Helping One Woman puts community’s focus monthly on someone’s need

The Helping One Woman July recipient is Amanda Lathrop. Community members are invited to the HOW monthly dinner Wednesday, July 18.
The Helping One Woman July recipient is Amanda Lathrop. Community members are invited to the HOW monthly dinner Wednesday, July 18. Special to the Sierra Star

Kayla Geest. Katie Joaquin of Oakhurst. Maria Gonzales who graduated from Yosemite High School. Ashley Hogan. The list goes on. You may even recognize some of the names.

These are all Mountain Area women who suffered a devastating loss, and the local Helping One Woman organization was there to make sure they weren’t alone.

HOW envisions a world where everyone is willing to provide comfort and support to another when they need hope restored to their life. The dedicated volunteers at HOW believe that helping one woman helps her family, and through that family they are helping the mountain area community.

We’re fortunate enough to have a vibrant and active chapter of the national Helping One Woman organization right here in our own town. The concept is simple but so very effective: One woman with $10 can buy another woman lunch. Ten woman with $10 can buy another woman groceries. One hundred women with $10 can make a real difference in another woman’s life.

If you’ve never been to a monthly HOW dinner I have one word: GO! The simplicity of what happens will impress you. You arrive and offer up your $10 donation. You have the option to purchase tickets for the prizes. You enjoy a lovely community dinner, and hear a bit about the month’s recipient. While you’re dining and meeting friends old and new, and perhaps learning that you’re taking home a prize or two, the volunteers at HOW are counting the donations and the announcement and the presentation is made at the end of that evening. At dinners I’ve attended, the money raised has ranged from several hundreds of dollars to, yes, over $3,000. In two short and joyful hours.

Attending the monthly dinners is the easiest way to become involved. But there are other ways. Prize donations are constantly needed, and while local merchants always step up, others in the community also donate items such as a decorative basket of items perhaps picked up at Grocery Outlet. Homemade cakes, cookies or jams are always a big hit. A bottle of wine. Or hand-crocheted pot holders. It’s all about the fun and the camaraderie.

The HOW July recipient is Amanda Lathrop. When she and her husband Jason were expecting their first child, they were told he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome – which is in essence half a heart. Little Byson has had three open-heart surgeries and last fall he had a stroke. Shortly after, Jason was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Amanda has somehow managed to wake up each morning and see each day through, dealing with the multiple surgeries for Byson and the chemo and radiation for Jason. This family can use our entire community’s support, and you can show that love by attending the dinner at Taqueria Plazuelas on Wednesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.

And if you know a woman who has suffered a devastating loss, attending the dinner is an opportunity for you to fill out a nomination form. The recipient will be chosen that night and be honored the following month.

HOW dinners are always at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month. HOW asks that you please RSVP so they know how many to expect. And one other important item: Men are welcomed and encouraged to attend. Everyone’s support is part of what HOW is all about.

To RSVP or drop off prize donations: Call Tokens at 559-658-5428.

To be alerted to upcoming dinners, like the HOW Oakhurst Facebook page, or email howoakhurstchapter@gmail.com and ask to be put on the distribution list.