Assistance League in the Community
Helping At Risk Moms Succeed so Families Flourish
During the month of May, we honor and celebrate mothers and all women who nurture the special people in their lives with maternal love and support. For many families, Mother’s Day is a joyful spring tradition. For others, it’s just another day, but one that is full of promise for families on the receiving end of several Assistance League programs that aid, encourage and help educate moms so that they can give their children a brighter tomorrow.
Providing a Good Beginning for First-time At Risk Moms
Assistance League of Los Gatos-Saratoga is committed to breaking the cycle of hopelessness for young at risk moms by supporting The Nurse Family Partnership Program (NFP) in Santa Clara County, part of a federal program that connects first-time moms from low income backgrounds with specially trained public health nurses, who provide support beginning in pregnancy until the child turns two years old.
Under The Family Program, the Los Gatos-Saratoga chapter provides essential baby items that would be beyond the reach of moms-to-be with very little financial or family support. The program includes different events throughout the year that engage members and benefit recipients, including a very special opportunity that brings both together for a one day shopping event called “The Store”. Eligible moms can exchange points earned under the NFP program for gently used clothing, books, strollers, cribs, baby gates, diapers, wipes, nursing supplies, etc., that have been donated, collected and sorted by members throughout the year.
Members also hold an annual baby shower that benefits moms in the program, and fulfill holiday wish lists at a winter luncheon so moms have brightly wrapped gifts for their little ones.
“The nurses attend the holiday luncheon and tell heartwarming stories about the effect these gifts have on their clients,” noted Barbara Weber, Vice President of Philanthropic Programs.
Showering Military Moms with Good Wishes and Layettes
Assistance League of Palm Springs Desert Area hosts an annual baby shower luncheon for first time expectant moms stationed at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base. Members and friends honor their guests, enjoy one-on-one conversation, offer parenting tips and help them out by providing a complete layette, portable crib and other essentials.
“This is really worthwhile,” said longtime member Maria Koenig. “It’s amazing how grateful the military moms are. Everything we give them is so nice and new.”
Promoting Good New Nutrition at Home
Assistance League of Chicagoland West’s New Start program collaborates with local social service agencies on a year-round basis to shower families transitioning from homelessness or shelter living to independent housing with everything needed to stock a kitchen, including dinnerware, flatware, cookware, bakeware, cleaning supplies and two small appliances.
Recipients are primarily single moms who are surprised by the completeness of the kitchen donations and, in their words, “feel valued and happy that others think they are worth a new beginning.” The kitchenware does more than help provide nutritious meals; it helps rebuild lives, strengthen families and relieve budgetary stress.
Continuing Education for Moms
Though a collaboration with Project Self Sufficiency, Assistance League of Huntington Beach provides scholarships for single moms who are working their way out of abusive relationships and homelessness to becoming self-supporting parents through higher education.
Thanks to these programs and others, moms of all ages can transform their lives and the lives of their children through compassionate assistance, education and the knowledge that they’re not alone in their journey to succeed. That’s a gift worth celebrating on Mother’s Day and every day.
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HISTORY OF ASSISTEENS®
Assisteens is the youth auxiliary of Assistance League chapters. Assisteens provides volunteer opportunities for young people in grades 7 through 12. The goals are to develop a sense of community responsibility, self-reliance, personal responsibility, poise, public speaking, leadership skills and to support the chapter. Assisteens raise money in a variety of ways to fund ongoing Assistance League and Assisteens philanthropic programs that benefit their community.
Assistance League was founded in 1919 by Anne (Mrs. Hancock) Banning and her friends, based on an informal charity in Los Angeles started in about 1894. In the 1890s, social events raised money for local charitable giving. Assistance League, with Anne Banning and Ada Edwards (Mrs. Homer II) Laughlin and friends, provided money and clothing for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire victims. When the war started in Europe in 1914, Anne and her friends worked for the Red Cross and, in 1917, set up the Red Cross Shop that raised $150,000 in one year. After the war ended in 1918, the ladies wanted to continue working together, helping people in need.
In 1919, Assistance League was formally organized, with Good Samaritan providing aid to returning veterans and their families and the Film Location Bureau raising the needed funds by renting private properties to movie companies. Founding members were prominent women of Los Angeles of all faiths and political views. In 1923, Assistance League moved to DeLongpre Avenue in Hollywood where the campus of Founder Chapter (Assistance League of Southern California) remains today. The motto was “All For Service and Service For All.” Anne Banning felt that women worked best in like-minded groups, so auxiliaries were formed. Day Nursery was added in 1924, followed by Girls’ Club, Theatre for Children, Toy Loan and Boys’ Club. Junior Auxiliary was formed in 1929 for post-college-aged young women.
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