It’s hard to believe that we are already entering the holiday season 8 months into being sheltered in place. The need to provide services for the community due to COVID has substantially increased during the pandemic. Empower Yolo continues to serve an increased number of clients including victims of abuse and their children, vulnerable individuals and families, and the homeless. Support of these clients and their families by bringing some joy and light into their lives at this time is more important than ever this holiday season.

COVID-19 has affected so many of us, but for victims of abuse and clients already living on the margin those impacts are experienced tenfold. Since March Empower Yolo has been responding to the uncertainty for victims and their families in our community even more than before the pandemic. Together, we can help bring new hope to our clients, and show them how much their community supports them. Two long-time supporters of Empower Yolo, Bella Vie Real Estate[1] (Bella Vie) and the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society[2] (Prytanean) know how important it is to support community members, who have really been struggling, especially this year.

“We realize that more people are working from home, kids are doing distance learning, plus the stresses of loss of jobs, and income have created enormous pressure on many families. We understand that domestic violence and abuse have sky-rocketed during this time and the need to provide services to additional families due to COVID is more important than ever,” says Melissa Lanier, partner, Bella Vie Real Estate.

We appreciate when UC Davis student organizations support our mission to raise more awareness with younger supporters. “We support Empower Yolo because of the positive impact it brings to our community. Prytanean will continue to be an organization that supports women, and Empower Yolo provides a multitude of resources for women, such as safe housing, counseling, and safety planning. As a student organization, we hope to start good patterns of supporting the people in our communities, says Paige Abril, President, Prytanean Women’s Honor Society.

Bella Vie and Prytanean participate in our holiday programs and bring joy to our clients every year.

Each Christmas Prytanean provides decorated stockings to the shelter to support the families during the holidays. “Each stocking is decorated by the current members and alumni group, and they are filled with useful items for the children such as mittens, socks, stuffed animal, lip-gloss, coloring pages, and more. Prytanean is committed to this service activity and has been involved with this effort for 20 years,” says Abril.

Bella Vie participates in our “Adopt a Family” program every year adopting several wish lists to provide gifts confidentially to clients.

“We are so happy to participate in this amazing program each year. We have specifically chosen this program as our main office project, one that we all get on board with. It feels amazing knowing that we can make the holiday season bright for families who are going through a difficult time in their lives,” says Lanier.

Empower Yolo is grateful for the community’s support. Every year there are more clients than the previous year. This year, many clients are desperate to provide anything for their children for the holidays. Your support this holiday season can be more powerful than ever.

Here’s a lineup of our holiday giving programs that would best serve the needs of our clients. New this year, we have a holiday webpage with all the information about our holiday programs at: empoweryolo.org/holidays-at-empower-yolo/.

Thanksgiving: if you’re interested in supporting the shelter for Thanksgiving, we are asking donors to donate grocery gift cards so shelter staff and clients can cook and prepare warm, nourishing meals for families at the shelter. Donations of any denomination can be dropped off at Empower Yolo during office hours.

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. Wish lists will be available about November 16th. To adopt a wish list contact [email protected].

General giving wish lists: If you do your shopping early and cannot wait for specific client wish lists consider donating items from our general wish lists. We have suggested wish lists for “Mothers for the Holidays”, “Teens for the Holidays”, “Santa’s Playroom in the Shelter”, and “Rooms to Go”. New this year we also have a general online wish list on Amazon at: https://a.co/1aZD7su, or search “Empower Yolo, Inc.” 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. If you shop on Amazon shop smile.amazon.com and choose “Empower Yolo Inc.” in Woodland as the non-profit to support. Our account is: smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3027535. Shop as you normally would and Empower Yolo will receive a percentage of all sales.

Giving Tuesday – December 1, 2020: This is a global online giving campaign to help nonprofits raise unrestricted funds for the end of the year. Empower Yolo will run its campaign for one week from December 1-8th.  This end of the year giving will help support our increased services and unfunded programs. Donate to Empower Yolo on Tuesday, December 1 or any time at: empoweryolo.org.

For more information about holiday giving visit: empoweryolo.org/holidays-at-empower-yolo/; to “Adopt a Family” or for questions contact: [email protected], or call (530) 661-6336.

All of these holiday giving programs are wonderful opportunities to give back this holiday season. “Empower Yolo is an important organization that serves some of the most vulnerable in our community. Knowing that some of their clients have had to leave horrific circumstances, sometimes with just the clothes on their backs, makes us want to step up and do something to help,” says Lanier.

We especially need the community’s support this year. “It’s important to continually support organizations like Empower Yolo during this time since the need does not stop during the pandemic. Prytanean will continue to support Empower Yolo and other establishments during the year, and we hope others will follow suit.  In addition to our annual stocking project we also hold an annual event (traditionally known as the Benefit Ball) whereby all proceeds are donated to Empower Yolo,” says Abril.

Even though we are socially distancing we can still make an impact this holiday season and touch someone’s life in a positive way. Take back the powerlessness and feeling stuck in our situations many of us are feeling now. Give a meaningful gift of your time and/or resources, if you can.

Organize your office team, your child’s scout troop, your book club, service club, group of friends to “Adopt a Family” this year, or organize a fun drive to support children, teens and moms in need. Sharing the experience of giving together is very meaningful and is what the spirit of the holiday season is meant to be. Feel how powerful it is to truly make a difference in someone’s life through your meaningful act of giving.

To learn more about Empower Yolo and our holiday programs go to: empoweryolo.org.

[1] Bella Vie is a committed group of innovative realtors servicing Yolo and surrounding counties. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer care in all aspects of real estate. We love our community and the fabulous clients that we feel so blessed to work with.

[2] Prytanean Women’s Honor Society is the first women’s collegiate honor society in the United States, and it founded their Davis chapter in 1952. The mission of Prytanean is to promote high ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service within the university and the community while upholding values of friendship, support, and respect among diverse women.

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