Talk about a tough act to follow. This year’s Book of Dreams fundraiser for local charitable organizations comes after a record-setting 2018, which brought in $82,000 for seven recipient agencies.
The partnership between The Modesto Bee and the Stanislaus Community Foundation succeeded because of a variety of donations, large and small, as well as a matching grant of $25,000 from the Stanislaus County Focus on Prevention initiative. More than 200 individuals, families and businesses donated.
The funds were distributed among Cambridge Academies, Turlock Gospel Mission, Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus, Children’s Crisis Center of Stanislaus County, Modesto Gospel Mission, The Salvation Army Modesto Citadel Corps and Family Promise of Greater Modesto.
Family Promise received $11,894, which went toward carrying out its mission of alleviating family homelessness and reducing the trauma it causes to children, Executive Director Tamra Losinski said.
The nonprofit partners with faith communities to provide meals, resources and temporary shelter. Family Promise also offers case management and education.
Losinski said her organization is able to multiply Book of Dreams donations. “Each dollar brings an additional $3 in donated meals, shelter and services. The donations also provide matching funds required to use federal funding for security deposits and rental assistance.”
Cambridge Academies, which manages the HOST (Helping Others Sleep Tonight) House shelter, received $11,210. The funds were used to buy Chromebooks to teach work skills to participants in the Restart Program, Executive Director Geni Boyer said. The money also helped keep HOST House open for night shelter guests and the Day Access Center open for homeless men and women needing resources, showers, clothing and food.
The Children’s Crisis Center got $11,158 and focused it on Guardian House in Oakdale. Guardian House is one of five children’s shelters the Crisis Center operates for abused, neglected and high-risk youth from infancy through age 17. The others are Verda’s House in Turlock, Marsha’s House in Ceres, and Audrey’s House and Sawyer House, both in Modesto.
“The contribution received from the Book of Dreams was instrumental in helping to better the lives of 1,034 local high-risk children, birth to 12 years of age, in need of emotional and physical protection from troubled family circumstances,” Executive Director Colleen Garcia said. “Funds were specifically utilized to buy diapers, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and other breakfast, lunch and dinner foods, which fed all the children served at Guardian House last year. These children were under the nurturing care of the Guardian House program for a total of 53,568 hours.”
May Rico, executive director of Haven Women’s Center, said the $13,223 it received was not dedicated to any specific expense but rather “helped ensure our services were able to continue uninterrupted.” Haven aids survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking, and its services include crisis intervention, safety planning, peer counseling, restraining order assistance and court accompaniment.
Modesto Gospel Mission Executive Director Jason Conway called the $12,028 it received a “breath of fresh air” because the money was awarded in January, after the holidays. “The month of January historically is a slow month for donations,” he said, “and seeing that we are 100 percent privately funded, this amazing donation enabled us to stay afloat and be used in operation cost to maintain our current programs.”
The donation of $11,294 to The Salvation Army was a gift that keeps on giving. Some of it went to adding a bilingual employee to the shelter staff, said Maj. Harold Laubach Jr., Modesto Corps officer.
“We chose this employee because they were once a shelter client experiencing homelessness and had exhibited a motivation to change their circumstances, improve their health and they had an amazing work ethic,” he said. “That employee is still with us today and we look forward to watching that person become a stable and hardworking member of our community for years to come.”
Part of the donation also was used to buy construction materials for building repairs of mission bathrooms and walls.
Finally, Turlock Gospel Mission was the recipient of $10,808 from the Book of Dreams. The contributions were used directly to support the programs at the mission, most specifically its Women’s Restoration Shelter, said Development Officer Jacquelyne Acree.
The shelter is a place for mothers and their children to find refuge and assistance as they gain their footing, she said.
“One of our specific goals has been to provide a safe place for children to play, learn, grow and socialize in a nurturing and positive environment,” Acree said. “We have made great strides towards this goal and continue to improve and increase the services we are able to offer to little ones. We still plan to build a play structure once additional lot development has been finalized.”