YOLO COUNTY NEWS

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Bid to help homeless mom honors Davis High grad’s memory

By February 13, 2011

On the anniversary of Davis High School graduate Richard O’Brien’s death in a ski accident, those who knew and loved him are honoring his memory by coming to the aid of a young homeless woman who recently gave birth to a baby boy.

O’Brien, who graduated from Davis High in 2009, died Feb. 13, 2010, while skiing in Washington state, where he was a freshman at Whitman College.

As a high school student in Davis, O’Brien spent hours volunteering at Grace House, a faith-based community program at Fifth and D streets that provides care, rest and respite to the homeless. So when word spread that a young woman who had frequented Grace House had given birth to a baby boy last week, Davis resident Elisa Stone decided to coordinate a community-wide drive to help her, and to do it in O’Brien’s honor. Stone is a close friend of O’Brien’s mother, Lisa Yamauchi, and both women volunteer at Grace House.

“I thought what better way to honor Richard than to do this,” Stone said. “Lisa was very excited. She wanted to buy a car seat for (the mother) but we had one donated, so she said, ‘Tell me what else I can get.’ ”

There is no shortage of items needed. The new mom, Stone said, is in her early 20s and has no support system in Davis, “but she desperately wants to keep this baby and be a good mother.

“And she’s doing great,” Stone added. “The baby (born last week) is already gaining weight.”

Mother and baby are living in a motel room. Stone herself brought over a crib and is helping both get settled. But with virtually nothing to her name, the mother needs just about everything imaginable, from diapers to formula, clothes to cleaning supplies.

On Friday, Stone created an announcement about a “Davis Community Baby Drive,” along with a list of needed items, and posted both to her Facebook page. Within hours, offers of help were flooding in.

“It’s gone crazy,” Stone said Friday. “I had people bringing stuff to my house today and I’m going to pick up more.”

“I think of this as a (gigantic) baby shower,” she added. “We in Davis are so fortunate. We have babies and we have a support system. We do have a village.”

Meanwhile, efforts are underway to find the new family a more permanent home, Stone said, since the motel is not ideal: “There’s no fridge, no bathtub.”

“We’re looking at sustainability,” she added. “We’re going to try to put together a fund to help her.”

Anyone interested in helping the family — and honoring O’Brien’s memory — can contact Stone at (530) 757-7752 or [email protected]. Donations can be dropped off at Davis Community Church, 412 C St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For a list of needed items, visit http://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/sydlz.

Any excess items will be donated to the Yolo Crisis Nursery and other agencies, Stone said.

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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