The 20th annual Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund is now underway, with the 2021-22 fundraising drive set to provide critical financial support to eight Tri-Valley nonprofits this winter through contributions from local residents, businesses and community organizations.
New this year, the Weekly is collaborating with a fiscal administrative partner based in the Tri-Valley, the recently established Three Valleys Community Foundation (3VCF) -- but, just like in years past, such a partnership will guarantee that all Holiday Fund donations are tax deductible and 100% of the money raised will go directly to the eight nonprofits.
The nonprofit beneficiaries of the 2021-22 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.
"For the 20th year, we are asking our readers to turn their thoughts to those in need," said Gina Channell Wilcox, publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly and president of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division. "The ongoing pandemic and the economic impact it created, coupled with inflation, have left many residents seeking assistance from local nonprofits. We hope our Holiday Fund will offer a financial boost to the organizations at a time when the need is paramount."
Wilcox added that the Weekly is excited to partner with a locally based fiscal sponsor for this year's fundraising campaign.
"Because the foundation is headquartered in Pleasanton and serves the Tri-Valley, 3VCF's leaders see the needs of our neighbors through a local lens and have already established relationships with donors and nonprofits," she said.
Susan Houghton, founder and board member for 3VCF, said the new organization was honored to partner with the Weekly as one of its early charitable efforts after its founding this year.
"The Holiday Fund is an important anchor of philanthropic support for our community and offers local residents the ability to learn more about the valuable nonprofits serving our region," Houghton said.
"As a new community foundation, place-based philanthropy is important to us," she added. "Connecting local resources with local needs is what it's all about. The PW Holiday Fund is a perfect example of how we can pay it forward so our community thrives."
The 2021-22 Holiday Fund will run 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 recently approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for tax purposes as well as eligibility for corporate matching.
The Weekly will donate marketing services and advertising space to the campaign. As always, every dollar donated to the Holiday Fund will go to the designated groups -- with each beneficiary this year receiving an equal share of the total amount raised.
Learn more about the eight nonprofits below, and please consider contributing this holiday season.
Axis Community Health
As a healthcare provider for people and families with a low income or no insurance in the Tri-Valley, Axis aims to promote the well-being of patients by offering quality, affordable, accessible and compassionate health services.
"The pandemic has brought many challenges to the way we deliver medical care, and telehealth has become an important part of our medical services," CEO Sue Compton told the Weekly. "As the pandemic continues, we are maintaining our COVID testing and vaccination services, which are available to everyone in the community."
Compton said part of Axis' adjustment to remote healthcare has included sending blood pressure cuffs to allow very at-risk patients' measurements to be monitored from home -- an effort Holiday Fund donations will help sustain and expand.
"This will provide an important link between our vulnerable patients and their medical provider during the pandemic and beyond," she added.
CityServe of the Tri-Valley
With a "care wheel" model of service assessment, CityServe of the Tri-Valley offers help connecting clients in need with support in the areas of basic needs, emotional wellness, physical health, financial stability, vocation/education, and community and connections.
Executive Director Christine Beitsch-Bahmani said the nonprofit is grateful to be named among this year's Holiday Fund recipients. "Every penny makes a difference and with our concentrated effort focused on the Tri-Valley donors can feel really good about making an impact right here, right now in their own backyard," she said.
Between July and September of this year, we served 191 families in the Tri-Valley with care coordination, most of whom are low to extremely low income, 89 homeless and 51 female heads of household," Beitsch-Bahmani said. "In October we had over 1544 client contacts and we are well on our way to surpass that number in November."
All contributions this year will help us support each unique family that we work with to accomplish their goals," she added.
From its humble beginnings 41 years ago through to now, Hope Hospice and Health Services continues to support patients and their loved ones with compassion and dignity during end-of-life care, including physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of patients and educational services for their families.
"Hope Hospice was founded in 1980 by a group of concerned citizens right here in the Tri-Valley. In fact, for many years, we operated out of a makeshift office in a Pleasanton home. We are deeply connected to our community and are honored to help local families care for their dear ones at the end of life," said Kendra Strey, director of communications.
"Hope Hospice strives to provide care of the highest quality, far beyond the minimums required for Medicare certification. Thus, a lot of our services rely on financial support from donations and grants," Strey said, adding:
"We make our grief support, family caregiver resources, and dementia education available to the community at no charge, regardless of whether their loved one is on our service. The Holiday Fund supports these initiatives."
Open Heart Kitchen
The critical core services offered by Open Hearth Kitchen have become that much more vital during the pandemic and associated economic impact -- serving prepared, nutritious, free meals to people facing food insecurity in the Tri-Valley, with a particular focus on underemployed adults, low-income seniors and children of families in need.
"Thank you to the Pleasanton Weekly and the readers who contribute to the Holiday Fund for your enthusiastic support," said Denise Bridges, development director.
"Contributions to our meal programs directly help individuals and families facing food insecurity. Your generosity is a strong vote of confidence in our mission, as we face the daunting challenges of fighting hunger in the Tri-Valley," Bridges added.
The Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation strives to support students in all 15 public schools in Pleasanton by providing supplemental funding for staff at campuses such as librarians, counselors, technology specialists and intervention teachers, as well as a range of teacher and student grants for science, tech, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) efforts.
"Our mission is to enhance learning experiences for students through a partnership of business, education and the community," said Steve McCoy-Thompson, executive director. "PPIE receives the majority of funding directly from families in the district with significant support from local and regional businesses."
Holiday Fund contributions will benefit PPIE's annual INSPIRE Grants as well as support the school district's Foster and Kinship Youth Program.
"These INSPIRE grants fund innovative STEAM projects that would otherwise be unavailable to students, such as robotics, coding, 3D imaging and printing, and biotech," McCoy-Thompson said. "PPIE recently also added grants to support distance learning software, which was critical during the pandemic and continues to be an essential part of our dynamic teaching in Pleasanton."
A nonprofit that works to provide residential, vocational and educational opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Sunflower Hill is among the organizations for which the pandemic has had a particular impact.
That's why support from efforts like the Holiday Fund is so vital, according to advancement director Pamela Zielske.
"We're honored to be chosen by the Pleasanton Weekly to be a recipient of their annual Holiday Fund," Zielske said. "We greatly appreciate the generosity of so many Tri-Valley residents whose support this year will enable us to continue to co-develop residential communities and create engaging programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities."
"The pandemic has been challenging for our organization and for those we support, and donations made this year are especially meaningful as we strive to fulfill our mission to create places and spaces where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live, work, learn and thrive," she said.
Formally known as Resources Education Activities Community and Housing for Special Adults of the Tri-Valley, REACH focuses on safe and affordable residential spaces where adults with developmental disabilities can live independently. To that end, the all-volunteer nonprofit owns 11 homes in Pleasanton and Livermore with nearly 40 independent adult residents.
"One thing is very clear, and that is REACH's continued success is significantly attributed to the strong support of our community and its belief in our mission. We would not have made it 30 years without it," Board Chair Kay King told the Weekly.
"The Holiday Fund will enable REACH to perform home maintenance and improvement projects focused on landscape updates, drought tolerant planting, water wise irrigation and functional outdoor areas for our tenants," King said. "Additionally, these funds will assist in forming relationships with Tri-Valley municipalities and private developers to expand our vision to provide additional housing within the Tri-Valley community."
Valley Humane Society
Based in Pleasanton, Valley Humane Society remains committed to help both people and animals in the Tri-Valley by working to strengthen the shared bond between human and pet.
"We believe that dogs and cats belong at home as beloved members of their families," Executive Director Melanie Sadek said. "Ideally no animal should spend time in a shelter, even one as nice as Valley Humane."
Its key efforts include the AniMeals pet food pantry for families in need to help reduce the number of pet surrenders due to food insecurity and the new Phil Scholz Veterinary Surgery Center, which is set to open next year to provide access to one-time surgical interventions for cats and dogs.
"Valley Humane Society also remains committed to supporting the many dogs and cats who by no fault of their own are in need of a new home," Sadek said. "This means providing medical care, loving emotional support, and ultimately a new home with a family committed to their care."
She added, "We deeply value being a trusted nonprofit in this community, and take our fiscal responsibility as seriously as our mission. Those who support the Holiday Fund this year will be helping to make a profound difference in the lives of our community members and their beloved companions."