Pleasanton Weekly

Column - July 2, 2010

Holiday Fund still working to aid Tri-Valley needy

by Jeb Bing

The Tri-Valley Community Foundation is working with the Pleasanton Weekly and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty's office to continue an economic stimulus program that is bringing hundreds of jobs to the Tri-Valley area.

Called the American Family Recovery Project, the program is using federal and private funds to get unemployed and under-employed family wage earners in Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore back to work. The program especially targets those whose ability to support their families has been threatened by the loss of a job during the current economic downturn.

The Pleasanton Weekly joined in this effort last November when we launch our 2009 Holiday Fund, an annual fundraising effort that helps nonprofits in the Tri-Valley. With 4-to-1 matching funds provided by our partnership with the 2009 Tri-Valley Regional Initiative, a collaborative economic recovery initiative sponsored through the Tri-Valley foundation, the Tri-Valley Business Council and Haggerty's office, we raised a record-high $93,346 in direct contributions and matching funds totaling $373,386. That total of $466,732 is still in use, providing assistance to some of the poorest families in the Tri-Valley.

As part of this effort, we also worked with the Regional Initiative in finding local charities that met the requirements of this federal stimulus program, identifying Open Heart Kitchen, Tri-Valley Haven and Axis Community Health as recipients of $50,000 specifically set aside for their support. Last week, after a full accounting of the fund, we presented checks to the directors of these three agencies, totaling s $16,667. In thanking us for the "generous contribution," Sue Compton, Chief Executive Officer of Axis, said the donation allows that agency to provide additional pediatric medical visits for children from low income working families in the Tri-Valley.

David Rice, president and CEO of the Tri-Valley Community Foundation, said the Pleasanton Weekly's Holiday Fund provided the seed money for this Tri-Valley American Family Recovery Project. Donations were then quadrupled by federal stimulus funds. Rice said an unemployed worker who received a job through the program recently wrote to thank us. "It was difficult to find a permanent job in this economy," she said. "The program has not only helped me maintaining my skill set, but also helped me learning new skills in a different industry."

The federal government has provided California with $1.8 billion for job creation, and Alameda County can draw on this pool of stimulus funding through September 30. In partnership with the Rice's foundation, the Tri-Valley Business Council, the Pleasanton Weekly and Haggerty's office, the American Family Recovery Project benefits employers by referring job candidates who qualify for stimulus funding and by subsidizing 80 percent of their wages and payroll taxes until Sept. 30. There is no limit on the number of positions a company can fill through this effort.

Although the program has been a big success so far, curiously with all of the unemployment figures being listed, we need more workers. We have many companies ready to hire but they need job applicants. To qualify for the program, job seekers must be parents of a child under 18. They must be eligible to work in the U.S., and their household income in the past month must be below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (less than $3,675 for a family of four).

"This program is putting people back to work in the Tri-Valley," Haggerty said. "We lobbied for our share of federal stimulus dollars, and now we can hire even more workers."

The screening and hiring is taking place through September. For more information, email amfamproject@tvcfoundation.org or visit the Project website at amfamproject.tvcfoundation.org. If you know of someone who is eligible, encourage them to apply before time runs out.

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