● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
With a name like Assistance League of Greater Placer (ALGP), one might imagine the women behind the Auburn-based nonprofit as a band of caped crusaders.
True, their efforts are heroic, but you’re more likely to find them visiting area seniors or donating school supplies than patrolling the Sierra skies.
Valerie Harrison is part of the crusade. She remembers the moment she became involved with ALGP like it was yesterday. Having just moved to Auburn, she was still unpacking when a neighbor approached and said she was looking for someone to take her place within the organization. “I went to the next meeting with her and was impressed with the friendliness and camaraderie of the ladies and decided to give membership a try,” Harrison recalls. “That was back in 2004 and I have never regretted a minute of it.”
Founded in 1987, ALGP is an officially chartered chapter of National Assistance League. According to its Web site, the organization “puts caring and commitment into action through community-based philanthropic programs.” The local chapter’s volunteer-run Thrift Shop is the main source of funds for programs, including Angels for Aging, Assault Survivor Kits, Competencies for Independent Living, Dressing for Success, and emergency response efforts. According to ALGP President Jo Ann Murano, the Thrift Shop “sells quality used clothing and household goods at bargain prices to clientele on limited budgets, as well as to others looking for a good deal.” Additional funds are raised through grants, tax-deductible donations and special events. “There are no salaries. All the money goes back into our community programs,” explains ALGP Corresponding Secretary Sandy Slaton. “You get a wonderful and rewarding feeling when you help others be successful and smile.”
Valentina Zavaleta, April Shiro and Jacob Barnidge
ALGP’s signature program, Operation School Bell, provides new clothes and supplies to children in need and holds a special place in the hearts of many members. “[The kids] shop for their own clothes and get what they like,” explains Thrift Shop General Manager Janet Wheatley. “I love to watch their faces when they select their new clothes and then model them for us. When I was growing up, we had very little. I seldom got new clothes and can relate to what these children are feeling.”
According to former ALGP President Vicki Harris, each program is evaluated annually to ensure that services already provided by other organizations are not being duplicated. “In developing our programs for the community, we work with school districts, social and welfare agencies, and various institutions to identify a true need,” she says.
By the end of their fiscal year in May 2012, Harris and her fellow volunteers reported that their chapter donated 42,214 hours to more than 13,000 members of the Placer County community, a significant portion of the 2.8 million service hours donated nationally.
“In addition to giving back, I have been introduced to some of the most remarkable and talented women,” Murano says. “Our goal is the same. We are part of Assistance League because we want to be. We want to help make a difference—knowing that we do gives us the energy to do more.”
For more information, visit greaterplacer.assistanceleague.org.