Published March 20, 2012
Volume 20, Number 3

With Poverty Rate Up 58%, Hacienda Helping Hands Giving Is More Critical Than Ever  

A few weeks ago, the cities of Livermore, Dublin, and Pleasanton were presented with a startling piece of news: the poverty rate in the Tri-Valley increased 58 percent from 1998 to 2011. The statistic was reported in a draft study entitled “Eastern Alameda County 2011 Human Services Needs Assessment,” which the three cities commissioned. 

The survey found that, in tandem with a 22 percent increase in population over the past 10 years, a common factor across all locales is the growing demand for human services, from food assistance to medical care and counseling, according to David Rice, President of the Tri-Valley Community Foundation.

“Unemployment has skyrocketed, putting all kinds of pressures on families, down to whether they can afford to buy food. This is why Open Heart Kitchen is feeding record numbers of people, Axis Community Health is seeing more patients, and schools are helping students with their needs for clothing and books,” Rice relates. “If you have a job, working in Hacienda, you probably don’t feel the need directly, but a large segment of the population is touched in some way by some pretty difficult times.” 

As part of its civic engagement and sustainable philanthropy initiatives, the Tri-Valley Community Foundation administers the annual Hacienda Helping Hands giving campaign and grants program. Hacienda Helping Hands, the park’s community-benefit charitable campaign, raises funds from Hacienda companies and affiliates to support health and human service organizations, educational programs, and cultural projects in the Tri-Valley communities. 

The level of need is severe, as the poverty statistics attest, Rice observes. “The nonprofits providing services to needy families have been hard hit by the recession. Some are just hanging on. If those charities go away, it will be really difficult to continue to meet those needs.”

Rice notes that if each of the hundreds of companies in Hacienda gave just “a little something,” the total could make “an enormous difference” to these organizations.

While appealing to the companies’ generosity, he emphasizes that the giving level envisioned is quite reasonable by most standards, especially in light of the return. “With our initial efforts over the past two years, we now have just under 20 percent of Hacienda companies participating in Hacienda Helping Hands. If we had 75 percent of Hacienda businesses making contributions of somewhere between $500 and $5,000 apiece, our local nonprofits could serve so many more people.

“It is important to understand,” he continues, “that this help is going to people very close to home--if not employees, then their families and neighbors. It’s a really good investment to keep local communities strong.”

This year’s giving campaign sees the return of the popular Taste of Summer gathering and barbecue cook-off. Slated for August 16th,, the event will feature a tasty selection of food prepared and donated by local restaurants and other groups, along with more games and prizes—a perfect end to the day for the entire community to enjoy.

Preparations for Taste of Summer start in April, but teams are already signing up for the barbeque competition, Rice says. The crowd-pleasing cooks from principal sponsor Hyatt House, 1st United Services Credit Union, Beckton Healthcare Resources, and Sallmann, Yang, & Alameda are prepared to make a repeat appearance, with a total of 12 teams expected in all.

For more information about Hacienda Helping Hands, or to learn how you can donate or participate in Hacienda Helping Hands activities, visit the campaign website HelpingHands.Hacienda.org or call (925) 734-5673.

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