ver the past few months, we have seen the generosity and unity of Americans burst forth in a time of national crisis.
Now let us remember those in need in our own community, even as we continue to mourn those we have lost nationally. Recent economic events have had a major impact on the less fortunate at home, in our own neighborhoods.
The generous outpouring of support to those in need in New York City and Washington, D.C., has been tremendous. More than $1 billion has been raised nationwide for Sept. 11 relief funds.
Nonprofit agencies throughout the nation sent funds to the relief effort, as they understood the great need in New York and Washington. It was heartening to see the generosity of our own community as our nation pulled together to support those at "ground zero."
Yet, even as we congratulate ourselves for the generosity of so many on a national scale, it is crucial that we not lose sight of the growing needs here at home. Even before Sept. 11, Silicon Valley's economic downturn was stretching resources of social-service agencies.
These local agencies are working desperately this year to meet the expanded demand for the crucial services and programs to help those affected by cutbacks, layoffs and a tightening economy.
Tragically, many local nonprofit agencies now find themselves forced to cut budgets at a time when the demand for their services is growing -- the agencies that help others need help from others, from you.
Such budget cuts will drastically change the lives of many in the community -- people such as Annabelle Woodard, whose husband, Vernon, has Alzheimer's disease. He has been a long-time participant at Avenidas' Senior Day Health Center, and without the daily care at the center he would most likely need to be in a nursing home, where his complex needs could be handled.
Annabelle says Senior Day Health has been a "symphony of caring," a place that has saved her life. Yet without adequate continued funding, many such as Vernon would have to leave their homes -- their families simply couldn't provide the 24-hour care they need.
Cutbacks would also affect Martin and Helena, a young couple whose children require day care from the Palo Alto Community Child Care Center (PACCC), as they both work full-time. Without the center's help, they would not both be able to keep their jobs. One parent would need to stay at home with the children, cutting their total yearly earnings in half.
The holidays are traditionally the season when caring individuals step forward and provide donations to support the important work of their favorite local, community-based charities.
It is vitally important that we maintain the "safety net" these agencies provide in our community through our year-end donations.
All of us struggle to find the perfect gifts for friends and family "who have everything." This year, consider making a gift to that friend's chosen charity instead of just buying another present.
Your donation to a nonprofit in the community is the perfect opportunity to see your dollars at work, close to home.
Sharon Hofstedt is chair of the board of Avenidas and is a community board member of PACCC.
All of us struggle to find the perfect gifts for friends and family members "who have everything." This year, consider making a gift to that friend's chosen charity instead of just buying another present.