Helping Hands, feeding the Tri-Community for 40 years
Helping Hands community volunteers Shari and Bob Hedden, with Pastor Dave, stand in front of the Pantry shelves. Photo by Terri Hill
By Terri Hill
Helping Hands organization has been helping to feed the Tri-Community since 1977. As the Fire Chief in Wrightwood, from 1968 to 1988, Bob Hedden assisted in 90% of the ambulance calls. In doing so, Bob noticed a trend among the older residents, they were not eating balanced, nutritional diets regularly. Bob and his wife Shari attribute the problem, in part, to one spouse losing the other, to illness or death. “Older couples tend to work as a team, when preparing food, keeping house, all of that,” he said. “When half of the team is gone, it can create trauma for the one who is left.” Together with a loss of income, that trauma can lead to a decline in shopping habits and meal preparation, resulting in poor nutrition. Hedden was also meeting families with children who did not have access to proper nutrition. With no one else distributing food in the Tri-Community, the Heddens felt they needed to take action. In 1977 Bob, Shari, and her mother, Irma Waag, started the Helping Hands food pantry and distribution. Many people were interested in lending their knowledge and services to the volunteer organization. Through one such contact, Helping Hands was incorporated and able to apply for, and receive, their 501c3 tax-exempt status. They got many volunteers, in Wrightwood, Phelan, and Pinon Hills, and with plenty of food donations, “We were off to a good start,” Bob said. Through notices in the Mountaineer, and the Heddens’ membership in the Lions, residents were made aware of the need, and they responded. Although they were not otherwise associated, Wrightwood’s Methodist Church donated their basement for storage, and weekly distributions began. Later, they started the holiday meal program, bagging and handing out the groceries for a full family-size dinner. Stater Bros. would, at the time, allow the organization to purchase 50 to 75 holiday turkeys at the advertised sale price, at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. After 40 years administering the Helping Hands food distribution, many things have changed. Stater Bros. has changed its policy, and no longer offers a deal on bulk turkey purchases. Fortunately, Jim Cowen, General Manager at Golden State Water in Wrightwood, has arranged for the company to donate turkeys, helping to fill the 75 to 100 requests the organization fills each Thanksgiving. Donations of food at holiday times is still generous, coming mostly from members of the church, and monetary donations are still made by locals and weekenders. However, the supply of canned and dry goods for everyday requests, has become rather sparse. Bob said they have food to give to those in need, but the shelves are not as well stocked as they have historically been. He and the rest of the volunteers hope that this article will spur awareness of the local need for assistance. Donations of non-perishable foods can be dropped off at the church on weekdays. Phelan and Pinon Hills residents are encouraged to donate and volunteer. For many years, both communities supported a donation center for Helping Hands, and since then the Wrightwood site has continued to serve all three areas. Additionally, the Heddens are stepping down from their 40-year administrative positions. Now in their 80s, the couple is ready to hand over the reins to a younger person, or couple. Bob explained the administrator would not have to spend a lot of time on the position’s responsibilities. He or she would have a board, which meets quarterly, and a treasurer who handles the finances. A CPA takes care of the taxes. Organizing the holiday distribution, and making arrangements for weekly pick-ups are the main areas of responsibility for the administrator. Please call (760) 249-6633, if you have an interest in working with this vital community program.
PPHCSD to host traveling Vietnam memorial By Terri Hill
At last week’s meeting of the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District (PPHCSD), the Board discussed and approved (4 to1) a plan to host the AV Wall, Antelope Valley Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall. If the application is accepted by the managing 501(c)3, Point Man Antelope Valley (PMAV), the wall will be on display Memorial weekend, 2018. PPHCSD Parks Committee presented recommendations for the memorial’s display location, at the north side of the PPHCSD office and adjacent grass area and shade shelter. The area will require a temporary ground cover and a platform for the wall, built to specifications determined by PMAV. Plants will decorate the area during the May 25 – 28, 2018 display, and be repurposed for the park, after the memorial is gone. The cost of displaying the wall is estimated at $10,000 to $12,000, less donations from clubs, organizations, and individuals. Covered by that amount would be the cost to host the wall, rental of tables and chairs, site preparation, and security for the duration of the event. Fees collected for hosting the wall go directly to the maintenance, storage, and travel of the AV Wall. Assemblyman Obernolte has offered a donation, along with the Ferrarese Charitable Foundation. The Builders Club at heritage will be involved, as will the band and choral groups from Serrano. The AV Wall is a half-scale replica of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is nearly the length of a football field, at 252 feet. At its apex, the wall is 6 feet tall. The names of all Vietnam KIA (Killed in Action) and MIA (Missing in Action) are engraved on the AV Wall. Visitors are allowed to obtain a pencil rubbing of names of family or friends. The AV Wall was fabricated at Signs and Designs in Palmdale. It was dedicated on November 3, 2009, at Heritage Airpark at Palmdale Plant. PMAV is the guardian of The AV Wall, and have dedicated a committee to oversee all aspects of the Wall. They are responsible for the maintenance, storage, and displaying of the Memorial. This is an important part of healing for many Vietnam Veterans. Point Man Antelope Valley (PMAV) is a branch of Point Man International Ministries (PMIM), a non-profit organization for the purpose of addressing and meeting the spiritual, physical, an emotional needs of veterans and their families. Mike Bertell is the PMAV Outpost Leader. He conducts weekly talk-therapy meetings for veterans. He is assisted by Gerry Rice, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a special emphasis on veteran issues. Meetings are held every Tuesday at 6:30pm at the Military Resource Center in Mental Health America, 506 W. Jackman, Lancaster, CA 93534. All Veterans are welcome. Source: http://www.avwall.org/point-man-antelope-valley/.
Local Filmmaker Always with a Fascinating Story by Carol Bishop
In the “olden days,” life seemed simpler and safer. Picking up a hitchhiker not only helped someone out, but often led to an entertaining story or conversation during the shared journey. Ermanno Vanino, a local Pinon Hills resident, not only enjoys a good story, but is adept at passing it along better than most. After graduating from the University of Iowa in film and broadcasting, Ermanno moved to Washington, D.C. For ten years he produced political and NFL United Way spots, developing a skill for delivering a meaningful, emotion-evoking story in 60 seconds or less! From there he moved to New York and focused on environmental stories for the local public television station. Finally he made the big move to Hollywood, but to his chagrin found that 20-30,000 other film editors were already there, fighting for employment. Lucky for Delta Rescue. Along with other jobs, Ermanno spent the next twenty years producing videos and an infomercial for Delta Rescue in Akton. His work, sent to donors on DVDs and videotapes and broadcasted on television, told the stories of individual animals needing to be rescued. Currently he is a free-lancer working in both the public and private domains, and whatever he’s doing, he’s still telling a story. A couple years ago, Ermanno and his wife, while driving home from camping at McGee Creek, passed the giant hitchhiker sculpture found in the Olancha Sculpture garden off of US 395. He wanted to learn the stories behind the form and the artist that had made it, and he thought others would be interested, too. And that is how the first episode, “Jael and Noa,” of his series Desert Dwellers came to be. Creating a portfolio of six episodes consisting of “Fascinating stories told by the people who call the harshness, beauty and solitude of the American Southwest home,” Ermanno hopes to eventually parlay his work into a series, which he can sell to public television. He is the researcher, writer, cameraman, sound engineer, director, and producer. His first five episodes have featured people and locations of interest right here in our backyard, not more than a 3-hour drive from Pinon Hills. Each episode can be enjoyed as a documentary or as a travelogue. James Toenjes, the “migratory painter,” in the Alabamas in front of Mt. Whitney, James “Tinker” Darr at his Kramer (Junction) Antiques shop, and Alfredo Figueroa with the geoglyphs outside of Blythe are not only interesting to learn about, but can be a day-trip destination. Adapting to the digital world, Ermanno has adjusted his story delivery. FaceBook’s promotions service determined that the average viewer spends only three to eight seconds in deciding whether or not to watch something in its entirety. Titles and tag words are extremely important in getting a viewer to your page or site in the first place. Even after a person chooses to watch something, their attention span usually doesn’t last long. Based on these considerations and wanting to reach as large an audience as possible, Ermanno adapts his pieces accordingly. Desert Dweller episodes range from six to ten minutes in length and are available on his website and Facebook page. He’s also usually making thrice-weekly FB postings and trying to find even shorter stories within his stories for future posting on YouTube. Visit Ermanno’s website DesertDwellers4.com or his Facebook page Desert Dwellers TV; you’ll learn something new, and you’ll enjoy a good story.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961