The Unity Shoppe is celebrating its 100th Anniversary! The nonprofit’s “Yesterday ~ Today and Tomorrow” theme will showcase the businesses and individuals of all ages and backgrounds that have created an incredible community effort, one of staggering proportions and unique in all of America.
Kenny Loggins will perform with his band on Wednesday, September 7, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Jimmy Messina will be joining for songs reminiscent of their iconic years; Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys will be singing; with plenty of surprises in celebration of Unity’s 100 years of “neighbors helping neighbors”.
Pearl Chase began the companionate effort in 1917 with three committees that provided groceries for needy families at Christmas, toys for children even if they were used and broken, and a useful remembrance gift for seniors. Currently Unity Shoppe is a familiar “brand” and a household name largely due to the Annual Unity Telethon the second Saturday of each December with Kenny Loggins. This year will be the 30th Anniversary of Kenny’s involvement, and his advocacy has brought community awareness to this nonprofit.
Today, the Unity Shoppe provides eight year-round programs that annually serve approximately 20,000 low-income clients. Client visits total close to 70,000 yearly as groceries, work and school clothing, and school supplies are distributed. Many low-income, hard-working people are referred to the Unity Shoppe as the result of the loss of a job, or an illness of a parent or child that impacts fragile family finances. These proud people, qualified by documentation, are referred by over 300 other nonprofit agencies, schools, hospitals, and churches.
In addition, Unity’s job-training program, long-term disaster relief, and volunteer/internship opportunities help families recover, find better-paying jobs, and move beyond the need for assistance. The end result of all these services is that our entire community is more stable and secure. Welfare dependency is often prevented, and even homelessness is avoided when our neighbors who find themselves in crisis are referred to Unity.
Unity’s Senior Resource Center provides birthday and Christmas Gift Boxes for 3,300 seniors in board and care facilities, convalescent hospitals, and so on. These gifts are personalized with the exact items their caregivers indicate are needed, according to size, color, and style preferences.
As important as meeting crucial needs, the methods developed at the Unity Shoppe actually strengthen the family unit by offering parents the dignity of choosing the food their family will eat and the clothes their children will wear. Parents are seen as providing for their families in that rightful position of authority, and the children are not aware that the parents are not paying for the food and merchandise they receive. The immeasurable elements of hope and encouragement make all the difference as families in crisis return to self-sufficiency. In fact, the success of the Unity Shoppe is that the average client comes for help only 6.6 times before returning to a state of independence.
Thousands of volunteers find fulfillment by assisting others, and they help facilitate this incredible charity. Students receive Community Service Hours to graduate from high school, businesses send employees for Team Building experiences, and citizens desiring to help make a difference in the lives of others regularly show up to help.
Tickets are available at the Granada box office, (805) 899-2222, or online at granadasb.org.
Thomas D. Reed is executive director of Unity Shoppe.