Published June 19, 2001
Volume 9, Number 6

Amador Valley Assistance League has a Simple Goal: Reaching Out to Those in Need

The 90 members of the Amador Valley Assistance League contributed over 7,000 volunteer hours to Tri-Valley charities and nonprofit organizations last year. But, for these women, the importance is not in the number of hours they give but in the giving itself.

"If you ask members why they are here, most of them always have a desire to serve and give to others," said Maureen Darst, the current president of the Amador Valley Assistance League. "They feel as if they have been blessed and want to give back. Some have extra time on their hands and want to do something personally satisfying, and reaching out is a way to do that. We go back to our motto, 'Reaching out to those in need.' This is what we are all about." 

The League members not only reach out to others in the community, but they help and support each other. "We also take care of each other, when there are illnesses, loss of family members, or other things that happen." 

The Amador Valley chapter of the Assistance League was formed in 1991, one of 106 chapters in the United States. Of the 43 charter members from Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin, half are still active. Membership is by sponsor and June 21 is the membership information night at the regular meeting. 

Darst and all the members are extremely pleased that the League has been designated as one of the nonprofit agencies that will be a beneficiary of the Ruby Hill Giving Thanks Charity Ball this October. The proceeds will continue their community work that touches the lives of hundreds of adults, children and seniors. 

The League also holds two fundraisers each year. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Spring and in the fall, for the first time, will be the Casino Night Auction, featuring food, wine and a DJ. It will be held on Saturday, October 27, at the CarrAmerica Center in Hacienda.

Members services to the community are highly personalized and reflect the generous care and heartfelt concern volunteers have for people in the community. 

Operation School Bell is the League's national philanthropic project in chapters across the country. AVAL members purchase and distributing books and clothing to disadvantaged elementary students to keep for their own. The project recently received a generous grant from the Livermore Rotarian Foundation. 

C.A.R.E. (Caring for the Retired and Elderly) members maintain a magazine library and assist with special events at the Pleasanton Senior Center on Sunol Blvd. Magazines are also provided for Arbor Vista Senior Housing in Pleasanton. Companionship as friendly visitors is provided for the many residents of the Pleasanton Convalescent Hospital where League members also plan special group activities. 

Life is difficult for women and children in community shelters, but League members try to not only ease the burden, but to give something special. Personal care kits that include basic toiletries are provided for the initial stay of women and children seeking temporary accommodations at the Shepherd's Gate Shelter in Livermore. "Moving Out" kits containing housekeeping supplies are distributed to those needing assistance in making the transition to independent living. 

The School-Age Parents program in the Pleasanton Unified School District encourages teen-age mothers to stay in school and works with teen-age fathers. Members provide assistance in publishing the community outreach newsletter, and in child care services during the school day.

Each year ALAV members, trained by Prevent Blindness, Northern California, San Francisco, devote time to the Screening Eyes Early (S.E.E.) program. They are trained in vision screening and screen over 1,000 preschool children for amblyopia "lazy eye" and other vision problems. 

Members are downtown each month at a table at the 1st Wednesday Street party in Pleasanton with information about the League. Families can also "adopt a book" and for $10 a name plate with their family name will be put in a book given to a needy child. 

The League gratefully accepts donations and memorials. Visit the web site at www.volunteerinfo.org/assistav.htm. For more information call Maureen Darst at (925) 846-6588.

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