“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” – Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations Foundation

As we enter the season of giving, we are mindful of all our clients, survivors and their children, families in need, and vulnerable individuals living on the margins that are in need of extra support at this time.

While many of us were lucky enough to come through the pandemic unscathed, many of our neighbors are suffering from the continued effects of the ongoing pandemic; and for those who were already struggling, the impact of the pandemic only amplified their needs.  As we all continue to navigate through this uncertain time and find our new normal, we are cognizant of the fact that many people are still in need. It’s important for us as a community to find ways to give back, and truly make a difference in someone’s life through meaningful acts of giving.

University Retirement Community Relations Committee (URCRC)[1] from the University Retirement Community (URC) in Davis is one such group that has supported Empower Yolo this year through very thoughtful, creative projects where they are making a difference in their own way.

“It was an easy decision to support Empower Yolo,” says Judy Higgerson, registered nurse, URC resident and URCRC member.  “When we moved to Davis five years ago my husband and I looked for a nonprofit organization to volunteer with and that met our values in helping others.  We learned quickly about Empower Yolo when we donated our old cell phones.  Learning the importance of donating cell phones to Empower Yolo clients and the value it had helping those who needed a lifeline was very much in line with our values,” says Higgerson.

Donating their cell phones for survivors of abuse began their relationship with Empower Yolo.  Higgerson wanted to do more for the clients. She and the URCRC organized and provided a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration for all the mothers and children residing at the shelter last May. “We wanted to put together a special Mother’s Day treat for the families at the shelter. It took no time for the committee members to join in the creation of 20 gift bags and three cakes to be delivered early for Mother’s Day,” said Higgerson.  They also included a fun surprise for the kids as well.  A grand donation of over 100 children’s books accompanied the mom’s gift bags and cakes. “I believe that there is always a desire to give to others in need, and special surprises for the kids at the shelter provide some needed fun for them,” Higgerson added.

Providing thoughtful donations or special celebrations at the shelter for clients and their families for the holidays and during the year brings them joy and truly touches their lives, and makes a difference in their healing process and mental wellbeing.

With support from private donations, Empower Yolo is making a difference in the community – from emergency wraparound services for survivors (including shelter, clothing, legal advocacy, counseling, 24-hour crisis line) to housing support; food distribution; youth services; community resource centers; access to health care; support for the homeless, immigrant clients, families in need; and so much more.

Together, we can uplift and continue to encourage hope with our clients; and let them know extra support is available if they need it. Through their special projects and donations, URCRC has shown our clients and their children that they matter and that their community supports them.

Currently, Higgerson and URCRC members are working on a special holiday project for Empower Yolo.  They are hand painting a bookcase and providing a variety of books for the children at the shelter.  “A URC resident volunteered to donate a children’s bookcase. While searching for books to fill the bookcase, an additional idea popped up to paint the bookcase. We are working with a URC staff member (who has beautiful artistic talents) to hand paint some fun, whimsical characters and creatures on the bookcase to make it unique and special,” says Higgerson.  This is a thoughtful, creative and meaningful project the children at the shelter will enjoy for years to come.

If you are interested in participating in our holiday giving programs here are some wonderful opportunities to help families in need:

Holiday meals: The shelter is in need of grocery gift cards to make warm holiday meals for clients and their families.  Grocery gift cards to Grocery Outlet, Safeway, or Nugget of any denomination are greatly appreciated.  Donations can be dropped off at 175 Walnut Street in Woodland, or 441 D Street in Davis during office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Adopt a Family: Each year Empower Yolo coordinates an “Adopt a Family” program during the holiday season where donors can confidentially adopt clients in need for holiday gifts.  This is truly a wonderful program that brings so much joy to our clients and their children and shows them how much their community supports them. To adopt a family wish list contact: [email protected].

General giving wish lists: Donating items from our general wish lists offer larger groups (such as school and church groups, sports teams, and scout troops) more flexibility in giving together. We have general giving lists for “Mothers for the Holidays”, “Teens for the Holidays”, “Rooms to Go”, and “Santa’s playroom at the shelter.”  Our clients can always use these items, and we often get last-minute clients and families during the holidays where these gift items are greatly appreciated.  The shelter is especially in need of “bathrooms to go” items, and twin and queen sheet sets.

Amazon Smile: If you shop on Amazon shop smile.amazon.com choose “Empower Yolo Inc.” in Woodland as the non-profit to support, or you can find us at: smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3027535. Shop as you normally would and Empower Yolo will receive a percentage of eligible purchases, which is an easy way to support Empower Yolo.

For more information about holiday giving visit: empoweryolo.org. To “Adopt a Family”, request a general giving wish list, or for questions contact: [email protected], or call (530) 661-6336.

All of these holiday giving programs are wonderful opportunities to help clients in need, or you can come up with your own creative project or way to give back and make a difference in someone’s life this holiday season and beyond.

“It suits the personality of many residents at URC to give of themselves to our community in many ways. We know when we give of ourselves, the return is multiplied. The depth and breadth of URC residents’ skills, knowledge, and history are valuables to behold that we would like to share with our community,” says Higgerson. “Working with Empower Yolo we see the depth of its services, and the dedication of their staff and administration is to be admired on many levels. We thank Empower Yolo for partnering with us to make our project ideas a reality for the families being served – thank you for giving that gift back to us,” says Higgerson.

[1] URCRC’s purpose is to strengthen ties connecting the University Retirement Community with the Davis area in collaboration with nonprofits and other community organizations.

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