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United Way invests in San Benito

United Way Sticks with Long-Time Programs and Takes on a Few New Ones
Vicki Fortino, Jill MacFarlane, Sylvia Jaime, and Janice Wagy, all with United Way (Ellis photo)
Event was held at Fisher's Restaurant and Catering in Hollister.
Mary Damm gives check to Krystal Lomanto.

Recipients from 26 nonprofits happily received checks from the United Way of San Benito County August 29 at Fisher’s Restaurant in Hollister. United Way’s 2017 “Community Investment” social event was an upbeat evening for the notoriously hardworking nonprofit sector.

United Way grants apply to their goals of helping youth succeed, families become financially stable and independent and San Benito County residents achieve good health. All grants go to local programs only.

United Way coordinator, Vicki Fortino took a moment to thank two major business donors that helped boost the 2017 grant funding. Teknova and Hazel Hawkins Hospital both had very successful employee campaigns that benefited United Way directly. The money earned in 2017, about $80,000 was double what was earned in the previous grant campaign.

There was a round-robin with each grant recipient being awarded their check and then giving some details on the project the funding would be directed toward. It was an opportunity to learn about the many creative solutions local service programs have designed to solve issues specific to San Benito County. Not all recipients were nonprofits, for example Krystal Lomanto, Superintendent of the County Office Education was granted funds for the "Footsteps2Brilliance" reading program. 

Financial Stability

BenitoLink: Benitolink’s Millennial Skill Building will build work experience for high school, college level and recent college grads in the areas of writing, graphics and photography. It focuses on helping them to reach a professional level of experience not just in journalism but also the areas of research, statistics, social media and graphic design. (More on this on BenitoLink next week).

Catholic Charities:  Provides operating support to increase financial stability of families and individuals living in San Benito County who are in the midst of a financial crisis.  The agency will provide direct rental, utility assistance, and CalFresh application assistance to 25 households.  Furthermore, the Agency will provide referrals and assistance navigating the burdensome and confusing net of social services to 275 clients and CalFresh group informational sessions to 100 households.

Emmaus House:  Will use the funding to continue their mission of providing shelter and resources to women and children who seek refuge from domestic violence in San Benito County's only domestic violence shelter.

Hope Services: Goes toward job training and employment opportunities. This means civic involvement for underserved low-income and zero-income earning individuals with special needs and disabilities who now reside in San Benito County. Hope Services provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live full and meaningful lives.

Small Steps: To provide warm winter coats and shoes for children of families who may not otherwise receive these needed items.  All contributions pay for services, not overhead.  Their goal is to serve as many local children as they can without incurring overhead expenses.

Salvation Army: Offers a range of services to low-income individuals and families in need, such as utilities and food assistance; Thanksgiving and Christmas food and toy distributions; and community programs including fitness classes and women's home league.  Since last year, the Corps has been operating after school youth and teen programs in the local community.

Health

Chamberlain's Children Center: Will help fund their Health, Wellness, and Nutrition Program (HWN).  This program was born in response to the prevalence of unfit and unhealthy lifestyles that the children in Chamberlain's care had been accustomed to before being placed with the home. This HWN program has provided the facility with opportunities to instill these important values in each child they serve. Children are encouraged to get out and play, move and exercise.  They are encouraged to pick fruit and vegies in our gardens and try foods that they have never experienced before.

Ag Against Hunger: This organization helps direct the agricultural bounty of surplus produce to low-income people in need, serving predominantly hungry families in SBC.

Advocacy Inc.: Will assist all residents in achieving good health by improving safe and healthy living environments.

Community Foodbank: To fund the Backpack program with the Hollister School District which is proven to help kids that either through poverty or parental neglect are not getting the same nutrition over the weekends as they are throughout the week from the school food programs.

Partnership for Children: Program worked to increase access to medical care for children with life-threatening conditions and to support their families.  They are providing safe and reliable transportation to medical treatment, addressing the financial and practical needs of families, and following the death of a child, enabling families to memorialize their children in a way that brings healing and comfort.

Suicide Prevention Services: Funding will be used to strengthen and expand their ability to meet the needs of county residents through safe suicide prevention.  It will provide residents with life-sustaining services that will reduce and prevent self- injury and/or death due to suicidal behavior.

Sun Street Center: Funds will provide assistance in the cost associated with opening  a treatment program in Hollister for women and their children.

Youth

Boy Scouts: Goal is to assist the community organizations that charter our 485 packs, troop, teams, crews, posts and groups in having outstanding and well-trained adults to provide top-notch programs to an ever-increasing number of youth throughout the community.

CASA: Aim is to provide a CASA advocate for 75 percent of foster children from San Benito County. Advocates directly impact foster children’s success in life by engaging them in positive relationships with their community, increasing their life-skills to reach their full potential, and addressing their academic achievement, as well as their physical and emotional well-being. These funds will help expand the program to include infants to five year old toddlers.. 

San Benito County Arts Council: Will prepare local children for success in life and school by providing integrated learning opportunities in the arts through their comprehensive Arts Education Program which serves over 6,000 students annually with quality arts programs and services.

YMCA: Funds will support the first year of the Power Scholars Academy (PSA) camp program at the San Benito YMCA. The PSA camp program will serve 60 low-income and academically challenged students in our community by expanding their summer learning opportunities and increasing their academic achievement.

 

About:
Leslie David (Leslie David)

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.

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