Almost $1 million coming to South County

15 of the 89 agencies partnered with the United Way are
in Gilroy
Gilroy – Local nonprofit agencies will receive more than $950,000 of the $4.1 million raised by the United Way Silicon Valley this year for local programs.

“The two areas of the greatest need in Santa Clara County are the city of San Jose and Gilroy,” said Patty Eaton, communications manager for the United Way Silicon Valley. “A quarter of the people living in Santa Clara County are living below a level of self-sufficiency.”

Self-sufficiency is defined as the ability for one to obtain the basics in life such as housing, health care, clothing, food and transportation, she explained.

Due to the cost of living in Gilroy and the number of individuals without a high school diploma or fluency in English, the city was categorized as an area of greater need.

Fifteen of the 89 agencies partnered with the United Way Silicon Valley are located in Gilroy including the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and Community Solutions for Children, Families and Individuals, Inc.

“We’re able to use the funds towards prevention education here in Gilroy schools,” said Eleanor Villarreal, Chief Development Officer for Rebekah Children’s Services. “It’s one of the few ongoing sources of funding for us.”

The cost of running the program is upwards of $300,000, which the agency must raise in order to provide life skills education to more than 1,200 students in Gilroy Unified School District schools.

Classes teach age–appropriate information on how students can handle difficult situations they may encounter regarding pregnancy, peer pressure, drugs, and physical abuse.

Annually, the United Way Silicon Valley provides Rebekah Children’s Services with $15,000 in aid.

“It’s definitely a help,” Villarreal said.

The United Way was established in 1887 by a group of religious leaders in Denver who joined efforts to fundraise for a variety of causes.

The Silicon Valley branch was founded in 1922.

“If everyone gives a little it can help a lot,” Eaton said describing the theory behind the United Way.

The goal of the United Way is to provide people in crisis or who have immediate needs with basic services that will provide them with stability, she said.

More than 500 Santa Clara County businesses contributed to the United Way, with IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Knight Ridder leading the pack.