Plant a Seed in the Community
Photo by Luke George Photography
A city thrives because of its people.
Each of us has a vested interest in our collective community growing and thriving, and the best way to help our community is by simply getting involved. There are many charities and service organizations within Benicia that directly support Benicians so that the community at large may thrive.
Many of these organizations are long-standing, or local chapters of a larger entity, and some are grassroots, hyper-local organizations. But each one was started by an individual or group of individuals who saw a need – an underrepresented demographic or some other cause unmet by government institutions. These individuals are like gardeners in our community; planting the seed of an idea and nourishing it until it grows deep roots that touch the lives of many, uplifting the community as a whole. Such individuals include Tim and Jeannie Hamann (Tim and Jeannie Hamann Foundation), George Hyland and Barbara Gervase (Kyle Hyland Teen Center), and Natalie Kidder (Another Chapter), among many others.
There are others who make it their business to help these seedlings sprout and thrive.
These take the form of volunteers, board members, and the like. One such dedicated individual is Mike Caplan, who has served numerous community-centered organizations including chairing the Human Services Board, serving as president of the Benicia Historical Society and the Benicia Historical Museum, and currently serving as president of Benicia Community Action Council and Benicia Main Street. His involvement in community service is hard to match.
Lynn Parella, owner of The Chill wine bar, is another. She supports the community in her own way, by using her business to host bi-monthly Bingo nights, the proceeds of which go to various charities. She also supports the Hamann Foundation with her Uncork the Hope fundraiser. Penny Stell, another community activist, is well-known for her fundraising abilities and participation in organizations like Soroptimist International of Benicia, Benicia Economic Development Board, Benicia Library Foundation Board, and serving as Board President of Benicia Historical Museum. Yet another example of community involvement is the small group of neighbors, led by Doris Gates, who banded together during last winter’s storms to clean up the heaps of trash that got washed onto our shores.
There is no single “right” way to go about it.
Getting involved in the community allows you to plant your own seed, establish roots, and grow along with the effort. Below is a non-exhaustive list of organizations in Benicia you might consider getting involved with. See a need that these organizations don’t address? Consider starting your own initiative!
Broad Charity or Community Support
- Benicia Community Foundation is a broad philanthropic institution that helps raise money for various local charities and community improvement projects.
- Benicia’s Lions Club focuses on projects to improve the Benicia community.
Poverty and Education
- Another Chapter is an organization dedicated to promoting literacy in Solano County by providing books to individuals and families in need.
- Benicia’s Community Action Council is a nonprofit that connects economically disadvantaged citizens with services and resources.
- Soroptimist International of Benicia provides women and girls with access to education and training to achieve economic empowerment.
- The Benicia Tree Foundation supports the community through the promotion of tree planting, maintenance, and education.
- Benicia Litter Pickers is an organization dedicated to cleaning up trash around the city and providing free resources for others to help the cause.
- The Benicia Holy Ghost Society, or B.D.E.S., is a nonprofit that, on its annual Holy Ghost Festa, provides free meals to roughly 1,000 people.
- St. Paul’s Episcopal provides a free community meal on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the year.
- Food is Free Bay Area (formerly Food is Free Solano) combats food insecurity with local programs.
- The Kyle Hyland Foundation was established as a resource for local teens, offering mental health programs and other services.
- The Kiwanis Club focuses on serving the needs of children in the community.
- Benicia Family Resource Center focuses on providing information and referral services to families and children.
- Carquinez Village provides services, activities, and programs to Benicia’s senior citizens.
- Meals on Wheels Solano provides meals and socialization to homebound senior citizens in the county.
Other niche interests
- The Tim and Jeannie Hamann Foundation was established to provide support to cancer patients and their families.
- Benicia Performing Arts Foundation helps promote performing arts and education within the community, especially to youth.
- Benicia Main Street is a nonprofit focused on preserving Benicia’s historic downtown and promoting economic prosperity through small business development and support.
- Benicia Historical Society works to preserve the history of Benicia and California.
- Benicia Historical Museum works to engage and educate the public about the evolving history of Benicia.