With over 120 chapters in the United States, Assistance League works as a national nonprofit organization dedicated to solving some the community’s most pressing issues, fulfilling some of their needs at local level.
Each one of the 120 chapters focuses on helping their community with different programs. Each program varies from classroom supplies donations to supplying teddy bears to law enforcement in giving to traumatized children.
Assistance League of Santa Barbara is the 10th of 117 chapters of National Assistance League and it works as the other assistance leagues in the U.S. It is a not for profit all volunteer organization that aims to benefit children and adults in Santa Barbara County through 17 different programs.
In this article, Kenny Slaught will talk about the most important aspects of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara.
Just like the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, the Assistance League of Santa Barbara was founded in 1947 by a group of women who joined together to start the organization in Santa Barbara under the National Assistance League ideals: being a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to helping those less fortunate.
At first, meetings were held at the members’ houses, then at the Montecito Country Club. Five years after the foundation of the chapter, members started renting a small house on Anacapa St. where the women sold different goods, from homemade stuff to clothing, jewelry, and furniture.
In 1955 the organization moved to the Hunt-Stambach House, built in 1880, which was about to be demolished. Members of the Assistance League rescued this fine example of early local architecture and it worked as its headquarters for ten years, until in 1965 the chapter moved to its present home.
Nationally, Assistance League members volunteer in 29 states and donate at least 2,000,000 volunteer hours per year. In Santa Barbara, the chapter has over 379 members, who volunteered approximately 46,760 hours last year to support and implement the organization’s programs.
The chapter is formed by volunteers only and it counts with no paid staff or executive director, and the Board of Directors, which is comprised of the officers and committee chairmen, are elected annually.
The Assistance League of Santa Barbara is supported by two groups in charge of volunteering for the seventeen programs offered by the chapter:
- Las Aletas: In 1964 the chapter’s auxiliary was formed for the daughters and daughters-in-law of members. Soon it opened the membership to all interested women who wanted to volunteer their time and talent to three programs: Operation School Bell-Goleta, Kids on the Block and Operation Book Shelf. The members also assist with the other Assistance League programs and Thrift Shop staffing.
- Assisteens: This national auxiliary was formed in the 1930’s to provide teenagers with opportunities to serve those in need, developing a sense of responsibility and community spirit and learning leadership skills.
In January 2006, the Assistance League of Santa Barbara formed Assisteens as a group dedicated to providing an opportunity for members to complete required community service hours and experience and skills that could reflect favorably on their college applications.
Assistance League Thrift Shop
The Assistance League of Santa Barbara Thrift Shop is its main source of funding for. It offers wide range quality goods for sale that include clothing, toys, household goods and books. Over 85% of the money collected at the Thrift Shop is returned to the community through the programs.
Over 35 volunteers work every day at the shop, receiving, cleaning and organizing each donated item. Providing customers with the best they can offer. All items at the shop are donated by local merchants, members and people from the community.
Assistance League of Santa Barbara working hand in hand with its auxiliaries, Las Aletas and Assisteens, currently offers seventeen programs, that aim to enhance and expand to fulfill the needs of the community. Each program is entirely funded by donors, grants, and Thrift Shop earnings.
Some of these programs include the following:
- Bear HUGS: Established in 1998, this program has the purpose of comforting children and adults in severe trauma situations by delivering Teddy Bears.
- Community Friends: This Program allows the chapter to share items that cannot be sold in the thrift shop.
- Family Learning Center: Starting in 2002, this program provides tutoring and mentoring support to participating children and their families who need help with reading, math and homework assignments.
- Fostering Friends: Since 2000, Fostering Friends was created to help to emancipate foster teens make the transition from foster care to living on their own.
- Friendship Luncheon: Established in 1980, the Assistance League has hosted luncheons for seniors in the community and since that time has served over 14,000 seniors, providing beautiful decorations, entertainment and door prizes.
- Fun in the Sun: This program is a seven-week summer learning program for children at risk.
- Hillside House Resident Enrichment: Created in 1948, Assistance League has supported this residential home for over 59 individuals with developmental disabilities or brain damage.
- Kids on the Block: Established in 1989, this program explores important social issues through puppet presentations for children.