From Napa Valley Register: Helping your neighbors with food and rent

August 16, 2020 for the Register

You don’t have to be filthy rich to be a philanthropist. Many of our local Napa non-profits offer the option of monthly online donations of any amount. Since they’re automatic, you don’t have to think about it, but you know you are helping someone else every month.

Long ago, I started this kind of monthly donation to the Napa Food Bank through Community Action Napa Valley. Whenever I am in the check-out line at Whole Foods, buying fancy or unnecessary food items, I know I have made my monthly donation to help someone in my community with the basics. Because this donation is charged automatically to my credit card, I don’t even notice the expenditure. For those of us with stable incomes and few financial obligations, this kind of donation is a no-brainer.

I keep thinking, “If 100 people each gave the Food Bank $100 a month, that would be $10,000 that the Food Bank could count on every month to purchase (at a discount) the food items they need, rather than relying on thousands of pounds of donated canned goods, which have to be transported and sorted.”

Certainly, there are at least 100 people in this community who can afford $100 a month, or many more who could do $50 or $25. How about the value of one of your COVID-19 take-out meals? You can sign up at the Community Action Napa Valley website, http://canv.org to join me in this endeavor. In this time of expanding food insecurity, it is a way many of us can help.

Since the COVID-19 shutdown created a crush of newly unemployed folks around me, I now worry about those having trouble paying their rent. Many Napa organizations are helping the best they can. As I make my $1,100 monthly mortgage payment, I wonder what it would be like to owe rent in this community. I would love to help a local family with their rent every month. If I pick the right amount and donate electronically and automatically, I won’t even notice.

The Napa Valley Community Foundation has a Disaster Relief Fund where you can make a monthly donation and request it be applied to rental assistance. See www.napavalleycf.org/covid-19-giving/. Click on “credit card” to enter your information. Then designate its use for rent by choosing that option under “If you have a special purpose…”

The Foundation works through On the Move in Napa and the Upvalley Family Centers in St. Helena and Calistoga to qualify recipients and distribute emergency financial relief to families who are not eligible for government aid during these difficult times. Stephanie Olsen of On the Move told me, “So much is uncertain now and uncertainty is one of the biggest reasons that people choose not to donate.” NEWS (Napa Domestic Violence and Abuse Services) also helps clients with rents and has an online monthly donation option.

If you agree that we are all in this together, then let us truly be in this together. Neighbor helping neighbor with the basics — food and rent.

Lenore Hirsch


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