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November 19, 2010 > Letter to the editor: Adopt a family or senior

Letter to the editor: Adopt a family or senior

It started as a holiday employee giving program in the City of Fremont's Department of Human Services. City employees have raised funds for over 12 years to provide seniors and families with 'extras' at the holidays and their funds created an "Urgent Need Fund" that case workers use to help needy residents when sudden emergencies come up during the winter. A few years ago, word started getting out about the program and it expanded to include donations from the community, although it still remained primarily a city employee holiday giving campaign.

Funds raised were used to provide seniors and families with grocery and target gift cards in modest amounts, to help boost their spirits and provide 'extras' during the holidays, and create an emergency fund that case workers could draw from for emergency lodging, emergency medication, transportation or when money has run out, and there is no food for the family dinner.

Currently, approximately 300 families, 100 seniors, and 1000 children/teens are assigned to City case workers - and additional people walk in requesting help daily. Fortunately, City programs are linked closely with non-profits in the area serving needy residents, so efforts are coordinated to serve as many people as possible. But still the need has outgrown current resources.

This year, with the bad economy and unemployment situation, City case workers estimate that the number of individuals, children, seniors, and families requesting help has grown by over 60%, and associated depression and counseling needs have increased by more than 70%. The need is bigger than those of us already involved, and we need more people to help our Fremont neighbors through this difficult time.

Please help this grass roots effort to make a difference. Quite frankly, those of us already involved are finding that it is boosting our own spirits to help others. For our neighbors who don't have family, resources or support, the impact is truly overwhelming.

Here are the ways to help:

Donate funds to the City of Fremont's 'Urgent Needs Fund" or donate grocery/restaurant/target gift cards- send checks & gift cards to:

Monica Dominguez
Senior Office Specialist
Aging & Family Services
City of Fremont
3300 Capitol Ave, Building B, Fremont 94538
(510) 574-2057
(510) 574-2054 fax
mdominguez@fremont.gov

Donate new or like-new coats and new socks for children, teens, and adults (by Dec. 5) Current Drop Off locations:
Color Me Quilts, 37495 Niles Blvd.
The Nile Cafˇ, 121 I St. Daily 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
More locations needed.

Create a holiday gift basket for a needy family or senior.
Organize family, neighbors, work team, & friends to collectively share the experience & cost of building a holiday food/gift basket
We are also requesting NEW items to fill baskets - anything that could make a senior, individual, or family's gift basket nicer.

This is a great opportunity to come together and encourage hope during this difficult time.

The city staff often gets a bad rap - but I think that this type of community involvement is often overlooked.

I'd also like to say that with such a huge rise in public need, there is a lot of added stress for case workers and people involved in helping to support residents in need. I see that they are dealing with really heart-wrenching situations on a daily basis, and I think they deserve a big "thank-you" for their dedication. It is not an easy job for sure - and many of them are reaching into their pockets when people come for help after hours or when the 'resource' cupboards are bare.

Please spread word about the need and encourage more participation in this wonderful holiday giving program. You will love the feeling of being involved in this!

Warmest regards,
Nicki Bouton
Fremont

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