In a town where the median household income is estimated to be more than $200,000 per year and the annual income reaches $160,000, it’s difficult to consider that a portion of the population is living in poverty–so much so to where a child doesn’t own a dictionary or a warm coat for the winter, or a senior citizen isn’t getting a hot meal.
Too often, though, that’s the reality. It’s a stark reminder that not everyone is afforded the same privileges and basic comfort items.
While there are many different service organizations to assist the underprivileged within the community, there is one group that has continued to grow each year over the last 15: the Assistance League of Los Gatos-Saratoga.
According to past president Teri Spice, over the last year the league’s 120 members logged 18,000 volunteer hours, many of which were dedicated to reading to and tutoring students.
“We give them books and their eyes open wide and they say, ‘This is my first book,’ ” says membership co-chair Gladie Rabitz. “We give them age appropriate books and we visit twice a week. We tutor them and help them learn their letters and sounds.”
In addition, the league participates in Dictionary Day, where they distribute dictionaries to third graders. Last year volunteers handed out 325 warm coats and gift cards for new shows to children throughout Los Gatos and Saratoga, and gave out partial scholarships to help send 20 fifth and sixth graders to science camp.
The league’s assistance programs aren’t only limited to school-age children, though. In fact, there are programs to help young women aging out of the foster care system, new mothers and senior citizens.
“There’s a program in Los Gatos that houses young women who have aged out of the foster system and they have no place to go,” says Rabitz. “So, they’re housed in that program. What we do for them is we give them a duffle bag full of their own sheets, pillows and toiletries that they can take with them. We do birthday kits for them with birthday cake mix and candles.”
Last year alone, the league helped send 20 students to science camp and partnered with the Santa Clara County Nurse Family Partnership to give 450 new mothers quilt bundles with clothes, baby wipes diapers, toys and books for their newborns. Volunteers also went to the Saratoga Adult Day Care Center four times a week and prepared 3,500 lunches.
“We do a lot of things for our local community to help people in need,” says Rabitz. “We’re very proud of it. We really do some wonderful projects and help a lot of people at the same time.”
“We’re big on education; we’re big on helping needy people in lots of ways,” she adds. “We just have some wonderful philanthropic programs to help needy school children and young mothers and families. It’s a social group and we have a lot of fun together.”