Assistance League Bakersfield is an all-volunteer, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to serving the community through philanthropic programs. It was organized by Ruth Ann Montgomery as the “Volunteer Service Guild” to provide community service: clothing children who otherwise might not be able to attend school through Operation School Bell®. It was incorporated in November 1956 with 24 charter members and certified by the Bakersfield Charity Board of Appeals. In May 1958, the Guild was chartered as the 23rd chapter of National Assistance League as Assistance League of Bakersfield.
Operation School Bell began in a member’s garage and later moved into a loaned building on Golden State Avenue. In January 1959, a former church and adjoining lot on “O” Street were purchased to house our growing philanthropic program. Groundbreaking was held in June 1966 for our new Chapter House at 1216 “O” Street, adjacent to the church. This building was dedicated in January 1967. The lot east of Chapter House was purchased in 1978. An addition was completed in April 1981.
Bargain Box opened on California Avenue in September 1959 to provide funds for clothing purchases. As these quarters soon became inadequate, 916 California Avenue was purchased in October 1961. A 1,400 sq. ft. expansion was completed in September 1977. In 1983 the lot next door was purchased and a 5,000 sq. ft. expansion opened to the public in 1984.
In June 2004, escrow closed on the trade of all our property for 1924 “Q” Street. This trade concluded four years of work with the City and developers on redevelopment plans to secure our successful relocation. In March 2005, the move was successfully completed.
On June 5, 2011 we were bestowed the Chairman’s Award for 55 years of philanthropic work benefiting the community. The Crystal Camellia Award was presented, by the Chairman of the Board of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, at the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards Ceremony honoring those who have strengthened and assisted the Kern County Community.