Assistance League® of Diablo Valley improves lives in the Contra Costa community through its eight hands-on, philanthropic programs. In 2006, the chapter reconfigured Community Programs to umbrella seven short-term programs that were designed to meet immediate, or emergency related needs. At the October 9 regular chapter meeting, Community Programs Co-Chairman Laurie McIntosh introduced Paul Buddenhagen, Staff Assistant to the Director Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services. On this return visit, Buddenhagen praised Assistance League of Diablo Valley for the eight year rapport he has enjoyed while serving in various capacities with the county. He cited the chapter’s Position Statement, “Putting Caring and Commitment into Action” and its website as impressive and inspiring in continuing the mission of United Way’s Week of Caring, i.e., to end poverty by 2020.
Buddenhagen then thanked Community Programs for its role in challenging overwhelming statistics regarding the county’s youth. Recently, member volunteers provided 600 backpacks for abused and neglected youth who are temporarily placed in a receiving center while waiting for a foster home assignment. Feedback from county social workers described the backpacks’ contents, things that are many times taken for granted, as very much appreciated and comforting. This program now includes younger children, as well as the 11-17 age group originally designated.
His second note of thanks concerned a nature-based, soil and seed endeavor where Richmond teens tilled, planted, and harvested produce in vegetable boxes and greenhouses to offset the limited range of healthy foods available in that area. Undeterred when an appeal earlier in the year did not qualify for any of the smaller programs’ requirements, innovative committee member volunteers determined that an Outreach, a onetime request, would offer a solution. Community Programs was instrumental in securing a donated sewing machine, a bolt of fabric purchased at Assistance League Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, the chapter’s primary fundraiser located in Lafayette, and plant and sewing supplies. Buddenhagen shared that, for shopping convenience, several of the Richmond teens had sewn reusable tote bags that included literature regarding food preparation to promote healthy eating habits.
Buddenhagen then shared that while 60,000 Contra Costa County residents qualified for food boxes from Cal Fresh in 2012-2013, only 30,000 were accommodated. He thanked Community Programs’ efforts in defraying this disparity by committee members shopping for and assembling 600 food boxes for Richmond and Bay Point residents, participants in the Cal Works program, who, through no fault of their own, endure as high as a 50% unemployment rate, a minimum wage scale, and recent job loss. Such support not only nourished grateful recipients, it nurtured them. When two community-minded entities such as Assistance League of Diablo Valley and Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services share resources and human talent, those in our community who are vulnerable replace despair with hope in that they realize that they do not have to face hardship alone.
To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s eight philanthropic programs and Assistance League Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, please visit its website: diablovalley.assistanceleague.org. Members of the Speakers’ Bureau are also available to present our story to various organizations who seek funding designations, free of charge. For more information about scheduling a speaker to present to your group, please remain on our website, find the About Us column on the left side of the page, and select Speakers’ Bureau.