorld Trust happen to make a difference in the lives of others.
“That was what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I set up the corporations and BetterWorld, and then I went off and bought this big ranch, a 15,000-acre ranch. I am a 24-year-old kid and it’s up in northeastern California, a place I never spent any time in. I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.”
Paul hit some hard times and lost the ranch over a period of three years and the idea of The BetterWorld Trust went dormant.
“I had to start over and came back and went back to work in the packing house as a cattle buyer and ended up getting enough money together to buy a small income property in Los Angeles. I parlayed that one in about three or four years into $7,500 which I used as a down payment to buy a place in Hemet and that started this,” he said.
At the time only 3,000 people lived in Hemet, it was the “big town” in southwest Riverside County. He brought several ranches in the area and jump-starting his next “success.” Two of those ranches are now Diamond Valley Lake, Diane said.
Over the years, Paul worked in real estate and as an organic farmer, as well as joining some other people in purchasing the Hollister Ranch, 40,000 acres and 7 miles of coastline in Santa Barbara. The idea of BetterWorld remained there, hovering around in the back of his mind.
Eventually he sold off Hollister Ranch, parcel by parcel; he had a family, traveled, became one of the first organic farmers and helped to start the first farmers market in Southern California, among many other adventures.
“The idea was to be successful again and to use that success to make the world a better place that was the point of it, and it still is,” Paul said. “In 91 years, you do a lot of things. It was just a lot of life. I’ve done a lot of things.”
In 2000, nearly 50 years after he first thought of the concept of people helping others to become the best that they can be, Paul’s dream of BetterWorld Trust finally became a reality
“We thought where do we start,” Paul said. “I thought this has to start at home.”
The couple decided to focus on the area from Fallbrook to San Jacinto.
“So, we got involved in health, housing, hunger, quality of life and education,” Diane said. “We have five major areas when we got started.”
Paul said some of the areas they work in include Boys and Girls clubs, libraries, schools, children in foster care and scholarships for high schoolers. They decided that their focus should be on children because they can change the entire path for each child’s life if they can help them early on.
“They have their whole life in front of them,” Paul said. “You can get more done by helping a young person who really gets it because they can then go out and help others.”
Eventually, The BetterWorld Trust branched out to provide services to not only those in need within the local community but to others suffering around the world. The plan was to make the world a better place both now and for future generations.
The geographic focus of the global program is focused upon the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Southern and Southeast Asia and Latin America. The couple considered India, but eventually decided against it.
“We knew the need, so we went to Africa where we could do so much more,” Paul said.
Diane said that her first real experience with poverty literally knocked her over.
“I was raised in a middle-class family,” she said. “I come from a humble beginning, so when I first experienced poverty, I could barely get up. It just knocked me down.”
Paul said going to Africa then coming back and having lunch and spending more on that lunch than most in Africa live on in a month, was a real eye-opener.
From there, the mission of BetterWorld blossomed and became what it is today.
“For me fighting poverty is the thing that runs my life right now,” Diane said. “How do you fight poverty? You have to be educated and then after education you have to have an opportunity to somehow better your life, but in order to do all of that you have to be healthy.”
All of three things fit in with BetterWorld’s mission, a mission that Paul said has been impactful on his life as well.
“Interestingly, I found emotionally, one of the biggest impacts on me has been foster kids who do not get a fair shake,” he said, adding that he didn’t have any personal experience with fostering. “I have an emotional pull. But, foster kids, they get the short end of the stick.”
So, what is next for this humble “power couple” whose life focuses on philanthropy and helping others? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, Paul and Diane Garrett won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
“I think being satisfied is a waste of your life,” Paul said. “I call it working on the instrument, I’m constantly working on the instrument and I’m not done yet.”
About The BetterWorld Trust
BetterWorld partners with organizations using two distinctive approaches, grant making and venture philanthropy.
The nonprofit’s grant making is the result of fact-based research about programs and organizations that work within BetterWorld’s three primary focus areas, child development, health and environment and economic development.
According to its website www.betterworldtrust.org, they consider a grant as an investment in the process of creating solutions to challenging issues. Grants are based on BetterWorld’s guiding principles, objectives and strategies and the desire to make this a better world.
The BetterWorld Trust makes grants to organizations that are classified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Grants are made to public charities only, not to individuals or for-profit organizations.
BetterWorld’s venture philanthropy objective is to reduce poverty and improve the economic prospects of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs through concentrated investments of money, human endeavor and expertise. They work with organizations that provide small and medium business entrepreneurs access to capital resources they might not otherwise find available to them. They invest capital in undertakings designed to produce long-term benefits, operating income, goods or services.