The Auen Foundation

Read With Me Program helping students, seeking volunteers

Dis­tance learn­ing is not get­ting in the way of a 16-year-old tutor­ing orga­ni­za­tion to keep doing what orga­niz­ers know is need­ed to help val­ley stu­dents. Read With Me Vol­un­teer Pro­grams did a major piv­ot this year, when the pan­dem­ic led to dis­tance learn­ing, and vol­un­teers con­tin­ued tutor­ing stu­dents – vir­tu­al­ly. The Auen Foun­da­tion is sup­port­ing the pro­gram with a $30,000 grant to train vol­un­teers, most of whom are peo­ple over 55. “The schools we work in have a high inci­dence of chil­dren liv­ing in homes where Eng­lish is not spo­ken. These chil­dren have lost a great deal of aca­d­e­m­ic progress since last March and need addi­tion­al tutor­ing more than ever,” said Rober­ta Klein, Founder of Read With Me, which nor­mal­ly trans­ports trained vol­un­teer tutors to schools in the east val­ley. “We have demon­strat­ed that poor­ly achiev­ing stu­dents that have a vol­un­teer tutor make twice as much aca­d­e­m­ic progress as the rest of the stu­dents in school.” Before the pan­dem­ic, Read With Me had about 750 vol­un­teers, many of whom are snow­birds. When Read With Me vol­un­teers were no longer able to tutor at school sites, the orga­ni­za­tion worked with Coachel­la Val­ley Uni­fied School Dis­trict to devel­op an effec­tive, vir­tu­al tutor­ing pro­gram. Read With Me estab­lished three train­ing loca­tions – at the Berg­er Char­i­ta­ble Cen­ter, South­west Church and Hope Luther­an Church – to train vol­un­teers how to use Zoom and help stu­dents with read­ing and Eng­lish lan­guage skills vir­tu­al­ly. Vol­un­teers can also train vir­tu­al­ly, if they live out­side the val­ley or are not com­fort­able com­ing to the social­ly dis­tanced, in-per­son training. “I feel so good after a tutor­ing ses­sion know­ing I am help­ing kids with some­thing as impor­tant as read­ing,” said Jay Kane, a Read With Me vol­un­teer tutor. “For many months at the start of the pan­dem­ic I had very lit­tle con­tact with oth­ers, and start­ed to feel some­what iso­lat­ed. Now, I feel con­nect­ed and like I’m doing some­thing impactful.” Kane start­ed vol­un­teer­ing with Read With Me in 2013 and worked with stu­dents in-per­son at Mec­ca Ele­men­tary School, but he says Read With Me made tran­si­tion­ing to vir­tu­al tutor­ing rel­a­tive­ly easy. Vol­un­teers can attend as many train­ing ses­sions as they want until they feel com­fort­able using the vir­tu­al method to tutor from home. All tutors must com­plete state and fed­er­al back­ground checks. Teach­ers facil­i­tate the Zoom ses­sions, cre­at­ing vir­tu­al break­out rooms with stu­dents and tutors. “The Read With Me pro­gram...
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Grant supports DAP’s COVID-19 Triage Clinic

A $50,000 grant from the Auen Foun­da­tion is help­ing serve desert res­i­dents with a COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic recent­ly opened at Desert AIDS Project (DAP) in Palm Springs. In mid-March, DAP health work­ers and oth­er staff quick­ly cre­at­ed the COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic over one week­end. It’s been open ever since. “Our goal is straight for­ward: save lives through COVID-19 test­ing and symp­tom treat­ment and save lives through keep­ing mod­er­ate­ly ill peo­ple in our care vers­es over­whelm­ing the valley’s emer­gency rooms,” said David Brinkman, CEO of DAP. “This grant is help­ing us accom­plish that.” In addi­tion to the COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic, DAP recent­ly opened a dri­ve-up ser­vice for peo­ple who qual­i­fy for test­ing to be eval­u­at­ed and swabbed for COVID-19 in their vehi­cles. All coro­n­avirus-relat­ed ser­vices are avail­able to any­one, regard­less of oth­er health con­di­tions, includ­ing diag­no­sis of HIV/AIDS, which is what DAP was orig­i­nal­ly estab­lished to sup­port. Since March 16, DAP report­ed see­ing an aver­age of 20 peo­ple per day at the COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic, but this capac­i­ty has increased to 40–50 per day by adding dri­ve-up ser­vice, which requires an appoint­ment by call­ing (760) 992‑0407. The non­prof­it is still see­ing clients for oth­er ser­vices dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.Hav­ing the ded­i­cat­ed COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic allows med­ical experts to screen patients demon­strat­ing symp­toms in a quar­an­tined space, while also allow­ing non-symp­to­matic patients to con­tin­ue hav­ing their health needs met with­out poten­tial exposure. “It is impor­tant that we keep our doors open dur­ing this time. Many peo­ple need the ser­vices we pro­vide,” said Brinkman. “That’s why this gift from the Auen Foun­da­tion is so important.” DAP is using the Auen Foun­da­tion gift to pur­chase med­ical sup­plies, includ­ing crit­i­cal per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, and gloves and pay for costs asso­ci­at­ed with main­tain­ing a ster­ile clin­ic envi­ron­ment. Funds also sup­port pro­fes­sion­al health staff. DAP’s COVID-19 Triage Clin­ic includes a board-cer­ti­fied infec­tious dis­ease clin­i­cian, a nurse prac­ti­tion­er, three reg­is­tered nurs­es, one licensed voca­tion­al nurse, and two reg­is­tra­tion per­son­nel. Cur­rent­ly, DAP is pre­pared to keep the clin­ic and test­ing oper­a­tions open through mid-June, but admin­is­tra­tion is mon­i­tor­ing com­mu­ni­ty needs and will adjust as necessary. “From our long­time his­to­ry of sup­port­ing DAP, we know the orga­ni­za­tion and the peo­ple there are com­mit­ted to respond­ing to the community’s ever-chang­ing needs,” said Catharine Reed, Pro­gram Direc­tor for the Auen Foun­da­tion, which is ded­i­cat­ed to enhanc­ing the over­all qual­i­ty of life of the aging pop­u­la­tion. “DAP act­ed quick­ly and...
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Foundation’s gift creates kid-friendly waiting area

Loma Lin­da Uni­ver­si­ty Children’s Health – Indio host­ed a rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mo­ny to cel­e­brate the open­ing of The Auen Foun­da­tion Children’s Play Area, made pos­si­ble by the foundation’s grant of $100,000 at the Jill & Bar­ry Gold­en Pavil­ion on Feb­ru­ary 18.  Sher­rie Auen, Trustee of The Auen Foun­da­tion — a non-prof­it, grant-mak­ing orga­ni­za­tion based in the Coachel­la Val­ley — said the part­ner­ship with Children’s Health – Indio was inspired after a tour of the state-of-the-art med­ical facil­i­ty, where they decid­ed to focus grant funds on the clinic’s wait­ing area.  “We saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make the clinic’s wait­ing area a lit­tle hap­pi­er,” Auen said. “The Children’s Play Area is meant to be com­fort­able and fun — to let a kid be a kid. It will be a ther­a­peu­tic space for chil­dren and families.”  Loma Lin­da Uni­ver­si­ty Children’s Health admin­is­tra­tion, offi­cials from the City of Indio, Big Hearts for Lit­tle Hearts – Desert Guild board mem­bers and patient fam­i­lies attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny to cel­e­brate The Auen Foundation’s gift.  Patients and their fam­i­lies who were in atten­dance received ted­dy bears and books donat­ed by the foun­da­tion. Emmanuel Presichi, 6, a for­mer patient, stood up with his par­ents to thank Children’s Health – Indio for car­ing for him and to thank The Auen Foun­da­tion for part­ner­ing with the clinic.  More than 3,000 chil­dren in the Coachel­la Val­ley receive care from Loma Lin­da Uni­ver­si­ty Children’s Health – Indio. The clin­ic offers a broad scope of pedi­atric ser­vices includ­ing gen­er­al pedi­atrics, behav­ioral health coun­sel­ing, pedi­atric gas­troen­terol­o­gy, pedi­atric neu­rol­o­gy, pedi­atric endocrinol­o­gy and den­tal...
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Seniors vital to Palm Springs International Film Festival

As celebri­ties, film­mak­ers, and the gen­er­al pub­lic of film­go­ers con­verge on the 31st Annu­al Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val (PSIFF), it will be the role of about 800 vol­un­teers to make the film fes­ti­val an unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence. More than 135,000 peo­ple are expect­ed at this year’s fes­ti­val, which touts near­ly 200 films from 81 countries.  “With so many mov­ing parts, the fes­ti­val would not be pos­si­ble with­out our ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teer corps and the sup­port of gen­er­ous donors, such as the Auen Foun­da­tion,” said Kristin Bloomer, Spon­sor­ship and Devel­op­ment Man­ag­er for the Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Film Soci­ety, which pro­duces both the Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val in Jan­u­ary and the Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Short­Fest in June.  A $40,000 grant from the Auen Foun­da­tion sup­ports the recruit­ment, train­ing, man­age­ment and reten­tion of fes­ti­val vol­un­teers, 90 per­cent of which are seniors par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Festival’s Senior and Active Retire­ment Pro­grams. The grant also off­sets the cost of film fes­ti­val tick­ets for senior vol­un­teers, senior cen­ters and com­mu­ni­ty groups. “We believe this part­ner­ship with the Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val enrich­es the lives of our local seniors by pro­vid­ing them more access to this world-class event and get­ting them involved in their com­mu­ni­ty,” said Sher­rie Auen, Pro­gram Direc­tor for the Auen Foun­da­tion. “Vol­un­teer­ing helps peo­ple feel val­ued, and our seniors have so much to contribute.” Pri­or to the PSIFF, vol­un­teers assist the small, year-round fes­ti­val staff by answer­ing phones, per­form­ing cler­i­cal func­tions, dis­trib­ut­ing posters and rack cards, cat­a­logu­ing films, and even par­tic­i­pat­ing in the screen­ing process. Once Palm Springs’ pre­mier event is under­way, a com­plex sched­ul­ing sys­tem ensures that vol­un­teers are tak­ing tick­ets at every screen­ing, count­ing bal­lots for the Audi­ence Awards, wel­com­ing guests at Fes­ti­val par­ties and spe­cial events and mak­ing every­one feel like a VIP at the Film Awards Gala.  The 31st Annu­al Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val, one of the largest film fes­ti­vals in North Amer­i­ca, runs Jan­u­ary 2–13, 2020. The Film Awards Gala, held on Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 2, hon­ors cin­e­mat­ic achieve­ments from some of Hollywood’s most cel­e­brat­ed tal­ents. For more infor­ma­tion about the Palm Springs Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val or how to vol­un­teer, vis­it www.psfilmfest.org or call 760–778-8979 or...
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Auen Foundation grants will help students in financial “gap”

While col­lege is an excit­ing time for many stu­dents, oth­ers have the stress­ful real­i­ty of financ­ing their edu­ca­tion to sup­port their dreams. Two grants from the Auen Foun­da­tion aim to alle­vi­ate that bur­den for some local col­lege stu­dents caught in what is termed a “gap.” This is where many stu­dents fall when they don’t qual­i­fy for state and fed­er­al need-based aid, but have dif­fi­cul­ty pay­ing for col­lege expens­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly when unfore­seen cir­cum­stances arise. “Many stu­dents are above the income thresh­old, but are still strug­gling to pay for school and the cost of liv­ing,” said Peter Stur­geon, with the Col­lege of the Desert (COD) Foun­da­tion, which received a $50,000 grant to assist stu­dents in its rig­or­ous nurs­ing pro­gram. “This is espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult for those peo­ple sup­port­ing more than just them­selves. Many of our nurs­ing stu­dents are sin­gle par­ents and vet­er­ans, look­ing to improve their lives and the finan­cial secu­ri­ty of their families.” “These funds will help stu­dents who are prob­a­bly already mak­ing sac­ri­fices and fac­ing chal­lenges to attend uni­ver­si­ty,” said Dr. Sharon Brown-Wel­ty, Dean of Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardi­no (CSUSB) Palm Desert Cam­pus, which received a $50,000 grant ear­marked for emer­gency assis­tance for qual­i­fy­ing students. As stu­dents apply for these emer­gency grants, CSUSB Palm Desert Cam­pus admin­is­tra­tors plan to col­lect addi­tion­al data to deter­mine con­sis­tent obsta­cles that impede on col­lege stu­dents’ suc­cess­es. It is already known that the col­lege attain­ment rate in the Coachel­la Val­ley is less than 30 per­cent for all adults, and only 12 per­cent for His­pan­ic adults, which make up 40 per­cent of the com­mu­ni­ty. Under­stand­ing how to attract and sup­port addi­tion­al stu­dents is a com­po­nent of how the Auen Foun­da­tion gift will fur­ther assist CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. “The Auen Foun­da­tion believes in the impor­tance of high­er edu­ca­tion in our com­mu­ni­ty, and we con­tin­u­al­ly look for ways to part­ner with our local col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties,” said Catharine Reed, Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer of the Auen Foun­da­tion. “A col­lege edu­ca­tion is becom­ing increas­ing­ly crit­i­cal for job secu­ri­ty, and we want to sup­port those stu­dents in our area who are mak­ing a com­mit­ment to achieve that goal.” Each insti­tu­tion has its own appli­ca­tion process to qual­i­fy stu­dents for grants between $1,500-$2,500 per cal­en­dar year to sup­port imme­di­ate and short-term chal­lenges that hin­der indi­vid­ual suc­cess. Fund­ing is allo­cat­ed on a case-by-case basis, but pos­si­ble uses may include text­book and oth­er course sup­plies, short-term trans­porta­tion needs, sup­port for house­hold basics in extra­or­di­nary...
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Auen Foundation sponsors two guide dog puppies in training

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Auen Foun­da­tion recent­ly met two pup­pies they are spon­sor­ing for guide dog train­ing at Guide Dogs of the Desert. Sher­rie Auen, Pro­gram Direc­tor, and Catharine Reed, Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer, named the stan­dard poo­dles Katie and Sandy after fam­i­ly members. “It was great to meet these pup­pies, which will be trained to make an impor­tant impact in two people’s lives,” said Reed. “These lov­able pup­pies have no idea how impor­tant that are.” The pup­pies will first be raised by a fos­ter fam­i­ly until they are 18–20 months old, and then they will live and train at the facil­i­ty in White­wa­ter where they will par­tic­i­pate in a rig­or­ous 4–6 month train­ing. If the dogs com­plete the pro­gram and reach grad­u­a­tion, each will be placed with a per­son who is visu­al­ly impaired. Togeth­er this new team will train fur­ther at the organization’s live-in facil­i­ty for 28 days in order for the dog to help pro­vide its new own­er safe mobil­i­ty, com­pan­ion­ship and independence. Since 1972, Guide Dogs of the Desert has grad­u­at­ed more than 1,375 teams from its pro­gram, all accred­it­ed by the Inter­na­tion­al Guide Dog Fed­er­a­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion breeds and has rela­tion­ships with breed­ers of Labrador Retriev­ers, Gold­en Retriev­ers, Stan­dard Poo­dles, and some Ger­man Shepherds. “By care­ful­ly main­tain­ing a spe­cif­ic pedi­gree, we increase our suc­cess of grad­u­at­ing high­ly qual­i­fied dogs that can tru­ly enhance a person’s life,” said Sarah Clapp, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Guide Dogs of the Desert. “It was won­der­ful to see how these pup­pies are cared for and trained in a very spe­cif­ic way that has a high suc­cess rate,” said Auen. “We are look­ing for­ward to com­ing back to watch our Katie and Sandy grad­u­ate with their own­ers and see them off to a life of ser­vice that only these spe­cial­ly-trained dogs can pro­vide. It’s all very heart­warm­ing, and we are hap­py to be a part of this process.” Guide Dogs of the Desert is locat­ed at 60735 Dil­lon Road, White­wa­ter. For more infor­ma­tion vis­it guidedogsofthedesert.org or call (760)...
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