Grassroots Group Steps Up During Disaster Aftermath

S.B. Support Network Offers Immediate Assistance

S.B. Support Network founders, from left: Jennifer Harris, Holly Parker, Linda Meyer, Laura Zoltan, Anna Stump, and Tara Haaland-Ford. Not pictured: Treasurer Cara Chiarappa.

Caitlin Fitch

S.B. Support Network founders, from left: Jennifer Harris, Holly Parker, Linda Meyer, Laura Zoltan, Anna Stump, and Tara Haaland-Ford. Not pictured: Treasurer Cara Chiarappa.

In the aftermath of the early-morning flooding and mudslides of January 9, six moms (with 15 kids between them) banded together to help Montecito families impacted by the natural disaster. While long-term help ​— ​such as unemployment benefits and FEMA-backed assistance ​— ​takes time to materialize, immediate needs often get overlooked. These moms set out to change that.

Launching on January 9, they dubbed themselves the S.B. Support Network and focused on helping evacuated families struggling day-to-day with post-flood realities big and small, from housing and transportation to clean clothes and hot meals. Any impacted individual or family can sign up anonymously with the support network, where their lists of needs are viewed and filled by participating donors, many of whom also prefer to remain unnamed. One family of four, for example, received grocery-store gift cards to help offset food costs while living in a hotel. For another family, which lost nearly everything, including loved ones, the support network covered three months’ rent. They have also helped a landscaping business get back to work by replacing tools swept away by the flood. Another anonymous donation enabled a family to buy a new vehicle at wholesale price.

Since January 19, S.B. Support Network has operated under the nonprofit umbrella of the SBCC Foundation, which allows donations to be tax deductible. The group has no administrative fees or overhead of any kind, said cofounder Jennifer Harris. “One hundred percent of our donations go straight to families.” So far the group has helped 125 individuals in more than 40 families.

“One of the reasons we have been successful is that we are not frantic,” Harris added. “There have been a lot of people wanting to help who haven’t had the ability to organize effectively and to remain steadfast and strong with a clear vision and mission. We are not a general fund; we are directly in touch with these families. We have been selected by the most reputable of donors because they know that the funds donated go directly to the families now, [not] weeks down the line.”

4·1·1

To contact S.B. Support Network, email intake coordinator Tara Haaland-Ford at haalandford@gmail.com.

To donate to S.B. Support Network, visit this link. Please make sure to type “S.B. Support Network” under “specific instructions.” Thank you in advance for your consideration.

S.B. Support Network on SignUpGenius (new families added regularly)

S.B. Support Network Facebook Page

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus