Later Saturday morning, I stopped by Axis Community Health's clinic on Railroad Avenue where the mood was more somber. As usual when Axis opens it doors, mothers with very sick young children patiently awaited their turn to be seen by an Axis nurse and doctor for medication and advice on how to help their child. These are some of the 14,000 patients Axis will see this year, most of them from the Tri-Valley including Pleasanton who have little or no health insurance, many without jobs and all without the festive smiles I saw a few minutes earlier a block away on Main Street.
Earlier, I talked to Linda McKeever, executive director of Open Heart Kitchen, whose colleagues at the Pleasanton Rotary Club answered her appeal for more than 300 turkeys to feed an overwhelming number of the hungry at hot meal serving lines this Thanksgiving week. Her organization, which served almost 217,000 meals last year and is seeing a 25% increase so far in 2011, is the Tri-Valley's only food bank. As she puts it, Open Heart Kitchen is often the bridge that enables a family to stay on its feet from week to week.
Both Axis and Open Heart Kitchen operate almost in eyesight of the prosperous, festive downtown I saw last weekend and during these past few days leading up to Thanksgiving. These organizations do good work. They are also among the five beneficiaries of this year's Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund. Contributing a few dollars to the Holiday Fund as the holidays approach could go a long way toward helping the neediest in our community.
The folks I talked to at Axis on Saturday or in the Open Heart Kitchen food line earlier at Trinity Lutheran Church aren't homeless or even necessarily jobless. Some had good company positions before they were laid off and lost both their regular paycheck and health insurance. One man drives a cab, making ends meet with fares he collects driving those with full-time jobs home from BART.
These needs go beyond Axis and Open Heart Kitchen. Three other nonprofits are also on this year's list of Holiday Fund recipients: Hope Hospice, the Ryan Comer Cancer Resource Center at ValleyCare and Valley Humane Society. Each provides special care in our community and deserves our support. A recent survey showed that Americans are giving about 3% less this year compared to 2010. This downward trend affects these five local charities, and at a time when their needs are growing.
That makes contributions to the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund even more important and for at least two reasons:
* For every $1 given to the Holiday Fund, the Tri-Valley Community Foundation will provide another $1 in matching funds up to a total of $100,000, this year's campaign goal.
* Second, all administrative costs are covered by the Pleasanton Weekly.
Unlike contributions that may go to national organizations where administrative costs can skim 15-20% off the top, every dollar contributed here stays here. Also, funds contributed to national charities often don't make their way back here again. Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley are not on anyone's list as a demographic area in need of public aid, even though if you're poor in Pleasanton, you're just as poor as those in other parts of the country. Please join me in chipping in to our hometown Holiday Fund.