Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
July 26, 2009
Chantal M. Lovell, staff writer
REDLANDS – Redlands-based charity Helping Hands Pantry has teamed up with a San Bernardino health clinic to provide its customers with full-service care. Helping Hands has provided underprivileged residents of Redlands and surrounding communities with food and other necessities since April 2008.
For about 35 years, the Social Action Community Health System (SAC) of Loma Linda University has provided the uninsured full service health and dental care.
Four months ago, the two formally partnered and now offer their customers food, clothing, furniture, therapy, monitoring, and health care, among other things.
“We are sending our people in need to them, and they are sending their people in need to us,” said SAC executive director Nancy Young.
The partnership came just in time, as SAC was experiencing an influx of customers in need of basic items like food and diapers.
“We would give people their prescription and tell them exactly what they needed to do,” Young said. “We’d say ‘take this with food,’ and then we’d find out they hadn’t eaten in three days.”
Young and other SAC workers put together a small food pantry by buying extra items whenever they shopped, but the need became too great and it was clear they needed something larger. Then, Helping Hands Pantry executive director Paul Dickau approached Young for advice on starting a health clinic in Redlands.
After talking, he decided the best thing would be to establish a partnership and let each organization focus on their area of expertise, Young said. In April, Helping Hands Pantry moved from Redlands to the SAC location, the former Norton Air Force Base.
“People come to either place and they get the benefits of both,” Dickau said. “It’s a strategic partnership.”
Since the partnership, Helping Hands has been able to expand the scope of its own services now that it has extra space. In addition to providing its customers with food on a weekly basis, Helping Hands Pantry evaluates the needs of those it serves and tries to meet them.
“When somebody walks up to our door, we have them fill out some forms,” Dickau said. “One is setting up a home visit. A lot of these people say they’re okay, but when you go into their home, you can see their needs. You can see if they don’t have furniture or something else.”
When a volunteer notices something, like a lack of furniture, clothing, or possible need for counseling, anger management, or other health need, it is noted in a computerized database and sent to the correct branch of Helping Hands or SAC.
“We also collect clothing,” said Helping Hands board of directors secretary Christofer Chapman. “We have a partnership with the House of Thrift (also under Loma Linda University). We give collect clothing for them and when someone comes to us and needs clothes, they get a voucher and can go shopping there.”
Beside being able to meet a variety of needs since the partnership, Helping Hands and SAC can now better accommodate their customers.
“It’s going beautifully, it’s an absolute answer to prayer,” Young said. “This is something we’d been praying for for a long time.”
Many people they serve have limited transportation, so having everything in one location is a necessity.
“We’re one of the only sites where all the services are offered under one roof,” Young said. “We’re a one-stop community clinic.”
Helping Hands was serving 1,500 people each week prior to the formal partnership but expects to see an increase in its customer base because of the connection with SAC, Chapman said.
As Helping Hands gets more volunteers and gains experience by training with SAC, it plans to extend not only the services it offers, but its service area. It hopes to open a distribution center in Redlands, Yucaipa/Calimesa, West San Bernardino, and Grand Terrace/Colton.
SAC and Helping Hands said there is always a need of volunteers and donations of food, diapers, clothes, furniture, and other items, so they can meet the exact needs of each person they serve.
“There’s different groups of people who show up,” said Helping Hands volunteer Allen Olsen, of Highland. “There are people who are just off the street, and you get a huge number of working poor. The needs are different between the groups, and we are constantly looking for new and better ways to help those people.”
©2009 Redlands Daily Facts. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.