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Cecilia de Heras, community manager, talks about ideas that she has implemented to raise funds for her HOAs–and how such projects actually help build community.

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[00:00:25.830] – Matthew Holbrook

Welcome to The Uncommon Area. I am Matthew Holbrook, and today’s episode is all about creative ways for homeowners associations to foster community as well as to raise a little bit of money for their communities. Here to talk about that today with me is the manager of Tustin Meadows, Cecilia de Heras, and just appreciate you joining us for this episode.


[00:00:49.340] – Matthew Holbrook

You’ve had a lot of different experience and just opportunity to help associations raise money for various reasons. What are some of the things that they should be thinking about?


[00:00:59.660] – Cecilia de Heras

Well, thank you for having me today. First and foremost, you want to make sure that you have a good communication with the homeowners by having all of their emails and as many as you can get that helps in any kind of an event you’re going to do. You need to have their actual way to communicate with them, be via email, blast and things like that. Once you have a lot of the emails, then you can reach out to local realtors that sell a lot in the area.


[00:01:31.000] – Cecilia de Heras

They are more than willing to help you with these events and pay for some of these events because they want to be there. They want to get in with the community and meet people. They’re more than happy to donate a shredder company to come out, and do some a Dumpster days event, and maybe do Farmer’s Market, where they-


[00:01:56.430] – Matthew Holbrook

Slow down right there. Dumpster Day event, what is a Dumpster day event?


[00:02:01.460] – Cecilia de Heras

At Tustin Meadows, we purchase 10 40-yard dumpsters. The homeowners can come and dump any items like wood, trash, metal. They can bring items that are maybe still working, a vacuum cleaner or something that’s still working, but they don’t need it, so we put those off to the side. Then they just come and dump.


[00:02:24.700] – Cecilia de Heras

We have a little check-in area, and they come in, and show their ID, and then we have them located. Go to the dumpster that is the wood, or the trash, or the landscaping material, the green dumpster. Once they do that, they can go and drop off their e-waste. Well, the e-waste is a free service that you can get from a local person that does that, that’s registered and licensed to do that.


[00:02:51.970] – Cecilia de Heras

They take all the information off your computers once they have it, so make sure you go with a company that actually will take their information off and is licensed to do that. They will actually send you a check. It could be $160, it could be $200. It’s a small amount, but at least it’s something, and the homeowners get something out of it.


[00:03:15.040] – Cecilia de Heras

We also have some free books. We have a person that comes out and gives free books to the kids. You can donate books. This event is all about getting rid of things you don’t want, cleaning out your house, doing your spring cleaning, and just making sure that you’re providing a good service for the homeowners, and they are being able to use that. It’s one of our biggest events. We actually do it twice a year.


[00:03:39.960] – Matthew Holbrook

Okay, great. Then you mentioned Farmer’s Market. What is the Farmer’s Market as it applies to an HOA?


[00:03:45.880] – Cecilia de Heras

We sell tables and we have them set up in the clubhouse and outside in the parking area. We sell the tables to anybody that wants to come in and sell either craft items or food items like fruit and things off their tree. Or if they’re a vendor that likes to go to the Farmer’s Markets and sell different miscellaneous things, they can come.


[00:04:10.410] – Cecilia de Heras

We sold tables for $25, but I know that you could probably sell tables for more than that $50. You could also utilize your local park and have a permit from the city and use that if you don’t have a clubhouse. There’s different really inexpensive ways to have these events and include your vendors like your restaurant people and your realtors.


[00:04:35.240] – Matthew Holbrook

Just within the community, people who are inspiring the neighborhood.


[00:04:38.500] – Cecilia de Heras



[00:04:38.790] – Matthew Holbrook

Okay, great.


[00:04:41.080] – Cecilia de Heras

Then doing those events, getting realtors involved, having all the connections, getting these communications with all of these homeowners, email blasting them saying, “Hey, Farmer’s Market is a Saturday. Come out.”


[00:04:55.650] – Matthew Holbrook

What kind of participation do you get in something like a Farmer’s Market?


[00:04:58.550] – Cecilia de Heras

We just started doing that. We had about 40 people selling at our last one, so we’re just trying to-


[00:05:07.040] – Matthew Holbrook

How many homeowners would actually come to the Farmer’s Market?


[00:05:10.400] – Cecilia de Heras

We had about 50 people come, so it wasn’t as much as we wanted. But that’s why we kept the table amounts low because we weren’t able to guarantee that they were going to get a lot of people coming. We wanted to keep it low enough to where they just want to do it and it wouldn’t be a big burden on them.


[00:05:28.780] – Cecilia de Heras

But once we get more of a bigger crowd coming, then we’ll probably raise the table fees for that. We may move it to the outside area in the park, which would allow us to have way more tables and more income from that. But that is definitely a good one to have if you have the opportunity for a clubhouse situation or nearby park.


[00:05:54.790] – Matthew Holbrook

Right. What are some of the other creative things that you’ve done in your community?


[00:05:58.770] – Cecilia de Heras

We do all kinds of different, like bubble masters, where we do bubbles. We do Easter egg hunts, and a lot of these are sponsored by the realtors. If you open them to the community, you can definitely charge admission for some of these things.


[00:06:15.330] – Cecilia de Heras

We now have, in conjunction with our 4th of July events, we also have a concert in the park. That would be another event where the realtors would pay for the concert, and then they could set up tables on the side, and you could sell tables to that as well. That’s a new event for us. Last year, we did the concerts in the park, so we did four of those.


[00:06:36.620] – Matthew Holbrook

Where do you go to get somebody to make the music for the concert?


[00:06:40.430] – Cecilia de Heras

You can go to your local places like your restaurants that have entertainment and ask them if they have friends. We’ve been using School of Rock. They have a good program, where they have the kids come over and they’re practicing, but they’re good. They come in and they play, and they actually play for our 4th of July events.


[00:07:04.050] – Cecilia de Heras

Ice cream socials, pizza nights, things like that, they’re all good events that the association members love to go to. There are opportunities for some funds to come to the association.


[00:07:19.180] – Matthew Holbrook

Beyond that, it’s just helping to foster community and generating a lot of value and benefit to your residents.


[00:07:25.670] – Cecilia de Heras

Right. You also have a lot of volunteers that you need for these events as well. Getting people involved and getting these relationships with the realtors and local businesses and service people, just all in all makes for a good event and turnout.


[00:07:43.510] – Matthew Holbrook

Yeah, that’s great.


[00:07:44.820] – Matthew Holbrook

Anything else that I should be asking you about?


[00:07:47.910] – Cecilia de Heras

No. Maybe 4th of July. The 4th of July, the mayor comes from the city of Tustin. We’ve been on the register. They come and report every year. We have a 5K in the morning. We have a parade in the circle, and we have a carnival, which we have incorporated Tustin High School.


[00:08:08.970] – Cecilia de Heras

Tustin High School comes in and does the barbecue, and they make all the food. They get all the funds from that. Carnival is done by the Tustin High school and all the kids, and all the boosters do each of the carnival events, the games and stuff. They get all the money from that for the carnival games.


[00:08:28.720] – Cecilia de Heras

The parade is awesome. We have the sheriff’s department comes out, the fire department comes out. Of course, again, the mayor comes out, and we have cars that are donated for that event. It’s become really big now.


[00:08:42.180] – Matthew Holbrook

Yeah, that’s great.


[00:08:44.390] – Cecilia de Heras

It’s a lot of fun.


[00:08:46.150] – Matthew Holbrook

Good for you. Well, I appreciate what you do for Tustin Meadows and how you find creative ways to really meet the needs in that community. I hope that generates some creative ideas for you, and I would encourage you to keep watching for additional episodes.