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A Gift of GRACE

I consider myself lucky to have grown up in Tuolumne County in a stable environment with loving parents, three older brothers who looked out for me, and a small town atmosphere that was hard to beat. Sure, there were bumps along the path but our family always found a way to make things work out.

While my luck has continued over time, I started to understand early on that it wasn’t that way for all families – sometimes there were situations that just seemed to get in the way and make life more challenging. Certainly, since the onset of the Great Recession, we have witnessed those kinds of difficulties accrue for many of our friends and neighbors.

Two years ago, the Sonora Area Foundation teamed up with a local donor with a vision to make a difference for those individuals and families – to help them get past their unmet needs. The result was the formation of the Tuolumne County GRACE Fund, a donor fund held by the Foundation. In this case, GRACE stands for Giving Respect And Caring Encouragement.

Implementation of the program is through the Sonora office of Catholic Charities of the Mother Lode. An advisory panel of social service providers meets quarterly with the Catholic Charities staff to review the status of the project, discuss any adjustments that may need to be made to program criteria, and how to insure that funds are directed to those with truly unmet needs that cannot be addressed by another agency.

The program has proven to be very successful. In the past two years, over $125,000 of assistance has been provided to local individuals and families to help them rise up, not as a hand out. The type of assistance is quite varied, including housing assistance and home repairs; transportation and vehicle repairs; medical needs, utilities and relocation expenses. There are limits to the amount that can be provided in a year and for some types of assistance.

For so many, the GRACE Fund has made the difference that our original donor was looking for. Assistance from the fund has allowed them move past the immediate need that was holding them back. For them, life is no longer getting in the way; it is being lived once again.

The Tuolumne County GRACE Fund has been fortunate to have additional donors look to make a difference, just as our original donor did. Through this blog space, I am asking you to make
A Gift of GRACE this holiday season. It may be because you know someone that was assisted by the program, or you need that end of the year tax deduction, or your heart says it is what you want to do to give back in your community.

Making a gift to the Sonora Area Foundation is easy – make sure your check says “GRACE Fund” on the memo line. Or you can give on line through our website at

The Tuolumne County GRACE Fund has made a difference in the lives of many of our friends and neighbors. It is a fund that deserves your support during this holiday season. I know it will have mine.