Sunflower Hill, a local nonprofit that supports adults with developmental disabilities, has been selected as the beneficiary to the Sun's OUT Fun's OUT Virtual Fun Run, a fundraiser of the Alameda County Fairgrounds reimagined because of the pandemic.
The event, which will run from June 19 to June 28, was originally set to be held on the opening Saturday of the Alameda County Fair. However, due to county's stay-at-home order and the cancellation of the annual fair, the fundraiser has been adapted virtually as a 5K run or walk.
And it is now not restricted to local participants. As a result of the fundraiser becoming remote, registration has no location boundaries. Anyone from anywhere can participate.
Participants can register themselves as a team as apart of the fundraiser to make a donation. Teams will also receive a free 2021 fair admission and virtual fitness classes from JOYA and Dragonfly Yoga. To take part in the event, it costs adults $25 and $10 for those under 18 years old.
Based in the Tri-Valley, Sunflower Hill aims to create residential spaces for adults with developmental disabilities. In addition, they provide employment opportunities for disabled adults.
While the shift to online operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be seen as a challenge to some, Sunflower Hill continues on with more project updates and changes to activities.
"When the shelter-in-place order was placed, we immediately knew our program participants with developmental disabilities are very accustomed to their routines," Edie Nehls, executive director, told the Weekly on Friday. "So it can be very unsettling for those routines to be disrupted. We knew we had to act quickly."
As a response to this call to action, Sunflower Hill created an online activity program.
Now in its 10th week of an online-only system, the program is hosting online activities through pre-recorded videos such as recipes, arts and crafts, yoga classes for all abilities and functional fitness classes. These videos not only serve as recreation for program participants but to individuals in whole Tri-Valley. Recently, Sunflower Hill has created a weekly chat reserved for only program participants.
"We're very fortunate to have a young, creative, and resilient staff that is tech-savvy and immediate comfortable with the shift to this online platform," Nehls said. "We're carrying forward our voice of joy and connection with one another while continuing to engage with our program participants."
The Sunflower Hill Garden in Livermore is also continuing strongly. In fact, while the stay-at-home order has been placed, Sunflower Hill has donated over 400 pounds in produce. Currently, the organization is selling organic produce on Thursdays and Sundays. At $25 per box, each week's list of a variety of plants and vegetables that are posted every Monday on the Sunflower Hill website. All proceeds go directly back to the organization and its efforts.
Sunflower Hill has also been giving back to the community by donating produce to organizations like Shepherd's Gate, a nonprofit that offers housing programs for women and children escaping abuse, homelessness and addiction. Produce is additionally going to other nonprofits like Culinary Angels and Tri-Valley Haven.
"Our team is really dedicated to ensuring that the food we're growing is getting into the hands of people who are most vulnerable in our community," Nehls said.
Recently, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch, the nonprofit's housing project in Pleasanton for developmentally disabled residents, is one month from completion, according to Nehls.
Irby Ranch is now in the resident qualification process. Nehls said she foresees having residents move in mid-summer. The Satellite Affordable Housing Associates are furthermore handling the qualification lease out process with regional centers in the East Bay.
Despite changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, Sunflower Hill has adapted diligently. Sunflower Hill is not only excited about the Irby Ranch project but determined to keep going, according to Nehls.
"At the beginning of the whole pandemic, it felt like we were on this ever-shifting pile of sand where we would make a decision about how we were going to do something -- then things would change," Nehls said. "We had to go forward."