Trulette Clayes and her family help serve Thanksgiving dinner each year at San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House. She warmly greets children and their family members at the door, while her husband, Jeffrey Partrick, asks whether they prefer dark meat or light meat.
Guests might not know that these gracious volunteers’ commitment to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego runs deeper than any holiday meal. Clayes is co-trustee of the Joseph Clayes III Charitable Trust, a La Jolla–based charity dedicated to furthering the philanthropy of her uncle, its namesake.
The charitable trust’s inaugural gift to the Ronald McDonald House in 2013 was a $3.5 million endowment fund. In 2019, the Joseph Clayes III Charitable Trust established More Than a Meal, a $500,000 matching-gift program to modernize the house’s kitchens and dining areas. These dining facilities typically serve more than 120,000 meals annually to families in crisis.
Charles Day, president and chief executive officer of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, says Clayes has worked compassionately to create a lifelong legacy for her Uncle Joe. Her Thanksgiving Day volunteer work is just one example of how her family gives back. “It is a great example of Trulette’s heart, compassion, and true commitment to helping others,” Day says.
Likewise, Clayes shares that it’s been fulfilling to meet those who make the Ronald McDonald House a “home away from home” for families with seriously ill or injured children. “It has been lovely,” says Clayes, who’s also a CPA and controller for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. “We really feel like part of the Ronald McDonald House family.”
Trulette Clayes and her uncle’s longtime business partner, Brendan Holmes, are tasked with identifying worthy 501(3)(c) organizations in Southern California that align with the late philanthropist’s charitable interests, which included performing arts, museums, cultural venues, and youth facing physical and mental challenges.
Beyond the Ronald McDonald House, the charitable trust has made sizable donations to Cal State Fullerton’s performing arts center, the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, and the Palm Springs Art Museum.
The charity’s largest gift to date was a $10 million endowment to create the Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics within the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Announced in 2016, the endowment is funding educational programs and research into childhood brain cancers and advanced gene mapping.
Clayes says each of the gifts given by the Joseph Clayes III Charitable Trust has been gratifying, because she knows her uncle would be proud. “These gifts are changing people’s lives, and the lives of these institutions. Every person has a different potential for giving. If it is not monetary, then your time is also valuable to local not-for-profits. Find a charity that is important to you and contribute in any way you can.”