The Pleasanton Weekly distributed Holiday Fund checks totaling $79,192 to 12 beneficiaries last week at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.
The 2017 Holiday Fund campaign, which ran from last Thanksgiving to Jan. 12, received donations from 289 contributors. While most of the donations were in the $25 to $200 range, one was for $5,000 with another of $10,000 from an individual who preferred to remain anonymous.
"This was the 17th year the Pleasanton Weekly has conducted the Holiday Fund," Gina Channell, publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly and president of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division, told Rotarians at the luncheon event.
"In that time, we have raised over $1.5 million in unrestricted funding for local nonprofits," she added.
Channell was joined in distributing the checks by Julianne Brown, associate manager of corporate responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF).
The Pleasanton Weekly, which conducts and promotes the annual campaign, partners with SVCF, which handles and audits all contributions. That partnership allows donors to take advantage of a tax deduction on their taxes through SVCF's 501(c)(3) status, as well as removes administrative costs so 100% of the donations go directly to the nonprofit beneficiaries.
This campaign's Holiday Fund total was split between two tiers among the 12 recipients.
The four organizations in Tier 1 shared equally in 50% of the total funds with checks of $9,899: Axis Community Health, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, Valley Humane Society and ValleyCare Charitable Foundation.
The eight others in Tier 2 shared equally in the other 50%, receiving $4,949.50 each. They were Agape Villages Foster Family Agency, Hope Hospice, Open Heart Kitchen, REACH for Special Adults of the Tri-Valley, Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation, Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley, Sunflower Hill and the Tri-Valley YMCA.
As she received the contribution to Hope Hospice, Jennifer Pettley, director of development, said: "We saw a 48% increase in the need for hospice services last year. Many of these cases were dementia-related, which now surpasses cancer as the No. 1 need for Hope Hospice care."
Heather Greaux, executive director of Open Heart Kitchen, said her organization served 57,000 meals last year in Pleasanton alone. In addition to the Holiday Fund donation, she also thanked Rotarians for their support by serving on Open Heart's food lines and as sponsors "to make a large impact on the people we serve."
Axis Community Health, the Tri-Valley's sole provider of medical and mental health services for low-income or uninsured individuals, aids more than 14,000, said Valerie Jonas, chief development officer.
"Holiday Fund support is a vital part of Axis' budget," she said. "This donation from the Holiday Fund will help us pay for medical visits for many families without heath care."
Agape Villages trains foster parents to provide a stable home for children under their care.
"Many of those we serve don't qualify for Medicare, so the Holiday Fund contribution gives us funds to help pay for social workers Agape hires to check on foster care homes at least once a week," said Jennifer Oxe, the organization's community engagement director.
Steve McCoy-Thompson, executive director of PPIE, said the contribution from the Holiday Fund will help in PPIE's financial aid to keep elementary school libraries open longer.
REACH (an acronym for Resources Education Activities Community and Housing for special adults of the Tri-Valley) provides developmental facilities for adults with special needs. Eileen Manger, tenant coordinator, said the Holiday Fund aid will help the organization acquire more properties to house adults with developmental disabilities.
According to REACH, the need is growing exponentially, predicting that by the end of 2023, there will be a need for 529 units in Pleasanton and Livermore alone.
The Sandra J. Wing foundation supports cancer patients by providing therapies of acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic massage and more. Roy Cook, a founding board member, said contributions from the Holiday Fund have now helped the nonprofit provide alternative treatments for 1,000 cancer patients in the Tri-Valley.
Robert Taylor, executive director of Pleasanton-based Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley, also thanked the Pleasanton Weekly for its support of the services his group has provided to seniors since 1981.
"More than ever before, the demand for senior services is growing," Taylor said.
Holiday Fund contributions also help Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare meet the growing needs of the Tri-Valley communities, said Shaké Sulikyan, executive director of the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation.
The foundation raises funds to support a wide variety of initiatives that enhance patient care. Since the affiliation with Stanford in May 2015, the foundation has provided more than $1.1 million in donations to the hospital, including supporting 24 departments and programs.
Also receiving Holiday Fund checks were Debi Zentner, for Sunflower Hill; Kenny Altenburg, branch operations director for the Tri-Valley YMCA, and Melanie Sadek, executive director for the Valley Humane Society.
"This Holiday Fund program is just another example of why it's so important to have a newspaper like the Pleasanton Weekly," said Richard Fitzmaurice, president of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton. "It also gives us local news that we don't get anywhere else."