Organization aids underprivileged students

Unspoken Works distributed bicycles to needy local students at Christmas time. 

Santa Clara County is one of the nation’s most prosperous areas. Highly paid Silicon Valley workers have supported an economy featuring luxury cars, expensive homes and high-quality social amenities. Our South Valley area, however, is not so fortunate. Gilroy trails the rest of the county, having high rates of poverty, unemployment and schools struggling to meet the needs of their students.

A new, all-volunteer organization focuses on the needs of local students. Unspoken Works was formed in 2010 by Lisa Bruce and Jacqueline Dilly. Their original goal was to provide bicycles and gift stockings for local children who were otherwise unlikely to receive gifts for Christmas. That vision has expanded to include delivery of Easter baskets, backpacks filled with required school supplies and personal hygiene supply kits. Unspoken Works forecasts it will deliver services to more than 400 children this calendar year.

But Bruce wanted to meet the needs of even more children and is organizing the group’s first charity event: a silent auction Saturday, June 9, at Hecker Pass Winery. This will not only help expand the number of children they serve, but will also provide a fun night out with food and music – plus the opportunity to bid on 80 auction lots that just might represent huge discounts on luxury items, sports memorabilia, meals and entertainment, all while contributing to a cause helping local children.

Unspoken Works arose out of a personal crisis. A workplace disability forced Bruce to leave the workforce in 2003. While volunteering in the classrooms of local schools, she soon noticed how poverty affected the lives of many students who were often ostracized by their classmates because they couldn’t afford things that others took for granted.

She started to recruit friends to serve on a board of directors and arranged with the Gilroy First Baptist Church to establish a non-profit “pass-through” account using the church’s tax identification number. Thus, Unspoken Works can remain completely nonsectarian while still being able to accept tax-deductible contributions from the public.

Here are examples of how they meet the needs of children:

– At Christmas, they presented gifts to children identified as needy. With the cutback in funding for school busing, bicycles have become a practical gift, and 150 were distributed last Christmas. Also, 150 stockings containing toys, candy, and small gifts were distributed to children who didn’t receive bikes.

– At Easter, 100 baskets with candy, small toys and a short message of hope were presented to needy children.

– School backpacks filled with required supplies for middle school students who can’t afford to buy them are made available to local schools.

– Kits are given to children who are bullied by classmates because of poor personal hygiene. These bags contain toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and soap.

Unspoken Works’ June 9 fundraising event is at 4 p.m. at the La Vigna Event Center (4605 Hecker Pass Highway). The goal is to raise $6,000 to meet the needs of underprivileged children in San Benito and Santa Clara counties and support the work of schools, foster care programs and social services agencies in the upcoming year.

Tickets are $40 and include appetizer, dinner and dessert. Local DJ Kevin Walton of Bravo Events Productions and a youth violinist will provide entertainment. As well as the auction, there will be a 50/50 raffle (where half the money prize will go to the winner and half will go to the charity).

For more information about Unspoken Works or to purchase tickets to this event, call Lisa Bruce at (408) 821-8180 or email [email protected] More details are also available at www.unspokenworks.com.

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