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Helping each other pay it forward

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor

In Plumas and Lassen counties, people in need are benefiting from members of fraternal groups and other organizations who are joining together in efforts to pay it forward.

Two such groups are the Elks Lodge 2626 of Lake Almanor and Mountain Circle Family Services of Lassen and Plumas counties, as well as a newer location in the Reno area.
Elks members recently traveled to the Greenville office of Mountain Circle to give director Shauna Rossington a $2,000 check, which she accepted gratefully. "Funding is getting cut everywhere," she said, "so everything helps."

The donation will make summer camp possible for many of the kids in foster care she added.

The money was raised during the 2009 Wheel Around Lake Almanor, an annual Elks fundraiser to provide support for those in the community who have been seriously injured or who are gravely ill, and for local agencies that provide needed community services

The list of people who have become regular supporters over the course of the 12-year history of the event has grown to include a Canadian who attended last year and sent a check this year.

The theme of the event this year will be loyalty, an expression of gratitude for many loyal donors who have supported their efforts in so many ways.

People and groups who have been the beneficiaries of much-needed support in the past have come forward to help. The newest beneficiaries are the foster children placed by Mountain Circle Family Services.

Mountain Circle is a community-based organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children and families.

By offering a continuum of services that emphasize the inherent value and strengths of families, it seeks to promote the physical, emotional and educational health of children, improving _outcomes for future generations.

Mountain Circle's goal is to build healthy family relationships for employees, foster families and for foster children with their birth families.

An array of services include therapeutic and supportive services, reunification support, training for foster parents, adoption training in California, treatment teams, routine medical, dental and educational care, a 24-hour emergency system and many other services to help foster parents in their desire to help foster children.

Some of the foster children are transitioning into adulthood, with all the responsibility that entails.

A newer program at Mountain Circle is for those youths, which entails another array of services, such as transitional housing, life skills training, employment help and other services.

Nu 2 U, a thrift shop, opened last fall in Susanville, where there is also transitional housing available for youth ages 19 - 24.

There are currently four youth employed, and they are gaining valuable marketing and retail skills according to Mountain Circle staff members.

Area adults Edie Aperton and Curtis Weight are the store managers, and they are creating an environment that is customer friendly with quality products and prices.

The store's mission is to employ foster youth and to use the revenue generated to enhance and support the transitional housing program for these youth.

The state cut funding for the transitional program, so the goal is for the shop to sustain it, and volunteers are always welcome to come and help support their mission.

The Nu 2 U Thrift Shop at 732 Main St. in Susanville, is open Mondays - Saturdays, from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

WALA history

The Wheels Around Lake Almanor idea was conceived in summer 1998, when Lake Almanor Elks member Dave Henise and his wife, Suzie, were enjoying dinner with good friends and wheelchair athlete Randy Fossum and his wife, Diane.

Suzie asked Randy if he ever considered pushing his racing wheelchair around Lake Almanor. He agreed to give it a try.

With support from Dave and Diane, Suzie rode her bicycle and Randy pushed his racing chair over the 34-mile course around the lake in just over three hours.

For their efforts Dave made a $34 donation ($1 for each mile of the ride) to the Elks scholarship fund, and WALA was born.

The next year, Randy invited two more wheelchair athletes to join him, and the Henises started a pledge drive to raise additional funds.

As the years went by the number of participating athletes increased, including several national and world champions, the donations grew each year and the number of people WALA has assisted continues to rise.

To date, WALA has raised more than $100,000 and has provided support for numerous individuals and families in need.

WALA has also purchased a wheelchair for the Chester library, helped fund an adult literacy program, an after-school study program, Sierra Hospice, Seneca Healthcare District long-term care facility and the Almanor Basin Community Center.

Donations may be sent to Wheel Around Lake Almanor, c/o Lake Almanor Elks Lodge 2626, P.O. Box 1329, Chester CA 96020.

More on Mountain Circle

Families and youth who are interested in the foster care program or who wish to be part of the rewarding transitional program, are encouraged to contact one of the following offices:

Administration: 312 Crescent Street, Greenville, CA 95947; 284-7007;

Susanville: 30 S. Mesa St., Susanville, CA 96130; 257-7407;

Portola: 108 W. Sierra St., Portola, CA 96122; 832-9683:

Reno: 4600 Kietzke Lane, B-112 Reno, NV 89502; (775) 825-9995:

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