This week marks the start of the 21st annual Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund, a time when our news organization asks residents, businesses and community groups in the Tri-Valley to consider donating to support eight local nonprofit beneficiaries this holiday season.
The Weekly is teaming up with the Pleasanton-based Three Valleys Community Foundation (3VCF) to serve as the fiscal administrative partner for the 2022-23 Holiday Fund, meaning that 100% of the money raised will go directly to the eight nonprofits and all donations will be tax deductible thanks to the foundation's own nonprofit status.
The beneficiaries of this year's Holiday Fund will be Axis Community Health, CityServe of the Tri-Valley, Hope Hospice, Open Heart Kitchen, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE), Sunflower Hill, Tri-Valley REACH and Valley Humane Society.
"The Holiday Fund represents some of the most fulfilling work that we do every year, raising vital funding and awareness for these important organizations throughout the Tri-Valley. We're so proud and so humbled to have reached 21 years and counting with our giving campaign," said Gina Channell Wilcox, president and publisher of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division.
"This is always a time of year when the need is significant for nonprofits, and the individuals and families they serve. Add to that the economic strain many people have faced in 2022, and it's clear additional support for these causes in our community is so very critical as we look toward the new year," Wilcox added.
The 2022-23 Holiday Fund will continue from now until the second week of January. Donations will be directed to, and handled by, the Three Valleys Community Foundation, which will also provide all administrative support for the campaign and allow donors to benefit from its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for tax purposes as well as eligibility for corporate matching where applicable.
The Weekly will donate advertising space and marketing services to the campaign. As always, every dollar donated to the Holiday Fund will go to the designated groups -- with each nonprofit recipient garnering an equal share of the total amount raised.
Please consider donating to our giving campaign this holiday season, via PleasantonWeekly.com/holiday_fund. Get to know more about our eight beneficiaries here:
Axis Community Health
A core nonprofit provider in the Tri-Valley, Axis Community Health offers affordable and quality medical, dental and mental health services to low-income and uninsured residents and families in the area.
New CEO Liz Perez-Howe said the nonprofit is thankful to again be selected as a beneficiary of the Holiday Fund, the money from which will support services offered at the Axis dental clinic.
"The fund focuses on the health and well-being of our community members. At Axis, that is what we are about each and every day, for each and every patient. We greatly appreciate that the fund engages more people in the important work we do," Perez-Howe said.
"Donations will support our dental clinic, which provides preventive care, treatment and oral health education. It is the only dental clinic in the Tri-Valley for low-income and uninsured patients," she added. "Poor oral health can have adverse effects on general health, particularly for pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. These funds will provide dental visits for uninsured patients. Many are children and young adults who will be set on a path of life-long good oral health."
CityServe of the Tri-Valley
The funding provided from donors through the Holiday Fund will come at an important time for CityServe of the Tri-Valley, a nonprofit that focuses on connecting local clients with service providers as well as coordinating resources and volunteers among those organizations.
Executive Director Christine Beitsch-Bahmani noted that CityServe over the past year has opened its new multi-service center in Livermore and expanded its services to offer more senior-specific programming based out of Pleasanton -- efforts the Holiday Fund will help support.
"This year with the expansion of our senior specific services, we would like to develop an engaging program to support an important technology gap identified for older adults," Beitsch-Bahmani said, adding:
"This program would include in-person socialization events and basic skill training workshops such as: basic computer skills and smartphone use, learning to create and send an email, how to use zoom or other social platforms for connectivity to doctors, friends or family, how to simply browse on a computer to learn about things that are of interest, how to download a food, shopping delivery or transportation applications on a personal phone and/or how to quickly set up an emergency communications plan in case an unexpected health issue should arise and others need to be notified."
A nonprofit provider of compassionate services for patients at the end of life and support for their caregivers and families, Hope Hospice and Health Services "deeply appreciates" being part of the Holiday Fund family again this year, according to communications director Kendra Strey.
"The donations we receive through the program directly benefit patient care needs and help keep our community programs available to the public at no charge," Strey said. "Residents from the Tri-Valley and adjacent East Bay cities can utilize our dementia-care education resources, family caregiver classes, and grief support services even if their loved one is not on our hospice service."
In its last fiscal year, Hope provided 675 hours of one-on-one support sessions and 58 hours of support groups for people through its grief support program, as well as facilitated 102.5 hours of support groups and 169 hours of education and consultations for residents caring for a loved one with dementia.
"The community's generosity makes this all possible," Strey added.
Open Heart Kitchen
Another critical organization fulfilling a vital role for the well-being of many in the community, Open Heart Kitchen serves prepared, nutritious and free meals to people and families facing food insecurity throughout the Tri-Valley.
"We are so grateful for the support of our donors, volunteers and community partners. The donations go towards the ingredients, supplies and preparation of food for our meal programs," outgoing Executive Director Heather Greaux said of the Holiday Fund.
"We think of every meal as a chance to help the most vulnerable populations in our community find a better future," she added. "As we enter the new year, we are excited to be opening our new kitchen and dining room at the Vineyard 2.0 Project and the Open Heart Food Bank in Livermore."
Funds raised by the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation go toward staffing, programs and grants supporting all public schools within the Pleasanton Unified School District -- and outgoing Executive Director Steve McCoy-Thompson noted that PPIE was particular thrilled to be back at schools in-person this year.
"It's truly an honor to be selected as a beneficiary. The Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund supports organizations that are making a real impact on Pleasanton residents. So to be included means we can help more students and their families in the community," McCoy-Thompson said.
"We use the funds for two important programs," he explained. "They help fund our annual grants for STEM projects that give students hands-on experience with science and technology. And we help provide support for our foster students in the community to help them thrive and grow."
Focused on a truly underserved community in the Tri-Valley, Sunflower Hill aims to provide residential, vocational and educational opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Advancement director Pamela Zielske said much of the nonprofit's success to date has been thanks to the generosity of local residents, including those who have contributed to the Holiday Fund.
"Donations made this year will support our program at the Sunflower Hill Garden in Livermore, which provides vibrant educational, therapeutic, and life skills training for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in the Tri-Valley," she said. "In addition, the Sunflower Hill Garden produces thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce each year, which is planted and harvested by our program participants and donated to local nonprofits.
"Your support enables us to fulfill our mission to create places and spaces where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live, work, learn and thrive as part of the greater community," Zielske added.
A longtime Holiday Fund beneficiary, Tri-Valley REACH -- formally Resources Education Activities Community and Housing for Special Adults of the Tri-Valley -- strives to provide residential opportunities to allow adults with developmental disabilities to live independently.
"The support of our community year after year is what enables REACH to provide affordable, safe, and quality housing for our most vulnerable population," said Board Chair Kay King, who highlighted mobility projects at multiple REACH homes this year as "several of REACH's tenants are aging and their needs are changing."
"The one constant issue facing our community is affordable housing and it is even more pressing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are classified in the extremely low-income bracket," she continued, adding:
"REACH is pleased to share that together with the support of the city of Pleasanton, REACH is creating independent living for four more individuals through accessory dwelling units (ADU's). Funds raised from the Holiday Fund will be instrumental in creating these four new living opportunities."
Valley Humane Society
Serving the local pet community and their human companions, Valley Humane Society has seen the need for its services continue to rise -- at a time when the rate of animals entering shelters far exceeds the adoption rate statewide, all while the economy is showing signs of reduced donations, according to the nonprofit's president, Melanie Sadek.
"For the past 3-1/2 decades, Valley Humane Society has been committed to helping both people and animals in the Tri-Valley by strengthening our shared bond, and we can't overemphasize the importance of the community's participation in fulfilling our mission," Sadek told the Weekly.
"We've made a huge effort to increase awareness around the need for community involvement and adoptive families by launching a national campaign called #SharetheCare," she said. "We are also excited to see our Phil Scholz Veterinary Surgery Center open early next year, to increase lifesaving outcomes for adoptable dogs and cats by expanding veterinary opportunities for our local rescue partners and, ultimately, to serve our community at large."