YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Arlene Thompson, with sons Nicholas, 3, and Daniel, 2 months, pays 10-year employee Andrew Kearney for her purchases at R&R on June 25. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Made in Yolo

Yolo benefits from its service organizations

By From page MIY9 | July 07, 2013

There are over 850 nonprofit organizations in Yolo County, but only a fraction of those groups solely service and are operated by the Yolo community. Two of the largest, STEAC (Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee) and Davis Community Meals, provide food, shelter and funds for locals struggling financially. Two others — Team Davis and All Things Right & Relevant — provide services for mental health clients or the developmentally disabled.

Members from all four organizations said it would be nearly impossible to operate without the support of the community. Both Davis Community Meals and STEAC receive regular donations from local farmers and businesses to help keep their kitchens stocked, while Team Davis and All Things Right & Relevant lean heavily on volunteers. And all agree that although their organizations have helped the community, there’s still more to be done.

Though Yolo County is home to hundreds of nonprofits, only eight of them cater to those with mental health needs, according to data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

“Mental health is not a sexy issue,” said Sarah Wagner, a board member of All Things Right & Relevant. “But everyone knows someone who’s suffering from it. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of dedicated volunteers through the years, but we can always use more.”

With the two-fold aim of helping both Davis’ mental health population and other local nonprofits, Ruth Shumway and a small number of volunteers opened All Things Right & Relevant on East Eighth Street in a 3,500-square-foot space, 23 years ago. Today, in East Davis, the consignment store stands on 10,000 square feet, having employed dozens of Yolo’s mental health clients and donating over half a million dollars.

All Things Right & Relevant was one of the first consignment and thrift stores in town and, as Wagner stresses, is still the only one that donates all of its profits to organizations within Yolo County. Divided into two sections, the larger portion is manned by local volunteers, some like Nan Anderson have worked for the nonprofit since it first opened. The other side of the store is staffed by mental health clients.

“Being able to work here gives some of our mental health clients a place to come and socialize and be useful,” Wagner said. “They’re all very bright and talented, but sometimes can’t handle a 9-to-5 job, and so I’m glad that we can help them by providing some place for them to work for however long they are able to a week.”

Currently, the popular consignment and thrift store donates its profits to 10 service groups, including Davis Community Meals and STEAC.

“We work with a lot of groups that want to fundraise and give to other service organizations,” said Kay Ormsbee, a systems manager at All Things Right & Relevant. “We’d like to think of ourselves as a hub for local charities.”

All Things Right & Relevant partners with STEAC for the Suit Up for Success program, which has provided 75 people with business attire for interviews over the past few years.

The program is one of many that STEAC organizes. One of the oldest service organizations, STEAC was founded in 1967 to assist migrant workers, but has since expanded to make aid available for the entire Yolo County population living below the poverty level.

“Our goal is to provide short-term aid for low-income individuals or families, who sometimes can’t make the rent because of an unexpected expense or have trouble making ends meet,” said former STEAC executive director Tom Martens.

STEAC gives as much as $400 to clients who are in danger of being evicted or who have trouble covering their first month’s rent. The nonprofit also has a food closet on the corner of Fifth and D streets, which provides free food.

“A lot of people don’t see poverty in Davis, but we see people go hungry, and so I’m glad we can offer people meals from the food closet,” STEAC board member Susan Carl said.

But STEAC isn’t the only resource for Yolo’s low-income residents. According to executive director Bill Pride, Davis Community Meals helped over 1,700 people in 2013.

DCM offers free meals every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church as well as temporary shelter for the city’s homeless for up to seven nights. For families without a place to stay, DCM provides transitional housing, paying rent for families for up to 18 months as well as assistance for clients seeking employment.

“We have a whole variety of folks here with needs,” Pride said. “I think what’s important about Davis Community Meals is that we have a lot of different programs and services that can help a whole range of folks.”

For individuals with developmental disabilities, Team Davis has been a resource for Yolo County residents since 2006. Started as an organization that supported the county’s Special Olympics program, Team Davis sponsors teams for 10 sports. But the organization has grown to include arts, singing and swimming programs for 125 participants, from ages 6-60.

Team Davis President Robin Dewey saw the benefit in expanding her organization first-hand.

“As a parent of a young man with disabilities, I can say that I don’t think he would have had much of a social life without an organization like Team Davis, and now he has a very active one,” Dewey said. “It’s certainly about more than just the recreation and the sports.”

Readers can learn more about the nonprofits mentioned by visiting the following web pages: www.rrconsignments.org, www.steac.org, www.daviscommunitymeals.org and www.team-davis.org.

Rachel Uda

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