A local non-profit entity is lauding the generosity of county residents, businesses, and churches, after seeing participation in an annual holiday fundraiser hit a new high this year.
The Safe Haven Wellness and Recovery Center’s Angel Tree Fundraiser, started by peer support specialist Valerie Stirling four years ago, saw donations spike to their highest level yet this year. Organizers said that awareness of the fundraiser has increased since its inception.
For the fundraiser, a Christmas tree is decorated with paper angels in the Safe Haven center, each of which have a specific item written on them. Most of them are everyday items that someone might not normally think to donate, but are nonetheless crucial to the daily operation of the clinic. An individual interested in donating to Safe Haven takes an angel from the tree, picks up the item, and returns the donation to the drop in center.
“This is my first year participating in the program, and I was really pleased with the turnout of it,” said Paul Billeci, Leadership Committee President. “We haven’t stopped the (angel tree) program. We probably will sometime early in January. We always take donations, but this was a way to get it more centered towards Christmas.”
Billeci said that donations of coffee, creamer, and sugar are particularly important to Safe Haven’s daily operation.
“We go through, I would say, seven pots of coffee on a slow day,” Billeci said.
A hot cup of joe helps draw folks in out of the cold, and into the Wellness and Recovery Center to take part in the programs offered there. For those that are already involved with the programs at Safe Haven, it provides a nice little pick-me-up, and an incentive to get come back into the center.
“I see it as more of a morale booster. You can come in, get a coffee and a doughnut or whatever, and you’re not sitting at home alone and going, What am I going to be doing all day? It gets them out of the house and gets them more productive,” Billeci said.
Either way, having the doors open, and a fresh pot of coffee brewing for the people that might come through them, provides an entry point to recovery, and the donations are all crucial to the program.
Safe Haven is run entirely through donations, and without the community’s generosity, its operation wouldn’t be possible. Billeci said that there is no short supply of that.
“I have to say that in the County of Colusa, the people have been very generous,” he said.