Hands in the Community Battles Challenges to Help Local Seniors
Last updated 11/11/2023 at 12:29pm | View PDF
"We are serving the senior community," said Lester Moon about Hands in the Community (HNC), the charitable organization he founded over 15 years ago.
"Ninety-five percent of our clientele are seniors," he said, adding that HNC does a wide range of tasks for them, including building ramps, performing household repairs, painting homes, building fences and providing rides.
"We're the only place these people have to go," said Moon. "We don't charge for services."
HNC holds several fundraising events a year. The 14th Annual Love Your Neighbor event, held at the Visalia Convention Center on October 12 was a successful fundraiser.
"We hit the goal of $80,000 gross, but with food and rental, the net will be a lot less," said Moon, but he noted that, "This year's event did better than previous years."
In an interview from 2021, Moon said he hopes to see HNC become more self-sustainable, with the increase of paid administrative staff and growth in business and church participation.
Unfortunately, charities such as HNC have more challenges now than in previous years.
Raising money is "like pulling teeth," according to Moon. "When expenses go up, discretionary spending goes down.
"There are not enough donations," he continued. "We will always struggle with the need for more people and more resources."
Many of HNC's challenges, however, involve recent changes in rules and regulations. Moon explained that building a ramp for someone unable to use the steps to a patio now requires a permit, and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that ramps must have railings. A two-step ramp now costs $800-$1,000.
"During COVID, a piece of plywood went from $18 a sheet to $80 a sheet," he said, adding that inflation and regulations have increased the time of some projects that took three-to-six weeks to six to nine months "if we can get the money for the materials."
HNC is always looking for volunteers to assist with its projects. Not everyone needs to build fences or fix plumbing.
"You can make some phone calls or pick up raffle donations," said Moon.
HNC also needs people to help organize or assist with its events. Currently, someone with social media experience is especially needed.
"They don't have to do all the social media, maybe just Facebook or TicToc or Instagram," said Moon.
To make a donation to HNC, visit hnconline.org. Tax deductible donations may be made as a check, on a credit card or through PayPal.
Moon said that 200% of each donation to goes back to the community.
"If you give a dollar to the Salvation Army, 71¢ goes back into the community," he said, noting that HCN gives back 120% more. He explained that each project they undertake includes the time of volunteers, often performing work that could cost $30 an hour or more. Also, HNC often has materials for its projects donated.
Over the years, HNC has partnered with community agencies such as Visalia Rescue Mission, Visalia Emergency Aid Council, Family Services of Tulare County, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Health and Human Services, Veterans Services, the District Attorney's Office, CSET and Samaritan's Center.