Community - December 21, 2011

Holiday Fund: Creating smiles and changing people's lives

By Teri Chin, human services manager, Fair Oaks Community Center.

• Karen bubbled with delight as she pointed to the 500 Christmas trees neatly wrapped and displayed in the Fair Oaks Community Center parking lot: "Do you think that one is big and fat, Mom?"

Nina shyly approached the book table at our December food distribution event and asked our volunteer, "Do you have Dora the Explorer?"

• Anne was almost in tears as she sat down. "I was evicted from our garage apartment and I don't want to have to sleep in my car with my 7-month-old child again tonight."

• "I won't have a place to stay after tomorrow, so I'm looking for shelter" were Sam's words as he rolled up to our front desk in his wheelchair.

These are some of the images that come to mind from recent months at Redwood City's Fair Oaks Community Center.

Karen's family is one of the 500 to receive a Christmas tree at our Annual Trees of Joy event — made possible through the generous support of a local Atherton family and their friends.

This December we also celebrated over 10 years of partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to offer our monthly Family Harvest Food Program for our community's low-income families with children. Each month this program provides groceries for 130 families in our community.

And each December for the last five years, the Insight Meditation Center Family Program has collected and donated new and gently used books to share with the children of families in our Family Harvest program. Nina is one of the several hundred children thrilled to have the opportunity to select a new book at our December food distribution.

Local community partnerships and support make it possible for the Fair Oaks Community Center to provide much-needed services in our community — including food assistance, shelter referrals, homelessness prevention/housing assistance, crisis intervention, forms and translation assistance, advocacy, and referrals to appropriate programs and services throughout the county.

Through these various partnerships, we were able to connect Anne with legal services and advocacy so she was able to immediately move back into her garage apartment. She later returned for assistance with her deposit to move into a new apartment.

Sam was successfully referred to Shelter Network's Maple Street Shelter and to the International Institute of the Bay Area — an agency that provides immigration and citizenship services at the Fair Oaks Community Center.

These are just a few examples of the approximately 2,500 individual households that receive assistance from the Fair Oaks Community Center Information and Referral Program each year.

Visit for more information and for a copy of the 2010 annual report; or call (650) 780-7500 or stop by at 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City.


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