A project summary board hanging on the wall in the small but orderly offices of Hands in the Community (HNC) serves as a reminder to the unusually dedicated group of office volunteers of the impact their efforts are making in the community. For a great many people throughout Tulare County who have never heard of this hardworking non-profit in the almost five years of its existence, the short, precise handwritten notes on the board would provide for even the most unenlightened among us a quick perspective on the rather unique role they are filling in the Tulare/Kings County area.
A total of five neat work stations equipped with telephones, computers and small file cabinets line the walls of the office – the basic tools of the trade for these folks, most of whom will never even meet the people they work so hard to help.
A great many of the citizens of Visalia would be at a loss to explain to someone else just who Hands in the Community is and what they are about, in spite of the five years that HNC has steadily worked to expand the little niche among Tulare County’s 145 non-profits that the organization has carved out for itself in Visalia and the surrounding communities.
Though little more than brief notes, the summary board tells a story that’s not at all hard to follow. A fellow in Ivanhoe has a new wheelchair ramp, while a woman from Hanford received a ride to a clinic in San Francisco. Next is the name of a Porterville couple whose roof has been repaired. A fence repair for a man in Woodlake, and a car repair for a Visalia woman. A yard clean-up for a Tulare couple, and a refrigerator that went to another Visalia resident. Dental work for a Dinuba woman, and a man in Farmersville who received a bed, just to name a few.
The board, said Lester Moon, HNC’s energetic executive director and one of its three founding members, represents only completed projects for the current month and the list is erased at month’s end. “Each project,” Moon explained, “is done entirely with donated materials, labor or professional services. And in a nutshell, that’s essentially what we’re all about.”
Moon and the two other men created the concept of HNC to address what they saw as a growing, critical need in the area for someone to bridge the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, those with a need with those willing to share of whatever they have to give.
“In our volunteer files, we have many skilled tradesmen with valuable knowledge to share, businessmen who would donate materials for a project and a great many people with time on their hands simply wanting to help out in order to make a positive difference in their communities,” he said.
“We never thought that we would see it grow as fast as it has, but the need in our area is tremendous,” Moon added. “The worsening plight of the elderly has driven our growth, in part.” The elderly on fixed incomes and the disabled make up a large percentage of HNC’s clients.
Moon’s is working to extend HNC’s presence throughout Kings and Tulare counties, and the communities represented on the summary board would indicate that the tireless efforts of his volunteers are having an impact far from the tiny office in which they work. Past projects undertaken by HNC have included extensive roof repairs, complete home painting and complete yard makeovers, just to name a few.
The wide ranging list of HNC’s many benefactors is also an indicator that Moon’s vision for HNC is gaining traction; from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Frank’s Appliances, Visalia Lumber and Franey’s Carpets, to businesses as diverse as Financial Credit Network, Keller Williams Realty and the Glen Wells Construction Co. who have donated the office space for HNC.
Hands in the Community offers its services to anyone with a legitimate need who lives below the poverty line. For more information, to donate to HNC or to volunteer with HNC, call 625-3822.
HNC is currently seeking donations for an entire roof replacement for a Porterville couple. Estimated cost of the project is $7,000.