Posted on October 15, 2020 Al Greater-Placer Nugget
Written by Carol Barry
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
On a beautiful Sierra Foothills day, we might be hiking along the Yuba River or reaching our gloved hands down into rich soil to nestle new plants into the garden. Or arranging pumpkins on the front porch. Just down the street, the mother of three young children rests, recovering from her third stroke in two months. To make matters worse, her husband had lost his job due to COVID-19 layoffs. And soon, they would be forced to move because the place they were renting was in the process of being sold!
Life can turn upside down in a myriad of creative, unforeseen ways, and it can happen to any of us, our friends, neighbors, children, aunts & uncles, our parents. When it does, especially if family or friends reside far away, or if COVID-19 further limits options, where would we turn? Assistance League® of Greater Placer is often a part, sometimes a big part, of the solution, as they were in this case. A family in distress was referred to our Chapter’s Operation School Bell Program by the counselor at a local middle school. Our volunteers took the three kids shopping at Target for clothes and other members from our Feet Treat program took them to buy new shoes afterwards. A Community Assistance member also went shopping for them, providing toilet paper, laundry soap, deodorant, Ziplock bags and other household needs, and delivered them to the family. A day later, the member received a text:
“Thank you so very much. We are beyond appreciative of your time and efforts to help complete strangers. God Bless You!”
Since March, 2020, Our Community Assistance Committee has received 38 requests for goods or services from community agencies such as Kids First, Placer County Office of Education, In-Home Supportive Services or Sutter Auburn Faith Visiting Nurses. Needless to say, Community Assistance has been VERY BUSY during COVID-19 shelter-in-place requirements!
Currently, eighteen community agencies have agreements with Assistance League of Greater Placer’s Community Assistance Program. Each of these agencies assists low-income individuals and families in Placer County. When they are aiding persons who have an immediate and significant need, the agencies reach out to request help from our Chapter. Before Governor Newsom’s executive order prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent, Community Assistance provided rent assistance to twelve families of young children in the Kids First programs. These families could then stay safely in their homes and keep their children in school. Sometimes a request can be filled by another Assistance League Committee, such as School Clothing or Feet Treat.
Another Community Assistance member helped a woman who was a victim of domestic abuse and was living in a safe house provided through Stand Up Placer. She injured her back at her in-home care job and was unable to continue to work in that capacity. During the delay in receiving her unemployment disability, she fell behind in car insurance payments and was facing cancellation. Fortunately, Community Assistance was able to pay her past due premiums, ensuring that she would be able to drive to find employment and continue with physical therapy.
Earlier this year, Placer County Office of Education requested assistance for a mother and three children who had fled their home due to domestic violence, leaving all possessions behind. Social Services helped them secure new housing and was able to find furniture and bedding, but there was still a need for basic household items. With no computer, mom could not shop online for the items she needed. A member of Community Assistance met her at Walmart. As she shopped, the mother added the cost of each item in her head so that she could stay within the budget for items like a microwave, lamps, rugs, pots and pans, dishes, silverware and even the perfect shower curtain for her kids. After loading the items in her car, she had tears of joy, followed by a huge smile. She was very thankful and excited, too, about surprising her kids.
Community Assistance receives an amazing variety of requests and weighs each one carefully. It gives us deep satisfaction to be able to help the neediest of community residents, whether it’s with PG&E bills, phone bills, DMV payments, car insurance, dental emergencies or roof repairs. We’ve even provided mattresses and furniture, pots, pans, lamps and vacuum cleaners. A visiting nurse requested help for her clients, an older married couple with limited income. The husband had had a stroke and needed to be in a wheelchair all the time. But the wheelchair proved much too heavy for his wife to lift in and out of their car for doctor and physical therapy appointments. Relying upon friends for transportation, they found that scheduling became a serious challenge. Community Assistance was able to purchase a lightweight transit wheelchair for them. The couple was so appreciative to be able to travel to medical care and take shopping trips together again.
Not all requests come from community agencies. Sometimes a chapter member submits a request for a significant need that they would like the Community Assistance Committee to consider. Sometimes school personnel refer a student or a student’s family to one of Assistance League’s school liaisons. All requests, regardless of the source, are considered on an individual basis, as they arise, by the entire Community Assistance Committee. Even private school or home schooled students are eligible, providing they reside in Placer County or Lake of the Pines.
If you would like to serve on Assistance League of Greater Placer’s Community Assistance Committee, or just learn more about the program, please contact Committee Chair, Sharon Herlihy, at email@example.com.