From a Napa Valley Register article posted on March 31st, 2017 by Yvonne Baginski
As a recipient of funds from the Gasser Foundation, I’d like to add a few more points to the wonderful editorial published recently in the Register (“The foundation of a community,” March 26).
There is much to say about the terrific people who work there, the kind and generous board members and the leadership that takes risks on helping fund innovative and forward-thinking projects that make such a significant difference in our community. These are people with vision and perspective. They don’t rely on what was, but are looking forward to what could be. And, they’re very realistic, down to earth and know Napa well.
The side of Napa we don’t often want to examine closely is the side that the Gasser Foundation helps the most. My own experience of working with low-income, frail and socially isolated people has led me to creating a program, Share the Care, which directly responds to need.
The leadership of the Gasser Foundation had faith in the idea of training volunteers and being able to “do” when help is needed, and has been a generous funder for the past three years. Those funds have made a significant difference in the lives of about 800 people. These are people who were often facing a life crisis that had to be dealt with in the moment, and couldn’t wait for an application to be completed, or a bureaucratic process to be initiated. And, without an immediate response, these are people who might have been hospitalized, evicted, on the streets or even died.
When I start telling the stories of all the people the funding from the Gasser Foundation has helped in creating Share the Care many are shocked. It’s hard to look at the darker side of aging, illness, poverty and despair in a community that touts wine, tourism and vineyard views as its greatest attribute. But yes, we have hundreds of people in Napa Valley who are barely eking out an existence and many are simply too old or ill to be able to help themselves in any way.
Without the Gasser Foundation, Share the Care would not exist. I know there would have been more suffering in the silence of isolation that permeates the lives of many who are no longer who they once were and will never return to the viability of younger years.
When I tell people in other counties what I do with Share the Care, they ask me how I can get a program like this started in their community. They ask because they know how hard it is to start a nonprofit, and to actually be able to respond, in a timely fashion, to people in need. And, they ask me because they too wish they had a Foundation like Gasser in their own communities.