For decades Petaluma People Services of Northern California has worked diligently to meet the needs of residents in Petaluma and surrounding Sonoma County. And, like any social service outreach, PPSC has been stretched and stressed.
As many people everywhere are making efforts to bounce back from the impact of the Coronavirus, some outreach agencies like PPSC are teaming up with other organizations. “Before COVID-19 hit, there was the wildfires and before that the economic downturn of 2008,” said PPSC executive director Elece Hempel.
The affordable housing shortage and ever growing homeless crisis makes working as an independent outreach agency more difficult. As one who believes strongly in the power of community, Hempel knows that no matter how resilient no one community can do everything. This past July 13 PPSC teamed up with some help from Home Instead Charities and it’s ‘Give65’ program.
“Give65 is a program of Home Instead Charities. It is the first and only crowd-fundraising platform exclusively devoted to helping nonprofits (like PPSC) raise money online for programs and services that are helping aging adults live with independence and dignity,“ says JulieAnn Soukoulis, coordinator of Home Instead in Sonoma County. “Since its launch in 2016, Give65 has raised and awarded more than $3.3 million in support of older adults in the United States.”
This type of teaming up assistance is just what PPSC needs at an unprecedented time of tremendous change and uncertainty.
“Because this giving day was an event that was coordinated nationally, said Megan Kelly, Director of Community Relations & Outreach for PPSC, the start time on that Tuesday was 6am for us at Pacific Standard Time. And for other parts of the U.S. 9am Eastern.”
The reason for the early morning time as she explained. “There are matching funds available but only until they run out; which typically happens within hours,” Kelly said.
Thinking and arranging things quickly Kelly and staff at PPSC didn’t want to miss the opportunity. “So, we decided to do a 6am Coffee with Elece to encourage people to donate early” said Kelly.
“This was also an opportunity for Elece to share about our Senior Services program and how we support the older adults in our community. Our initial fundraising goal was $3500, which, she added if raised in the first few hours of the event will be matched to make $7000 for that day.” Every amount helps especially to local outreach programs like those at PPSC.
And to Kelly’s amazement, “$613,177 was raised in support of less fortunate older adults in need, she said. There were 3,971 donations that helped us set a new record-high fundraising total.”
“This was the first time PPSC has participated in the annual ‘Give65’ event, said Kelly. 100 percent of the money raised goes to PPSC (Home Instead Charities doesn’t take a cut) said Kelly and we look forward to many years ahead of this collaboration.”
Kelly also wanted to clarify. “While collaborative, this event isn’t due to COVID-19. We have had to pivot our programming more than ever due to the Pandemic. We created our ‘You Are Not Alone’ program, which provides a daily phone call to over 3,000 seniors in Sonoma County. This is accomplished by over 3,000 trained community volunteers,” she said.
Since the initial onset of Coronavirus in March of last year, the amount of delivered meals has increased exponentially. MarketWatch and the New York Times reported over $5 billion in revenues from food and meal delivery services via an app on a smartphone.
Pointing out that even a local social services outreach has to adapt to the 21st Century, Kelly said. “We have also had to rearrange our ‘Senior Cafe program’ to a ‘to-go meal’ program. We now have more seniors than ever in our ‘Home Delivered Meals Program.’”
As reported by the University of Washington, among others, the impact COVID-19 has made upon the elderly is mostly intensified by the isolation. Social contact with distancing protocols in place, such as making a phone call or delivering a meal make a profound difference.
“This money is needed to continue all of the above programming, said Kelly and we appreciate the community’s support in making that happen.” To learn more about
Petaluma People Services and their outreach to Sonoma County, visit the PPSC web site.