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3 Ways That YOU Can Make a Difference In the High Desert Today

Glass HeartThe High Desert is an amazing landscape filled with natural beauty, plentiful resources and caring citizens. While outsiders may not immediately grasp the desert’s allure, those of us who live here are well-acquainted with its distinct and attractive personality. Yet, despite all of the wonder that the Mojave has to offer, it is not without its areas in need of attention and improvement. I don’t mean areas strictly in terms of neighborhoods and zip codes either as individual members of our communities are in need of support and enlightenment too, which is why I’m so pleased to show you how we can all make a difference through three very worthwhile organizations representing faith, hope and love, today.

Faith Rainbow by xandert morgueFile1. FAITH

A strong vision has taken root in the Town of Apple Valley and its organizers place diligent faith in bringing it to pass. Perhaps you’ve seen the dilapidated abandoned house sitting alone on the top of Bass Hill just off of Highway 18 and have wondered about its history. You may have even longed to take a closer look like Daniel Harley can be seen doing in the video below. Regardless of your initial thoughts after recognizing the behemoth peering down upon the highway, you’ve undoubtedly also wondered about what will become of it in the future.

Well, a grass roots group has plans to reclaim Bass Hill in order to restore it to the heartbeat of the town that it once was. The Apple Valley Legacy Trail (AVLT) Endowment Fund aims to cultivate a hiking trail leading up to the property, which will include picnic areas and educational tours. Visitors may navigate the trail by foot or by horseback while enjoying the natural plant and wildlife along the way. The house itself will act as an observation deck, as it offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the desert. It will also feature historic memorabilia recounting the rich story of the Town of Apple Valley.

You can help make a difference by assisting the AVLT Endowment Fund via donation or volunteering in a myriad of other ways detailed on the group’s website. Always remember that faith requires action and yours is both welcomed and needed in order to bring this worthwhile vision to life.

Daniel Harley’s Hilltop House Video Courtesy of YouTube (MojaveDan)

Message Stones2. HOPE

In situations of family strife, hope often appears to be lost. In its absence depression, suicide and a variety of other social ills tend to prevail. When people come together to restore hope, however, they deserve to be both recognized and supported in their efforts. This is why I found it such a pleasure for the High Desert Bloggers to be situated right next to the Family Assistance Program at the RelyLocal Expo during the San Bernardino County Fair last weekend.

The Family Assistance Program exists to help individuals and families address a host of pressing issues such as domestic violence, housing threats, homelessness and others which often tear families apart while leaving individual members feeling lost, hurt and angry. The following is a sampling of the services that they provide under the main organization:

Domestic Violence Assistance

  • 24 Hour Hotline
  • Shelter and Transitional Housing Assistance
  • Support Groups and Counseling
  • Restraining Order Clinics
  • Bilingual Court Support
  • Teen Dating Classes
  • Art Classes Promoting Healing and Empowerment

Family Assistance Services

  • Counseling (individual and conjoint are both available)
  • Anger Management Classes
  • Parenting Classes
  • Supervised Visitation

As funds permit, the agency also offers rent and utility assistance to members of the community in need.

Special Services For Homeless Youth

This particular community based organization is also the first to open a shelter for homeless and runaway teens in San Bernardino county. Known as Our House, the shelter is located in Redlands and offers a safe harbor to young people between the ages of 11 and 17 years old who have runaway from home or who are homeless due to other circumstances. The primary goal of the shelter is to see families be restored whenever possible through supportive services beyond shelter which include counseling, goal-oriented workshops and case management.

LGBTQ Outreach Services

Another very worthwhile effort under the Family Assistance Program umbrella is the Giving Resources, Outreach, and Wellness Education (GROWE) Program which exists to increase awareness about the needs and challenges of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) community here in the HD. As teens who live outside of society’s established sexual norms often experience higher than average rates of depression, violence, bullying, substance abuse, homelessness and isolation, the GROWE program works to prevent all of these by providing resources and education to teens, their families and the community-at-large.

With boots on the ground and in the midst of some of the most dire circumstances families and individuals can face, the Family Assistance Program is a champion of hope. By offering resources, education and support, the agency tackles tough issues with optimism and strength. Volunteers and donations (monetary and in-kind) are always needed there, so if you believe that hope really can lead to change, please visit the Family Assistance Program’s website to learn how you can join forces with them to help it happen.

Loves Saves Lives by Kokabella at morgueFile3. LOVE

It takes a special individual to be so selfless as to open one’s home to children who are underprivileged and at-risk. Yet, this is precisely what Julie Wilson does through her Wagon Wheel Ranch Foundation. For several years now, Julie and her staff of volunteers have offered camping and a host of fun and educational events on her multi-acre ranch located in Hesperia.

The Wagon Wheel Ranch Foundation allows children to connect with nature through activities which include hiking, caring for animals and horseback riding. Other events and activities include western-themed barbecues, various arts and crafts, talent shows, roping lessons and horse shoe competitions. The foundation is also very well known for its annual Easter programs, which offer Bible-based activities and education in a naturally beautiful setting.

As the Wagon Wheel Ranch Foundation’s leader, Julie Wilson has managed to press through her own string of adversities in order to keep children in need as her first priority. In fact, during recent consecutive years Julie endured the loss of her mother, watching her husband suffer in the hospital following an horrific accident, her husband’s death, major structural damage at the ranch and a host of other trials that would have caused someone of a weaker spirit to give in. Yet, Julie persevered and, though she is still recovering financially and emotionally, her determination in seeing the ranch thrive in order that children in trouble may have a place of refuge fuels her on. This sort of sacrifice, dear readers, is true love in action.

To help keep the Wagon Wheel Ranch Foundation as a beacon of light for children in the High Desert, visit their website for information on volunteering, making a donation or becoming a sponsor. Specifically, the ranch is in need of people who can swing a hammer and who aren’t afraid of a little hard labor, as well as those who love to work with animals. As a non-profit organization, all monetary contributions are also tax-deductible.

A Little Bit of Faith, Hope and Love Can Make a Big Difference In the High Desert

I met leaders and representatives from each one of these groups while at the RelyLocal Expo discussed in my last post. Truly, it was a pleasure getting to know what each one stood for. An equal pleasure was had in preparing this post in order to urge everyone to invest in the faith, hope and love each one of these groups is infusing into the High Desert. While we’re all spread out across different cities, I believe that we are all a part of one very powerful community and together we can accomplish much.

Your Turn

The comments section is now all yours. Tell us, how will you choose to make a difference in your community today?

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1 Comment

  1. June 7, 2013    

    Terrific article, Laura. I know of so many nonprofits that focus on helping children, families and troubled youth. Just because we live in the high desert doesn’t mean we have not developed our resources to help those in need. Another group that I support is the Happy Trails Foundation that raises funds for abused teens in the Cooper Home. I’ll share more about this later.

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  1. Spent the Day on “RelyLocal Row” at the Fair and Look Who We Met! | High Desert Blogging on May 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm

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