Local Organizations that need our Support

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2010

We would like to learn about art organizations in Berkeley or Oakland that people recommend for giving a donation. Preferably something set-up to supplement arts education in public schools, but we're open to anything. anonymous

You might consider donating to the Child Life program at Children's Hospital. They have an on-site school and lots of art, music therapy and other arts programs for patients. They are always in need of new, unused art supplies and other support. anon

I would check out ArtsChange, www.artschange.org. This organization is based in Richmond and does a lot of projects with Richmond youth and are currently based out of the RYSE youth center. They produced an amazing puppet theater piece directed at pre-schoolers about healthy eating and food justice issues, called Carlitos and the Magic Garden. Alice Prussin

try googling MOCHA - museum of children's art in oakland. i'm an oakland public school teacher that works with teaching artists from mocha and their programs and work are amazing. Lisa

Depending on what you're donating (art supplies, clothing, money), how about considering Cal Performances' Schooltime program? The program provides access to top performances in dance, music, and theater for K-12 students. Classes from my son's public school attend regularly (he's gone to performances with his class for the last 4 years)--it's a popular field trip that even parents vie for participation in! I've learned that Cal Performances is very minimally funded by the University, and receives most of it's income through ticket sales and contributions, so please consider giving to this very unique and valuable program. We do. Another Art Lover

Dec 2009

My family would like to start a tradition of making a contribution to a charity during the holiday season. I know, i know...why just the holiday season? I used to work in nonprofit development and got a little jaded by all the end of the year appeal business. However, now that I have small children who get lots of presents from their relatives at this time of year, I think this is an excellent time to reinforce the lesson that in the midst of all this receiving, it is important to give too. Also, we are well aware that others are less fortunate than we are. We don't have a lot to give, but we want to do something. Money, time, in-kind. Whatever it is that it seems like is most needed by whatever charity we choose to support. The trouble is that we are a little overwhelmed by the options. We are hoping some BPN readers can pitch their charities to us. It'd be nice to hear from others who you support and why. We are interested in groups that support kids - especially groups that give kids opportunities to get involved in the arts, sports, leadership, science - activities that they may not be getting in school due to funding cuts. We live in El Cerrito and would like to give locally. We wondered about giving to the local schools, like Fairmont? We would prefer that the organization be secular. I was also considering giving to Brighter Beginnings in Oakland. Also, if anyone wants to chime in on international/national charities, that would be appreciated too. We're interested in healthcare for underserved communities, opportunities/safety for women, improving the lives of children. We're not too interested in giving to policy and/or lobbying organizations. Thanks in advance for your assistance and ideas! anon.

Hi,I saw your post and thought I'd let you know about an organization that I have been involved with for a few years. I am now in charge of fundraising for the Sonoma County chapter near where I work, however there is also an Alameda County branch if you would like to be more involved close to home. The group is important national program interest in science and math courses and encourage them to consider science and math based career options. Conferences are held annually all over the United States.

EYH Sonoma County (and there is one also in Alameda County), hosts a conference that will accommodate up to 400 seventh and eighth grade students from Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties. The conference location alternates between Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College. This year the 18th Annual EYH Conference was held at Sonoma State University on March 20th, 2010.

Young women today do not always receive enough encouragement to seek out and excel in math and science classes in high school. Without adequate preparation, they do not have as many career options available, particularly in an increasingly technological workplace. The young women who attend our conferences may one day become Sonoma County's engineers, doctors, dentists, enologists, architects, forensic scientists or pursue many other exciting careers.

To that end the objectives of the conference are to:
- Increase the interest of young women in mathematics and science education through positive, hands-on workshops presented by women who work in math- or science-related fields.
- Foster awareness of career opportunities in math, science, engineering and technology-based fields.
- Provide young women with opportunities to meet and interact with positive role models who are active in math- or science-related careers.

Donations go toward providing essential items such as: scholarships for girls who need financial assistance, conference supplies and equipment as well as transportation for attendees coming from outlying areas. Contributions not only support young women's interests in math and science today, but also support the gradual rise of women in the math/science fields for the future. You may donate on-line at http://www.eyh-soco.org/donations.htm

If you would like to learn more about the Sonoma County conference or organization, please visit our website at http://www.eyh-soco.org/. To learn more about the national organization, please go to their website at http://www.expandingyourhorizons.org/AboutUs/Intro.html.

If you have any further questions. Please feel free to email me. Kate

I have been very impressed with Bananas, Inc. in Oakland. I first went there 5.5 years ago when I was about to have my first child. They offer a ton of services from parenting classes, childcare referrals (and what to look for), items for people who need them (diapers, clothes, cribs, etc.). When I went to a parenting class the diversity astounded me (late 30 year old professionals, 18 year old unmarried kid in foster care, etc.) and yet we all had the same ''stupid'' questions...we were all about to have babies for the first time. What an amazing experience! We have been donating to them ever since...gently ''things,'' money and whatever we can. We also make a run for Toys for Tots (somewhere there is a good sale so that we can get several items) and drop those off. We are currently looking for somewhere to donate gently used toys. Oakland family

I know it is now too late for end of year giving, but as a BPN member and mom, I wanted to share more about the organization that I donate to and work for. The Oakland Small Schools Foundation has served Oakland public schools since 2003. In February, we will be expanding our reach and becoming the Oakland Schools Foundation (OSF). OSF is the only organization that develops resources for Oakland schools and provides expert support services, in order to foster school success and promote excellence for all Oakland students. OSF has 11 staff members who have worked hard to help schools raise $10 million in public and private funds. OSF is a registered non-profit and accepts donations for individual schools as well as donations that support the organization.

I'd be happy to give you more information. Please let me know if you're interested in learning more about our work and the schools we serve. You can also visit our website at www.smallschoolsfoundation.org or contact Sarah Oppenheim at sarah [at] smallschoolsfoundation.org or (510) 534-7613. Joanna

Older Recommendations

Alameda County Community Food Bank

I always feel strongly about the Alameda County Community Food Bank. With all the welfare hits this year, they're serving more families and individuals than ever--especially children. We've been giving food and money as we can afford (sometimes only $10/mo, with me as a stay-at-home mom, but I think it helps)for the last 5 years or so. When I get some time (!), I plan to volunteer time with them too. They also collect food in front of the Safeway on Solano, and maybe others. Since they are local, I always feel good about the think globally, act locally slogan. (When I had an office job, I'd always collect from my co-workers for them, too. People seem to really like the idea of helping out a food bank).

-- Roxanne

Bay Area Adoption Services

This international adoption agency collects items that are of use to orphanages in the Third World, package up useful combinations of these things, and then give them to families who are on their way to other countries to adopt their children to deliver to orphanages in the children's home countries. Some of the items they collect are new, but some, like cloth diapers, pants and pins, are OK used. Here's the complete list: Vaseline Jelly, Cotton Diapers, Diaper Pins, Plastic Pants, Hydrogen Peroxide, Soap, Hibiclens or Betadine Disinfectant, PolyViSol Liquid Vitamins for Children, Children's Chewable Vitamins, Brushes & Combs, Tylenol for Children, Neosporin, Baby Lotion, Cotton Swabs, Cotton, Gauze, Diaper Rash Ointment, Adhesive Tape, Children's Cough Syrup, Baby Wipes (not drop-in refill paks), Toothpaste, Band-Aid Strips and Baby Shampoo.

Bay Area Adoption Services has assisted in the adoption of over 1,000 children from over 30 different countries. The office is in Mountain View (650-964-3800), but a Berkeley mother, Jane Wolff, goes there every month and can collect donations at her home in Berkeley. Call 642-6716.

BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency)

February 2007

For several years I've been making monthly donations to BOSS, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, an East Bay group which helps homeless people get off the street. In general, their work has a good reputation, but I've heard/read complaints about their administrative efficiency, or lack thereof, and in the past their donations department has failed to bill my credit card. In fact, last year, only half of my intended donation was billed! I don't question their good intentions, but this sort of ineffiency doesn't inspire confidence. I'm going to check a few other sources, but in the meantime, have any BPN families had experience donating to/working with BOSS and, if so, what are their opinions? Melanie

My friend, Sonja Fitz, has worked at BOSS for 15+ years. She is as efficient as they come. Although I have never had any problem having my donations received and accepted by BOSS, if you want to be absolutely sure that your contribution reaches its rightful destination, add ''Attention Sonja Fitz'' to the envelope. Lindy

In response to the question about BOSS\x92s administrative efficiency, budget cuts over the past few years meant that BOSS has lost administrative capacity (going from 4 fundraising staff to 1 \x96 me, Sonja) so handling all grant, event, and donor activities is challenging, but I do my best and to the best of my knowledge Melanie\x92s monthly donation is the only task I dropped the ball on. I have changed my system so that it will not happen again, and regret the poor showing it made of us. Our other monthly donors give through our website, where donations are handled by an outside organization, although they charge 3% so I do appreciate Melanie\x92s desire to give to us directly. We have hundreds of active donors a year, and I send each a prompt thank-you letter, while keeping track of who wishes not to receive phone calls or extraneous mailings, etc.

BOSS does very good work with homeless families and individuals who have multiple special needs (mental illness, drug/alcohol addiction, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence), providing housing and shelter, education and employment services, access to health care, and more. We need every penny we can raise to keep our programs operating. If anyone else has had a less than satisfactory experience with their giving to BOSS, I hope you will contact me personally so I can resolve the problem and share my appreciation for your support. Many thanks!! Sonja Fitz BOSS Development Director (510) 649-1930 sonjafitz[at]yahoo.com Sonja

Sorry to hear of your less than satisfactory experience. I would urge you to contact BOSS directly, if you have not done so, to let them know of these incidents and to give them an opportunity to respond. Perhaps there's a glitch with their e- donation software? anon

Diabetic Youth Foundation

I'd like to put in a plug for the Diabetic Youth Foundation. They run Bearskin Meadow Camp for children with diabetes. Every summer DYF puts on family camp sessions as well as a more traditional kid's summer camp program (ages approx. 6-18, including the counselors in training). They always need funds for camperships, medical supplies, and general operations. If you work for a pharmecutical company, donations of insulin, blood testing equipment, etc., are very welcome too! I worked as a counselor at Bearskin Meadow for over 10 years and can whole-heartedly endorse this organization. It is a wonderful place where kids with diabetes can learn how to stay healthy, meet others who live with insulin on a daily basis, and have life-changing experiences in the outdoors. Their phone number is 925-680-4994. (last updated May 2001)

-- Anne-Marie

Dorothy Day House

From: Cathy (11/98)

Regarding community service opportunities, this is not in Contra Costa but in Berkeley, so I'm not sure you'll be interested.... There's an organization called the Dorothy Day House that does regular meal preparation and servings for the homeless at the Veteran's Building (1931 Center). They are almost entirely run by volunteers and are very well-organized. Hence, it's a very gratifying experience. They can be reached at 549-2336.

Elizabeth House

Please call the Elizabeth House in Oakland to donate your furniture, etc. They are a shelter for women and their children and do terrific work. Omaloor (8/01)

Emergency Shelter Program

is the largest domestic shelter in Alameda County. They can be reached at 22634 Second St., Suite 205, Hayward, CA 94541. The telephone number is 510-581-5626. Donations are gladly accepted.

Kids' Turn

From: Susanna (12/98)

I'd like to include Kids' Turn (where I happen to work!) on the list of nonprofits which would appreciate holiday donations. Kids' Turn does workshops for children whose parents have divorced or separated, and serves primarily children ages 4-14. We're in the process of developing a program for parents of children aged 3 and under. We offer services in four Bay Area counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Marin. The East Bay phone number is 510-835-8445.

La Leche League

La Leche League of Oakland/Berkeley is accepting donations for its yard sale on September 15 which is being held to raise money to produce breastfeeding information packets for new mothers, support the education and training of leaders and leaders-in-training, and enhance our lending library. La Leche League is a nonprofit organization so all donations are tax-deductible. Items may be dropped off in advance at private homes in N. Berkeley (jenharnish AT aol.com or 548-4804) or Richmond (Dana at mcmahan73 AT home.com or 234-3437) or pickup of items can also be arranged (contact Dana or Jen). Thank you! La Leche League is an international, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed. Jen (8/01)

Legal Services for Children

From: Liz (12/98)

Even a small contribution can go a long way to helping children at risk. Legal Services for Children provides legal and social services to abused and neglected children in Alameda County and San Francisco. LSC also works on delinquency prevention, kids and families affected by HIV and establishing legal guardianships. An attorney and social worker team together to represent the children. Contact Claudia Jackson, Director, 1254 Market Street, 3rd floor, San Francisco, 94102. (415) 863-3762.

Piedmont Gardens Retirement Home

Jay, Jordan and I have been volunteers at Piedmont Gardens, a retirement home off of Piedmont Ave. in Oakland for several years. We serve as shoppers every other Saturday, but many other volunteer opportunities are availavle there as well. They have different sections for people of different abilities, e.g. independent living, assisted living and nursing home, so people can work with the area they feel most comfortable. They also have a moms and babies program, where you visit the residents with your babies. They're located at 110 41st St. in Oakland. The volunteer coordinator is Elizabeth Chamish and she can be reached at 654-7172 ext. 113. Interested volunteers: please let Elizabeth know that Lee Eisman of East Bay Moms referred you. Thank you.

- Lee

A Safe Place

is a shelter in Oakland for battered women and their children. They do good work, but need money and volunteers! The phone number for donations is 636-4747. PO Box 1075 Oakland 94604

St. Anthony Foundation I recently received an email from a friend that said that the Marion Women's Shelter in San Francisco (www.stanthonysf.org) is in serious need of women's and children's clothing. Looks like it's part of the St. Anthony Foundation. I don't know if they pick up or not. Jana (8/01)

Women's Cancer Resource Center

I'd like to put in a plug for the Women's Cancer Resource Center. It's local---on Shattuck past the Berkeley Bowl---and a mostly volunteer organization that provides information and support (in the form of support groups and volunteers who will come to the home regularly if needed) for women with cancer. They have a wonderful library and a paid librarian who is indredibly knowledgeable, and are really committed to empowering women with cancer. I took the volunteer training there a couple of years ago and worked as a volunteer for about a year, but had to stop when the demands of two kids overwhelmed me. It is really a great place, and I hope to return to volunteering there again soon.

They are not supported by any big corporations or the government, and are always in need of donations and volunteers. Call 548-9272.

Lindsay (12/98)

The Women's Daytime Drop-In Center

The Women's Daytime Drop-In Center in Berkeley serves homeless women and their children. Although they are not a collection facility, they can refer you to women who are making a transition to housing of their own and need furniture and items for children and the household. The main number is (510) 548-2884. J (8/01)

The Women's Daytime Drop-In Center is a nonprofit program addressing the needs of homeless women and children to ensure that they have a safe, daytime refuge where they receive support, nourishing meals, and access to community resources to overcome homelessness and regain their self-sufficiency. It is the only daytime program for women in Berkeley, and one of two in the East Bay. They serve an average of 150 women and children a month in a nurturing, homelike environment. Services are available at no fee to any homeless woman or child. They can be reached Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM at 2218 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702 or call 548-2884. (Natasha 12/98)

The Women's Refuge, Inc

P.O. Box 3298 Berkeley, CA 94703 510-547-4663 Executive Director - Charlene Stamps-Bolling
This is an emergency shelter and transitional housing program for women, many with children. The majority of the families are victims of domestic violence. They are provided with counseling, legal assistance, housing search, parenting education and skills to secure employment. Graduates act as mentors to new families. Donations are tax-deductible. Besides cash, the program can use donations of women and children's clothing in good condition, chests of drawers, twin beds and bedding and new toys (wrapped, at holiday time.) Send checks to the Women's Refuge, P.O. Box 3298, Berkeley, CA 94703. For other donations, call 547-4663. (Natasha 12/98)