It is hard to believe that 2018 is already half over, and, with only six months left in the year, there is still so much to do! It seems like we here at Reach Out Morongo Basin are in continual motion. In looking forward, I cannot help but look to the past as this year we are celebrating a huge milestone – our 20th Anniversary – and we are so excited to share it with you.
In preparation for writing this, I looked back into our old files to get a feel of what it must have been like “back in the day” as a fledgling organization.
The original concept for Reach Out 29 came about in early 1998 when a group of individuals started building a Coalition of Faith congregations, health, and human services agencies and other community groups to address needs of our under-served neighbors. In June 1998, the Twentynine Palms Ministerial Association partnered with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation for initial matching funds to create an Interfaith Volunteer Caregiving program of Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors, and Reach Out 29 was born. The first year and a half was spent establishing the organization with a Board of Directors, establishing governance and administration, and the hiring of the first Executive Director, Anita Neu-Fultz. At the end of its first full year of operations in December 1999, Reach Out 29 received its 501(c)3 status and had served 107 neighbors in Twentynine Palms.
In February 2001, Sandy Fleck assumed the position of Executive Director, and, under her leadership, Reach Out 29 continued to grow. The Workability Program for job training, friendly visits, yard work and home repair, shopping assistance, and more were some of the programs offered. During her tenure, Reach Out 29 also began providing no-cost transportation to doctors’ appointments in a van donated to the organization, moved into the Twentynine Palms Senior Center in 2006, expanded services in 2007 with an office in the Yucca Valley Senior Center, and we became Reach Out Morongo Basin.
As I sit here now, I reflect on my 7 years as Executive Director and can see how very far we have come as an organization. In 2017, we served over 1,300 neighbors in the Morongo Basin, we expanded our transportation program to include four new donated vans (two with wheelchair ramps), we continued our 5th year of collaboration with active duty military volunteers helping with yard work and home repairs, and we have been blessed to have received local and national recognition of our organization and our staff and to have the leadership of an amazing Board of Directors.
All this tells a story, but it is hard to put 20 years of service into words that express how happy we are, and so, we will be planning a 20TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY! We haven’t set the firm date yet, but we are looking at the end of September or middle of October, so please keep your eyes on our newsletters for dates. Of course, as a good non-profit always does, this will be a fundraiser so we can continue being “Neighbors Helping Neighbors!”
Peace, Love, and Happiness!
Robin Schlosser, Executive Director