Now more than ever, Avenues SLS needs to fill the gaps in funding that the state is not covering. With no rate increases from California since 2016, all of our state revenue goes towards wages for our instructional coaches. Your donation in any amount will help Avenues SLS with costs for mileage, sterile gloves, absorbent seat pads (for universal precautions), sunscreen and other necessities for the people we coach. We do printing and distributing supplies for their Soles for Souls volunteer work, for travel-related costs (occasional need for wheelchair accessible van rental), conference costs, and other service enhancements. Every day is inspiring to us as we see the people Avenues SLS supports making a difference in their communities through competitive integrated work opportunities, volunteering, micro-businesses and attending Avenues SLS event fundraisers. The value they bring to the community not only motivates those around them but also changes perceptions the public might have about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We love to share success stories and help the community learn about what Avenues SLS is doing to support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. Here are just a few, of the many examples we would like to share with you. This year, in addition to their many volunteer endeavors, Julie, Melanie, Pam M., John, and Dan H. thrived with their micro-businesses of selling fresh flowers, hand-made crafts and maintaining vending machines. Janelle & Jereth, now in their fourth year on the job, continue to grow at Results Fitness and Target respectively. In addition to working three other seasonal jobs, Javen has been a loyal employee at the Dollar Tree store for over 14 years; Buddy continues his work through Briteworks; Heather enjoys working at Edwards Regal Cinemas (over 20 years) and Marshall’s (over 10 years); Aaron B. works in the Avenues SLS office plus a seasonal job at the pumpkin patch; Dave carries on in his 14th year at Ralph’s market; Jett started taking some art classes at the local college to further his career in graphic design.

This year, the people Avenues SLS supports, their staff and families contributed over 2,500 hours of community volunteering in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys. We welcomed 30 new business sponsors and over 200 in-kind event donations to auction at our annual events. That seems BIG for a small, local non-profit. However, we still had to tap into reserves to meet payroll and other expenses in 2019. That is why we are reaching out to our valued friends, businesses and community members. If we can get a continuous donation stream and grants from large local corporations it will alleviate the stress of using our reserves to meet payroll until California adequately addresses the minimum wage mandates with an increase to our state reimbursement rates that matches our actual costs. Please join us by investing in our mission to provide valued roles and inclusive opportunities to adults with intellectual & developmental disabilities. You can help us raise funds by donating online for #givingtuesday on and after December 3, 2019, or towards Avenues SLS’ year-end Volunteer Transportation Campaign.

You can read more in-depth details on this campaign by texting the word “Fuel” to 71777 on your handheld device. There you can find a few examples of volunteer positions held by people we support such as; Steve distributing flowers at the SCV Convalescent Hospital; Ronda, retired from the Regional Center at age 80, volunteering at the Avenues SLS Office, Pam A.; giving of her time at Best Friends Animal Society; Christopher volunteering at the Salvation Army, Hart Park & Soles for Souls. In addition, Aaron E. donates to local Fire Departments, delivers flowers to receptionists at other non-profit agencies and delivers food to the homeless. Cheryl continues to work as an advocate and volunteer as a founding board member of Avenues SLS. Again, your support is important to Avenues SLS so that we can continue to provide quality service and further our mission. We want to show our community that we can and are making a difference! With great appreciation, we thank you for your support.

Happy Holidays! Sincerely, Lori Shepard Scott Shepard