The 2014 Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund campaign is now underway, a time when we ask our readers to turn their thoughts to supporting local nonprofit agencies and services that care for those in need year-round.
It's also a timely effort. Even with a much-improved economy this year, nonprofits are faced with increases in the numbers of people they serve.
For example, Axis Community Health -- the Tri-Valley's sole provider of medical and mental health services for individuals and families who have a low income or who are uninsured -- will serve more than 14,000 residents this year. Its variety of services include medical care for children, adults and seniors, prenatal care and women's health services, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol recovery services, and a WIC nutrition program.
More than 25% of Axis's patients are children under 12. The families who depend on Axis are the working poor; 95% of Axis medical patients have a family income less than 200% of the federal poverty level, which is less than $46,100 a year for a family of four. Last year, Axis provided more than 2,000 medical visits that were uncompensated.
Axis has five service sites that are located throughout the Tri-Valley. Its staff of 155 includes physicians, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals and a large team of support staff.
To meet this increased demand for services, Axis is building a sixth service site located at 5925 West Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton, which is scheduled to open next fall.
"We are proud to be selected as a recipient of the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund again this year, and we look forward to being able to provide more medical visits for low income Tri-Valley families who would otherwise have no access to health care," said Sue Compton, chief executive of Axis.
Gina Channell-Allen, president and publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, said the fund is especially targeted at meeting the unfunded and under-funded needs of Tri-Valley agencies, such as Axis.
"Given the increased numbers of individuals and families who continue to need help, the Holiday Fund can help agencies such as Axis keep pace with the services needed," she said.
Contributions to the 2014 Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund will be distributed in two tiers, with 75% of all dollars raised going to Axis, Open Heart Kitchen, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, Valley Humane Society and ValleyCare Health System.
The other 25% of the contributions will go to Agape Villages Foster Family Agency, Hope Hospice, REACH, Sandra J Wing Therapies and Senior Support Services of the Tri-Valley.
Again this year, the Weekly is partnering with Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), which will handle all finances related to the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund. This will allow donors to take advantage of a tax deduction for the dollars they contribute through the foundation's 501(c)(3) status to the fullest extent of the law.
Also, the Pleasanton Weekly and Silicon Valley Community Foundation will handle all costs of the campaign. That means that every dollar will go directly to the 10 nonprofits with no administrative expenses.
Besides Axis, beneficiaries of contributions made to the Holiday Fund are:
Open Heart Kitchen
Open Heart Kitchen is another Tri-Valley charity that is again on the Holiday Fund list for 2014.
"We served over 281,000 meals in 2013 and a growing need has motivated us to increase our programs," said Linda McKeever, executive director. "We now serve six low-income senior centers, have added more schools to the children's box lunch programs, and have expanded the program to serve lunches during the summer months. We have also added longer hours and additional sites to our hot meal programs."
McKeever said the Weekly's Holiday Fund has been "extremely helpful in allowing Open Heart Kitchen to expand its programs and keep up with the growing need in the community."
Also in line for Holiday Fund help this year is Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, an organization that has a collaborative relationship with the Pleasanton Unified School District and contributes to the needs of Pleasanton students and educators.
The organization hosts two community fundraising events each year, and also raises funds through donations and grants from regional companies and organizations.
"We appreciate the generosity of the community whose donations through Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund last year helped us achieve our goals," said Susan Hayes executive director.
Valley Humane Society
Another benefiting organization is the Valley Humane Society, an all-volunteer group that rescues, treats and finds homes for abandoned or injured animals. It does not euthanize unless health problems dictate. Its mission also includes educating others on responsible pet ownership. While donations primarily support animal rescue, VHS also provides assistance to people.
"Low-income families receive help caring for their own pets, the soothing support of therapy dogs is offered to those who need healing and young people have many opportunities to experience the powerful difference they can make while learning a love of animals," said Melissa Adkins, VHS marketing and development manager.
"We work to create a brighter future for cats and dogs by encouraging and strengthening the bond between people and pets," Adkins said. "Programs for people include Canine Comfort therapeutic pet visitations for those in need of healing, Paws to Read sessions at local libraries helping early readers improve their skills and humane education."
ValleyCare Health System
ValleyCare, which has served the Tri-Valley since 1961, is being acquired by Stanford Health Care with an affiliation agreement expected to be completed in December. During the transition, the ValleyCare Foundation and the services and other hospital needs it supports will need the ongoing funding provided by the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund, including the health system's breast cancer programs.
"Cancer touches each of us in some way, and with one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the U.S., we are targeting funds toward our breast cancer program at ValleyCare," said Denise Bouillerce, director of ValleyCare's Marketing/Public Relations and Charitable Foundation.
"As a not-for-profit health system, any donations given to ValleyCare assist us in providing these specialized health services to people right here in our community," she added. "We are grateful to all who give so generously."
Hope Hospice is a Dublin-based organization that serves patients and families in Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore, Alamo, Blackhawk, Castro Valley, Diablo, Danville, San Ramon, Sunol and surrounding communities in the East Bay.
"On behalf of the staff and volunteers of Hope Hospice, I thank the Pleasanton Weekly for including Hope Hospice as a recipient of the 2014 Holiday Fund," said Victoria Emmons, Hope Hospice CEO. "With the generous gifts from the community via the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund, Hope Hospice is able to work with hundreds of families as they chart their path while dealing with a loved one's final journey."
Hope Hospice provides ethical hospice care, transition services for those not quite eligible for hospice, bereavement support for adults and children, and community education.
Also slated to receive funds in this year's Holiday Fund campaign is REACH, an acronym for Resources Education Activities Community and Housing for special adults of the Tri-Valley.
Established in 1990 by a group of concerned family members of developmentally disabled who wanted their loved ones to be able to live locally, the group's goal is to provide safe, quality living environments where residents learn self-efficiency and live with dignity and respect.
"Tri-Valley REACH is very pleased to be selected as a beneficiary of the 2014 Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund," said Brian Gentry, a member of the REACH board of directors.
Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation
Again on the Holiday Fund's list of beneficiaries is the Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation. Funds that go to this organization help provide cancer patients with the benefit of complementary therapies to help alleviate the side effects caused by radiation and chemotherapy.
The group is supported entirely by generous donations, including those from the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund.
Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley
Another beneficiary will be Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley, an independent nonprofit agency serving seniors over 60 in the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Sunol. The group was established in 1981 as a "Friendly Visitor" volunteer program serving 35 seniors. It has since grown to include programs that annually serve more than 5,600 seniors in the Tri-Valley area, and this year is expanding its one-stop resource shop to meet these needs.
"We are so thankful to be part of the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund," said Marlene Petersen, executive director. "These funds contribute to helping seniors go through the process of changes one goes through with age, such as the loss of a loved one, friends, the ability to drive and hear well, and many other meaningful experiences we often take for granted."
Agape Villages Foster Family Agency serves children and families throughout the Tri-Valley by recruiting, training and supervising foster families. Agape provides safe and loving foster homes for children who have been abused and neglected. Since its inception in 1958, it has provided foster care services to about 6,000 children.
"We provide a nurturing environment for youths until they can be reunited with their biological families," said Jennifer Oxe, the organization's community engagement director. "And when reunification is not possible, we work to find caring and loving parents who are dedicated to a lifetime commitment."
How to Give:
As the Holiday Fund is a donor advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, please direct your donations to:
Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund
c/o Silicon Valley Community Foundation
2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300
Mountain View, California 94040
Checks should be made payable to Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Or donate online.
All donations will be acknowledged shortly after being received.