Hacienda Helping Hands Returns to Help Community

The Hacienda Helping Hands charitable fund has made a triumphant return with a renewed priority to help worthy Tri-Valley organizations.

The revitalized fund will be managed by the East Bay Community Foundation, a nonprofit with an 85-year history of helping charitable groups.

"The campaign is back up and running," said James Paxson, Hacienda general manager. "We've just started rebuilding the fund and have had some early success with contributions. We would like to encourage people to donate."

Hacienda Helping Hands is off to a strong start with more than $20,000 in donations from Chamberlin Associates, Kaiser Permanente, Oracle, First United Services Credit Union and Ellis Partners LLC.

"We are working on organizing some fundraising activities for later in the year," Paxson said. "We used to hold a charitable barbecue that had become very popular, so we're actually hoping to bring back that event."

Hacienda Helping Hands first got off the ground back in 2008 at the height of the recession. Despite the down economy, the fund flourished as Hacienda businesses and employees supported the notion of helping local charitable groups.

The first incarnation of the fund had two major fundraising and grant cycles, Paxson noted. More than $100,000 was raised for dozens of nonprofits and community groups serving the Tri-Valley, such as Axis Community Health, Sentinels of Freedom, Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center and Open Heart Kitchen.

The fund was originally managed by the Tri-Valley Community Foundation, a nonprofit that ultimately became insolvent. By that time, Hacienda Helping Hands had donated all funds it had raised, and fortunately, no money was lost when the foundation was closed.

Hacienda Helping Hands went on hiatus for a year and a half while searching for a reputable nonprofit foundation with which to partner. The stellar track record of the East Bay Community Foundation made that group the logical choice.

"We are the Bay Area's oldest community foundation," said Sarah Lehman, the foundation's managing director of development and marketing. "We bring 85 years of local East Bay expertise to philanthropy."

Hacienda Help Hands' donations will be in good hands with the foundation that manages more than $400 million in charitable funds for more than 500 groups.

"When they invest philanthropically with us, there's an incredible level of investment expertise," Lehman said. "We will manage it, steward it and help it grow."

The foundation will also work with Hacienda to target where best to direct its grants, once the fund has grown to that point.

"We can provide insight into outstanding Tri-Valley nonprofits deserving of support, as well as emerging community needs," Lehman said. "We're going to help them grow the money, and we're going to help them find really meaningful places to give it."

While Hacienda Helping Hands is fundamentally a Hacienda initiative, the fund's mission of helping deserving groups resonates beyond the park's borders.

"It has touched people throughout the community," Paxson said. "In the past, we've attracted interest outside Hacienda, which was a pleasant surprise. People liked the campaign."

Whether support comes from inside or outside Hacienda, the bottom line is that people are eager to support worthy programs close to home.

"They like the idea of doing something that is germane to the locale," Paxson said. "They can do something in the community in which they're based."

Here's how to make tax-deductible donations to Hacienda Helping Hands: Payee: Hacienda Helping Hands Fund at East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) Memo: For the Hacienda Helping Hands Fund Mail: East Bay Community Foundation Attention: Giles Miller, Director of Development 200 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612

For more information on Hacienda Helping Hands, contact the Hacienda Owners Association at 925-734-6500.

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