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People Helping People assistance programs.

There are a few focuses of the Santa Barbara County based People Helping People. A food bank is used to feed the hungry, and the Emergency services can provide everything from rental assistance to funds for utility or water bills. They also run a  Domestic and Child Abuse Prevention Program, arrange dental care and counseling.

Volunteers dedicate thousands of hours to run the weekly food distribution at Mission Santa Ines in Solvang as well as St. Anthony’s Church in Los Alamos. There are hundreds of families that get help every single month, including many children and seniors.

The food pantry is run in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Food bank. PHP purchases a portion of the items, or some groceries or meals or donated to it. Another partner is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

To apply for free food, the family will need to meet income targets in relation to federal poverty level guidelines, as established by the USDA. They will also factor in family size to determine how much food goes to each Santa Barbara household.

PHP can also help people apply for CalFresh, which is food stamps. The US Department of Agriculture provides this nationwide. It will assist low income and working poor residents with obtaining milk, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, lean protein, and other healthy foods for themselves and their families.

For those that enroll, People Helping People will issue them a debit card that enables participants to purchase groceries. Dollar amounts provided to each client may be $200 or more per month. The exact amount is based on income level, family size and expenses. Help with the application process and appealing a denial is available through PHP, eliminating the need to visit the Department of Social Services.

PHP's Emergency Financial Aid Program assists low-income families and individuals with preventing eviction and utility shut-off. There may be grants issued for rent or mortgages to avoid homelessness. Other financial aid can pay for food.





Services are provided according what caused the financial crisis, to financial need, and whether or not the individual or family has the ability to keep up with future payments on their bills or rent on their own. In some cases, a client will be issued a loan.

To apply, a successful drug test is mandatory for all applicants, and this assistance is generally available on a one-time-only basis only. The People Helping People program provides the following services to those who qualify:
-Funds for Rent or Emergency Mortgage Payments, Hotel Vouchers, or Temporary Shelter.
-Utility Payments, including Water or Electricity.
-PHP can pay for Food and/or Prepared Meals.
-Transportation, including Gasoline Vouchers.
-Household Goods or Clothing for Work.
-Mobile Home Repairs in Santa Barbara. This is only issued in situations of emergency or lack of safety.

There are several Family Resource centers in Santa Barbara, including at Olga Reed School, Los Alamos, Jonata School, Santa Ynez School, Santa Ynez High School, and Solvang. This is where case management and applications are taken. There is the purpose of managing and eliminating barriers standing between clients and the help they need. The neighborhood locations in the county make it easy for clients to access PHP services and also be linked to services provided by other local charities or community service agencies.

ADCAP - Advocates for Domestic and Child Abuse Prevention Program is the sole domestic violence intervention/prevention program in the Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys California region. The service is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The service uses volunteers, who have completed extensive classroom and on-the-job training.

Advocates from PHP are trained and certified to provide immediate support and comfort at scenes of domestic violence, in response to calls from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office. Additional, short-term help for survivors of domestic violence may include medical attention, hotel vouchers and emergency shelter.




In the longer term, Advocates for Domestic and Child Abuse (ADCAP) provides links to PHP’s other direct emergency services programs that assist with basic needs, such as rental assistance or food. Hey also offer guidance in successfully navigating the criminal justice system; access to services offered through the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Program; and group and individual counseling for adults and children.

The non-profit's outreach staff works continuously to identify uninsured or underinsured Santa Barbara County residents. The non-profit will assist them with the enrollment process for various State-sponsored dental or medical health insurance programs. There may be applications for MediCal, prescription discounts and Healthy Families/Healthy Kids. Income-eligibility standards for these programs are established by the State of California and vary according to family size.

There are resources to address dental disease. To address this issue, which is the greatest unmet health need in the state, local Santa Barbara County dentists provide treatments each year at their own time and expense. However, some families will need to pay a small fee according to a predetermined pricing schedule that is based on average insurance reimbursement rates and their income.

Another program is the Children's Dental Fund, which helps children from Santa Barbara County families whose income is 250 percent of the federal poverty standard or below. People Helping People is a key partner in this, and they screen for income eligibility, schedule appointments, and refer patients to local participating hospitals or dentists. When bills are due, the amount may be divided into 12 installments in an amount determined on a sliding scale that is based on income. If these resources do not work, then find other free dental clinics in California.

Mentoring is arranged for at-risk students at Refugio and Santa Ynez High Schools. Mentors from PHP will review their grades and credits on a regular basis as well as monitor the students as they make progress towards graduation. The program also offers role modeling, career guidance, homework assistance, coaching, food for the weekend and access to PHP support services.





The PHP Wellness and Counseling Program offers counseling for couples, individuals and families. There is also support for students and children from the school-based counseling. Staff members as well as teachers provide support and assistance as the clients work to reach mutually agreed-upon goals that are created with the individual needs in mind.

People Helping People may be able to help people increase a sense of positive self-worth and sense of self for both children and adults, gain a better understanding of child development, positive parenting skills and available community resources; and it can result in an increased healthy communication and satisfaction in family and social relationships. The end result is often an improved quality of life for individuals, couples and families.

Thanksgiving and Christmas help is available from the PHP Fulfill-A-Wish Program. This is the resource that offers free holiday toys, gifts, clothing, and meals for the area’s most needy families, which include children or the elderly.

In order to avoid duplication for this holiday program, People Helping People partners with non-profits such as the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program, and is the distribution center for gifts donated and collected in the valley. Donated toys, items and presents that are purchased using generous monetary contributions are displayed in the People Helping People holiday boutique, which is in operation in a donated retail space prior to Christmas.

Participating families for Fulfill-A-Wish are selected according to economic need. Parents with children in Santa Barbara County often take priority. They are given the opportunity to select items based upon the size and needs of their family members. This service is set up and operated in a way that we hope allows the organization to empower parents as well as maintain the dignity of families as much as possible. Staff members from PHP assemble donations and also supervise program volunteers as they  operate the holiday store.

Locations of People Helping People Family Resource Centers

  • Jonata School is at 310 Second Street, Buellton, California 93427, dial 805-688-4222
  • 545 N. Alisal Road, Ste. 102, Solvang, California 93463. Phone – 805-686-0295.
  • Santa Ynez Family Resource Center is at 3325 Pine St., Room 25, dial 805-686-7356
  • Olga Reed Elementary School Campus - 480 Centennial Street, Room 2, Los Alamos, California 93441.



By Jon McNamara











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