Many living in southern San Mateo County approach the end of 2015 on firm and comfortable economic ground, thanks to the continuing good health of the Bay Area economy. But the dazzling economy has also left far too many others on increasingly shaky ground. Soaring housing costs devour ever-larger portions of low- and fixed-income residents' budgets, and are pushing many of them out of their homes completely, sometimes with nowhere to go but homeless shelters or the street.
The harsh dues of poverty and living on the edge also often lead to mental and physical health problems and fractured families. And of course, to hunger and unmet needs for clothing and other life essentials as well.
Almanac readers have for 22 years risen to the challenge of helping neighbors in need during the holiday season, and we trust that this year will be no exception. The Almanac's Holiday Fund this season will support 10 nonprofits that help the impoverished, the hungry, those in need of medical care, kids from disadvantaged families or in need of mental health services, and many others who need a helping hand to get through difficulties in their lives.
As in past years, the Holiday Fund donations will be matched thanks to the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The donations will be handled by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which doesn't charge for its administration of the program. That means 100 percent of your donations goes straight to the nonprofits, which equally share the money raised.
Last year, the Almanac's Holiday Fund program raised about $156,000. Please consider making a donation to this year's program by using the coupon in the Almanac or online.
This year's Holiday Fund beneficiaries are:
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
With locations in Menlo Park and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in Redwood City, this organization provides academic and after-school support and activities for 1,750 at-risk K-12 kids. Participants attend programs at least twice a week during the school year and receive tutoring, mentoring, and academic support.
Ecumenical Hunger Program
This program provides emergency food, clothing and household essentials support, and sometimes financial assistance, to families, regardless of religious background. At Thanksgiving and Christmas time, the program provides baskets to more than 2,000 households.
Project Read-Menlo Park
Project Read offers free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. It trains volunteers to work one-on-one with students wishing to improve their basic reading, writing and English language skills so they can achieve their goals and function more effectively at home, at work, and in the community.
Ravenswood Family Health Center
The center provides primary medical and preventive health care at a new facility in East Palo Alto. Most of the 17,000 registered patients are low-income and uninsured, and live in the Belle Haven, East Palo Alto, and North Fair Oaks areas.
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
St. Anthony's serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need. It also offers emergency food and clothing assistance. Funded entirely through donations, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest is the largest collector and distributor of food on the Peninsula, distributing about 52 million pounds of food last year. Thanks to donations from individuals and businesses, it distributes food to more than 250,000 people each month through more than 770 agencies and sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
InnVision Shelter Network
This nonprofit serves thousands of homeless families and individuals every year as they work toward self-sufficiency and seek permanent housing. It provides temporary housing and a range of support services, with 18 sites in Silicon Valley and on the Peninsula.
StarVista serves more than 32,000 people in San Mateo County with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education and residential programs. It also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline.
Fair Oaks Community Center
The center's reach into a community in need is extensive. It provides senior programs, child care, assistance with citizenship and immigration matters, and housing and employment services. It offers crisis intervention, and hosts Dignity on Wheels, a mobile shower and laundry trailer for the homeless.
Serves more than 5,000 students and their families annually through sexual health and education programs. Professionals work with students, who learn how to communicate with parents about health and sexuality issues, and to make informed decisions.