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Interview with Lenila Batali, Founder of the D’Vine Path Program

Interview: D'Vine Path Program

Today in our Friends of Fallbrook 501c3 Highlight, we speak with Lenila Batali, founder of the D’Vine Path Program. D’Vine’s mission is to provide a dynamic and comprehensive program, including vocational and life skills training, to adults with developmental, intellectual, and/or learning disabilities in the agriculture, hospitality and arts industries.

Please tell us a bit about yourself!

My husband and I have lived in Fallbrook for 23 years. After growing up in a city like San Francisco, I love the small country feel of Fallbrook and being able to bump into friends while shopping! Fallbrook is a beautiful and peaceful place with a loving and giving community.

We have a 29-year-old daughter, Tiana, who has autism and it is a challenging, yet rewarding lifestyle. Living in a kind-hearted place like Fallbrook, where I know my daughter will be treated with dignity and respect, is priceless. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. And the TREES that surround Fallbrook are so majestic. Every day, when I used to drop the girls off at Potter Junior High, driving the winding oak tree lined road, I always commented how beautiful this town is! It’s been years since they’ve been out of school but I am still commenting about the trees here.

I am blessed to say that I have lived a fantastic life; married 33 incredible years to my best friend, Brent, mother to 2 super sweet young ladies, Tiana and Serena, a supportive family, great friends, a cool house on top of the hill, and a job that I love. We have had our share of trials and tribulations like breast cancer and autism, but we rallied and made it through to the other side with a greater appreciation of life. I now always say ” Have fun, be flexible and be grateful.”

How, when and why did you start your charity work?

My husband and I are entrepreneurs by nature and have owned our businesses since 2003. I was inspired to start D’Vine Path because of our 29 year old adult daughter, Tiana, who lives with autism. To add some fun, I was always very active in her high school special ed class providing hula and art classes. Because of my active participation in the school, our working ranch was asked to be part of the High School Workability1 program in 2011, where we offered an agriculture experience to the high school students. I enjoyed working with this special population of students so much we started D’Vine Path. There was a need for something different in Fallbrook and we filled it. We serve students 22 and over to give them purpose and exposure to new and exciting industries in viticulture, agriculture, hospitality and art. I am proud to say the program has been very successful. I am grateful to the Fallbrook Community for the amazing support they have shown to our program and students!

What challenges have you faced? 

Being financially solvent is always a challenge in any business, let alone a non-profit. A successful non-profit starts by creating a strategic plan detailing where your funds are going to come from, besides donations and fundraising.

Also, being a non-profit founder and leader is very challenging. There are many groups of people I answer to; my Board of Directors, my staff, my students, the parents, the volunteers, and the community all while maintaining my family life and providing for my daughter’s special needs.

Tell us why you love what you do?

My work is about solving problems. I’m continually seeking and creating opportunities for our students that sparks their interest so they thrive. I receive so much joy witnessing a student find their passion. I love what I do because I find it so gratifying to watch our students learn something new and feel empowered. I love that they are owning their space loud and proud in the community. My work is witnessing life down to its truest essence; the sweet and the painful. And knowing it’s all worth it.

If you could do it differently, would you?  

I wouldn’t do anything differently. I believe my journey is what it is meant to be and I am the product of all my experiences, good and bad.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by many people around me. I am inspired by people who give their 100% to a cause- whether it’s their family or a craft.

If you could give advice to someone considering a philanthropic venture, what would it be?

  1. Be financially solvent and have a plan for your nonprofit. Make sure you have some kind of steady funding stream, besides fundraising.
  2. Be nice to people. Being nice is so underrated! Every grumpy person you meet has a story to tell and put yourself in their shoes. You will get more accomplished with a good attitude.
  3. Be persistent. Usually you have to talk to at least a few people to get to the person that actually knows the answer!
  4. Enjoy the ride.

What’s next for you?

Personally, I have given all my time and energy to building D’Vine Path for the past 5 years. Now that I have an incredible team to run all the programs, I feel I can spend some time focusing on my family and my life, watercoloring, gardening, boating and traveling.

Professionally, I would like to consult and help others create dynamic programs like ours.

Contact & Links:






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