Volunteers Work Together to Reach Those in Need
Helping HandsOctober 2015
By Jen May Pastores
“If you want the community to be better, you give back,” says Lester Moon, founder and executive director of Hands in the Community. “There are people sitting in their homes right now who need a little bit of help. They don’t have the resources to help themselves.”
Moon begins with a story of a phone call he received in the Christmas season just before the organization formally opened its doors in January 2009. A gentleman on the other line wanted to donate more than 60 brand-new toys, wrapped and ready to give away. The generosity came as a pleasant surprise for Moon, who went to the donor’s house and filled his truck to the brim with a collection of gifts. As with any good fortune, the blessings continued to make a positive spiral outwards, influencing anyone in its way. Moon connected with a woman named Gloria at the Ambassadors of Christ Church in north Visalia, asking if he could deliver the gifts to the families they serve. Together, Moon and Gloria walked door-to-door delivering the gifts to families in need. Moon admits that he kept one of the gifts, a vintage toy train, which serves as a reminder of the provisions Hands in the Community has received since the start. “Every time I see that, I’m reminded of what God has provided,” says Moon.
The organization stands on the shoulders of more than 1,100 volunteers who support it through various hands-on skills, such as professionals donating their services, volunteers picking up people in their car and driving them to a doctor’s appointment, or teams helping to clear out environmental hazards surrounding a house. “The first major project involved an 81-year-old widow named Anna. She called our office, talked to one of our volunteers, and asked for help. She shared that her husband died of cancer, and in the last four years of living in the house, she needed help with her yard and house. We organized 29 people and went on her property in the morning. By lunchtime, Anna tells me these people are amazing and doing more than I expected. It didn’t matter that we had people from different churches or different ages. We had people just wanting to help. We’re doing this every day, every week, every month,” explains Moon.
As someone who has been the recipient of others reaching out to him during his youthful and troublesome days, Moon grew up without the luxuries of running water, electricity and sometimes food. He fondly remembers families caring for him and speaks with deep gratitude of the help that touched his life. Moon dedicates his life to serving others and encourages people to do the same for anyone in need.
“Your time and abilities are precious. Share your gifts and those abilities with people,” says Moon. “A lot of the people we help are single parents, widows and widowers, young families and seniors.”
This will be the sixth year that Hands in the Community holds its silent auction, a celebration of what it has accomplished as a community. It’s expected that around 300 to 400 supporters will attend the event at the Visalia Convention Center. Last year, they had more than 100 silent auction items raised in excess of $30,000. They hope to exceed that amount this year. “Every year we get to tell more stories of how we meet people’s needs. The challenge we’ve always had is staying ahead of the curve. We will always have more needs than we can meet. We want to do more,” says Moon. Hands in the Community has an open invitation for donations, funds, connections and volunteers wanting to make a difference. “We are an organization helping people help others. It’s all about the connections. We are stronger together.”
Hands in the Community • (559) 625-3822 • www.hnconline.org
Harvest the Blessing Fundraiser
Friday, October 30, 6-9pm
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