Helping Hands Program

Helping Hands Program Logo

What is an Emergency?

Emergencies by definition are unexpected and can cause significant stress on families.

  • Effect of stress on families (mental, physical)
  • Can cascade causing other emergencies (loss of car leads to loss of job, etc.)
  • Many organization offer help - but finding cash to fill the gaps didn’t exist until now

Falling Through the Cracks

At a recent club retreat, members of the Soroptimist International of Placerville (Soroptimist) asked themselves several tough questions,

  • What can we do better for women and their children in our community?
  • What are the unmet needs that we can’t see? 
  • What can we do to help in this worsening economy when an emergency need arises?

The answer stemmed from Soroptimist’s experience in providing assistance with small emergency requests from a local family service agency, and grew to the Club’s vision of providing a formal emergency assistance program that could take requests from multiple local agencies who have clients with an urgent need. 

Soroptimist club members put together an outline of what type of needs would be funded, how much money would be given on behalf of any individual, and a establish a reasonable process to handle requests.  Within a few months, representatives from five local agencies were invited to meet with Soroptimist to determine the need for and their interest in such a program. The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The agencies reassured Soroptimist that situations often arose where they were not able to help alleviate a critical need due to funding restrictions, or rigid rules and regulations. If Soroptimist put in place an alternate resource for these times of need, the agencies would certainly take advantage of it to serve their at risk clients.  

Based on their discussions Soroptimist club members quickly moved to form the Soroptimist Helping Hands Committee and unanimously voted to create the “Helping Hands Fund”.

A Helping Hand Makes All the Difference

Already, the Soroptimist Helping Hands Fund has been a resounding success. During the first year, $5,000.00 in grants, from $37.00 to $500.00, were given out to women in crisis. Soroptimist has assisted 129 women (and their families) in the amount of $32,400.00.  Soroptimist has also doubled the amount of assistance after recognizing the need for emergency funds in their community. 

One agency’s executive director was delighted to provide a quote to the local newspaper and praised the fund by saying, “This program is working wonders with our clients…(providing for) those needs beyond our scope of service.  Like buying tires for someone’s car that enables them to get to work.”

To be considered, agencies must complete an application process with the following criteria defined:

  1. An agency could request funds up to $500.00 (per individual woman) to help with needs that are not otherwise met through another agency or organization.
  2. Funds are to be used for gas and electric bills, medical treatment or expenses, prescriptions, school tuition or books, auto or transportation expenses, household and utilities expenses.
  3. The agency must complete a formal application which identifies the need along with substantiating documentation to support the request.
  4. The agency submits the applications to the Soroptimist Helping Hands Committee Chair who distributes it for review and subsequent vote by the committee members.
  5. Approval requires a majority vote of the committee members.
  6. Upon approval, funds are disbursed directly to the service provider or agency.
  7. Requests are handled in a timely matter and funds should be dispersed within a week (if not sooner) of the request/application.

The Helping Hands Fund provides emergency funds through (but not limited to) the following agencies:

  • El Dorado County Human Services and Senior Day Care Center
  • Hope House
  • Lilliput Children’s Service
  • The Center for Violence Free Relationships
  • Community Health Clinic
  • Marshall Cancer Resource Center
  • Marshall Medical Center Social Services

The Challenge and the Need

Income for the Helping Hands Fund is currently provided by two sources; earnings from the annual event “A Chocolate Affair” and the Soroptimist Women’s Health Fund.

The following shows how successful the program has been and how the disbursements have grown year after year:

  • 2009 -   $5,000
  • 2010 -   $7,070
  • 2011 -   $9,043
  • 2012 -   $10,396
  • 2013 -   $9,048
  • 2014 -   $5,332
  • 2015 -   $14,032
  • 2016 -   $14,225

Helping Hands strengthens our community by providing the most vulnerable and marginalized families with the temporary boost needed to help them get back on their feet. Soroptimist International of Placerville is pleased and honored to invest in their community. When Soroptimist is called upon to provide assistance, critical needs are provided.

It is through club member cooperation that Soroptimist International of Placerville, working through the local service agencies, is able to answer the call for help. Soroptimist is proud and humbled to know The Helping Hands Fund can be counted on in a time of crisis for someone in their community.

The long economic downturn, means the demand for the Helping Hands Program has never been greater. To keep pace with the current and future needs in our community, the Soroptimists must expand its Helping Hands program capacity to prevent those who are so close to self-sufficiency from falling through the cracks.

But the demands on the program is great – and the Soroptimists need your helping hand to help others in our community.

“Gratitude”

Soroptimist receives many heartfelt notes of thanks from the women who have received help from the Helping Hands Fund.  Here are just a sample of them…

“I am writing this letter to thank you for your generous gift of $398.00 for my granddaughter, Megan D.  We have legal guardianship of her and our friends at Lilliput Children’s Services helped us get a grant from you for her to have vision therapy with Dr. Zirhut in Placerville.  I have enclosed a letter we received from Dr. Zirhut stating the improvements he has seen after the therapy.  She is reading much better and not skipping words like she was before.  It was a great thing for your organization to do and we appreciate it very much.”

"Me and my little girl would like to thank all of you at the club for helping us get into our new home.  Now we can have a safe place to eat and sleep and put our clothes away!  God bless you.  Thank you.”

“Thank you so very much for the check to Dr. Goodiss for helping me with my great grandson’s dental.  Raising a child at my age is a challenge, but we’re doing fairly well.  He is a sweet loving boy and a pleasure to be with most of the time.  Thank you again.”

“To each of you I thank you all for your compassion for me.  Because of your financial assistance I am able to stay in my home.  I have had to live in my car and am doing all I can to have a home.  Thank you.”

“I have a home!  I owe it to women and sisters such as yourselves who may have no idea how you help guide and teach young single mothers such as myself.  I am just an anonymous recipient of the good you do on paper but in real life I am a woman who can smile again.  I can look people in the face again.  I can look myself in the face.  I could be your daughter, your granddaughter, but in God’s eyes we will always be sisters.  I promise to use this opportunity to change my life for the better so that I may lend a helping hand to another sister someday.  God bless you and thank you.”

Our Mission

Soroptimist improves the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.


For Family Services Agencies:

Soroptimist International of Placerville would like to inform you of our program to help women of all ages through difficult financial times.  We are offering up to $500 for an individual/family per year to cover emergency needs that are not otherwise met through all other community resources.  We have enclosed the Helping Hands application form for your use as needed.

Your organization may request funding for an individual when no other program funds are available to cover such emergency needs as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Auto Expenses  Rent/deposit
  • Emergency Household items when needed to start new housing
  • Medical treatment
  • Prescriptions    
  • School tuition or books
  • Utility bills for shut-off notice

Please email your request to helpinghands@siplacerville.org.  If you have any questions, you may call 530-344-1476 or Helping Hands Chair Charlotte Morgan 530-622-7703.

We look forward to working with you to provide services to our community members.

Download Application Below: