When Tracy nonprofits need help getting started, they turn to Good Samaritan Community Services of San Joaquin County.
Since 1974, the organization better known as Good Sam has helped local efforts get off the ground, including Brighter Christmas, Tracy Volunteer Caregivers, the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, Tracy Firefighters Charity and countless others.
According to Steve Abercrombie, a Good Sam board member since 2003, the group allows organizations to use its 501c3 nonprofit status with the federal government while they set in order their own 501c3 paperwork — a process that can take several months.
President Dan Schack likened Good Sam to a “mother hen” that hatches charitable efforts into the city.
On Jan. 14, the Good Sam board considered acting as an incubator for one hatching and one fledgling effort.
Lori Souza proposed a program named Case for Kids that would give foster children in Tracy plastic bins as personal storage space and as a way to move their belongings from one home to the next, a simple accommodation often overlooked in the foster system.
“Children are placed in foster care, and they usually are placed with nothing,” she told the Good Sam board. “If they do come with anything, it’s usually used clothes in a black plastic bag.”
She also wants to fill those bins with clothing, bed sheets, dental care items and a Bible. She said there are precious few resources for the 117 foster children in Tracy and Mountain House.
“(There’s) nothing in Northern California like this at all,” she said.
Denise Hayes, who was tagged by Souza as Case for Kids’ probable secretary, said the project would improve the well-being of boys and girls shuttled through the system. As a foster mother to 14 children in six years, Hayes has seen the need.
“I’ve picked up children with old clothes, that don’t fit, in a trash bag,” she said. “That’s bad for their self-esteem.”
Souza estimated it would take some storage space, 60 bins and clothing donations to get started, and said she’s working toward a 501c3 identification.
The GWF Foundation also asked for Good Sam’s help on Jan. 14.
While the foundation is already established, it needs a clearinghouse to hold money it receives from GWF Energy, a company that runs a power plant on the western edge of the city. The foundation, which is seeking nonprofit status, decides what local charities will receive the money from GWF.
It severed ties in 2012 with former clearinghouse Tri-Valley Community Foundation, which lost nearly $250,000 that GWF Energy had donated to the Tracy foundation.
Gene Birk, who sits on the Good Sam and GWF Foundation boards, said the money was likely mismanaged by Tri-Valley’s former director, David Rice, though he said the matter is under investigation.
“We don’t believe the money went into anyone’s pocket,” Birk said. “We believe the gentleman gave the money to other nonprofits that he shouldn’t have.”
GWF pledged to replace the $55,000 2012 that was lost by Tri-Valley and agreed to give the GWF Foundation $55,000 a year for 10 years starting in 2013.
But rather than return to Tri-Valley or pay another company to steward its funds, GWF Foundation board member Sean Kelly said it’s a better idea to become a nonprofit and use Good Sam’s nonprofit identification until that status can be established.
The Good Sam board agreed that both were worthy projects and voted to continue its tradition of helping local charities spread their wings — as long as, Schack said, “there weren’t too many other eggs in the nest.”
“There’s probably going to be room for both these organizations,” he said.
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.