Written by Carol Barry

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

~ Howard Zinn

Approximately one year ago, several Assistance League® of Greater Placer members put their heads together regarding a NEW IDEA for helping others in our Greater Placer communities.  “How is that possible?”, you may ask.  “Our chapter already assists or supports 12 philanthropies!”

Yet, every year, we usually host a “cluster” meeting and ask our members a question:

            “What would you like us to do that we are not doing?”

It’s a challenging question because Assistance League members already do so much to support people whose lives need some help.

The feedback from the 2020 cluster meeting was that our members wanted to address homelessness and hunger in Placer County.  It was agreed that we could do more to help feed and care for displaced community members. There are so many ways that a neighbor’s ability to afford shelter and support a family can be tragically undermined. 

A task force was formed and a recommendation was made to the chapter’s Board of Directors, who took it to the membership in the Spring of 2021. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of forming a new program called REACHING OUT to help address these rising needs in our community:

            a) Hunger

            b) Clothing

            c) Basic Supplies

            d) Winter Coats

Here’s what the new REACHING OUT program looked like in its first year:

HUNGER: Having a hot, home-cooked meal can really mean a lot.  Our task force discovered that The Gathering Inn Mid-Placer provides roughly one hundred dinners daily for those who qualify for their rehabilitation programs, and gladly accepts HELP preparing these dinners. HELP is what Assistance League does, so a few teams, of 4-5 members each, were formed to prepare meals every month at the efficient Gathering Inn kitchen.  A lifetime of experience cooking meals for families is now put to good use! “We try to be very original in our menus,” one volunteer explains. “Some teams make meat loaf, others ‘wing it’ with teriyaki chicken legs or donated turkey.  Another favorite is taco salad . . . we’ll consider any meal that provides critical protein in the diet.”   

CLOTHING: Our Thrift Shop recycles any overflow of donated clothing to Gathering Inn, 7th Day Adventist, Auburn Police Department and several other entities who dispense clothing to those who need it.  Some of these recipients even send excess donations abroad!

BASIC SUPPLIES: Dedicated member volunteers provided 50 waterproof backpacks to homeless recipients.  These backpacks were filled with ponchos that convert into tarps, flashlights and batteries, water bottles, socks, hand-knit hats, hand sanitizers, masks and decks of cards. 

WINTER COATS: Our 2021 Fall Coat Drive produced over 500 donated coats which warmed people in Auburn and Roseville last winter.

By all accounts, our first year REACHING OUT was most gratifying.  At present, with our first year under our belt, we already have approximately thirty volunteers for this program! We are gearing up for our program’s second year with glad hearts and ideas bursting forth to make our reach even broader.   

“It wants to get bigger!” exclaims one of the founders, Lyne Mullens.

“And we will be there to make it happen,” adds Clare Dendinger, co-founder.

They know in their hearts that Assistance League of Greater Placer volunteers will find new ways to feed and HELP Placer County’s homeless population.

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.”

~ Nelson Mandela


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