One of the defining characteristics of a community is how its people, organizations and institutions unite to help one another in times of crisis. Lake Tahoe is the epitome of this type of community.
Siobhan Keller, Nursing Supervisor - Surgery and Julia Wilvers, RN
Halie Davis, RN
Rachel Sartain, Ultrasound
As residents of a small mountain town, we count on each other to come together for the common good
when facing challenges presented by natural disasters like epic blizzards, avalanches and raging wildfires.
Now we can add a worldwide pandemic to the list of challenges.
In March of 2020, the Barton Foundation launched the first public assistance fund — the COVID-19 Response Fund — in the region. Aimed at providing flexible and discretionary resources to community members facing financial hardships from impacts of the pandemic, the fund was initially formed to benefit frontline health care workers, first responders, and to assist patients isolating at home.
As the crisis intensified last spring, it quickly became apparent that the COVID-19 Response Fund would need to adapt to fill two very important community needs: food insecurity and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“The COVID-19 Response Fund was intentionally designed to provide maximum flexibility to those in
need,” said Chris Kiser, Executive Director of the Barton Foundation. “When we launched the fund, we
were not entirely sure where the need would be. We just knew the community needed our help.”
Lake Tahoe, like many communities in the United States, suffered food insecurity problems caused
by mounting job losses due to shutdowns of restaurants, hotels, retail stores and other service sector businesses. The need for personal protective equipment in the early months of the pandemic was a direct result of manufacturers’ inability to keep up with the sudden demand for these items.
Jenny Taylor of the Barton Foundation and Angela Moore, Foundation Board of Trustees Chair
Russ Norda and Richard Panuschka making masks
Mary Hunt of Mary’s Alterations hard at work
Tanya Sanders, Bianca Preciado-Medina, and Tawny Liddell, Labor and Delivery
Bolts of Fabric for community created masks
Cathy Huffman hard at work
Matt Mullen, RN - Community Health Center
Dan Witt, Medical Imaging (CT Tech)
To support the hospital in its goal of ensuring these items were available to healthcare workers, the Barton Foundation initiated a Tahoe-wide donation effort, where community members donated hundreds of pounds of these much needed supplies.
The Barton Foundation reached out to over 300 community members who collectively sewed an astounding 10,000 cloth masks. The masks were immediately used by Barton healthcare workers in the early weeks of the pandemic while guidelines were still evolving, provided to patients who
arrived for appointments without face coverings, as well as by numerous local non-profit organizations.
In addition to handsewn masks, technologically savvy volunteers also designed and produced over 1,200 3-D printed face shields!
“The number of masks and face shields that were donated to us was overwhelming. In a time of many
unknowns, it felt great to actually be doing something to help the community,” said Angela Moore,
Chair of the Barton Foundation Board of Trustees. “It was gratifying to see homemakers, engineers, Boy Scouts — people from all walks of life — unite in an effort to help our health care workers and essential community members.”
Moore, a retired longtime nurse at Barton Health who worked tirelessly on the effort, also added: “We initially thought this would be a small project, but as the demand for cloth masks continued to increase, the scope of the project grew exponentially.”
The Barton Foundation’s fundraising efforts, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors, allowed
the COVID-19 Response Fund to administer grants to community members suffering from food
insecurity. As of March 2021, more than 2,000 individuals and families had received over $325,000 in food cards, which had an immediate impact on those in need.
“We are working closely with Safeway and have been able to purchase food cards in various increments,” said Jenny Taylor of the Barton Foundation, who coordinates the project. “Families and individuals filled out a very simple one-page grant application form, and members of the Foundation Board of Trustees reviewed the applications and decided how much funding each applicant would receive. We have awarded up to $500 in food cards to each family. Now we are partnering with The Attic, Bread & Broth and other community nonprofits to get cards into the hands of those who need it most without requiring an application.”
This grassroots effort aimed at feeding local families was funded by robust contributions from hundreds of Barton Foundation donors. “Without the ongoing generosity of our donors, who once again answered the call to assist our community in a time of need, we would not have been able
to address the severe food insecurity issue in South Lake Tahoe,” Kiser said. “This effort, which is still ongoing, was particularly important given that grant applications increased dramatically over the holiday season.”
The Barton Foundation also launched a community-wide food drive, which resulted in several large truckloads of food donations to Christmas Cheer All Year, a local food bank that was experiencing low inventory due to the high demand for food.
Theresa Echevarria, RN - PACU and Sarah Nerdahl, RN - PACU
Melissa Conners, NA, Med-Surg/Ortho
Chris Kiser receiving donation from Rotary Club
Mary Ebright, RN - GI Lab
PPE and critical supplied donated directly to Barton
Keith and Linda Cloutier of Rudy’s Plumbing donating 3D printed face shields
Donations of PPE from the LTVA
3D printed face shields
“As an organization, it has been extremely rewarding to focus on the needs of the community during the pandemic,” Moore said. “Knowing that the Barton Foundation has made a significant impact on the food insecurity issue in our community, as well as providing thousands of handmade masks and face shields, along with all the other donated personal protective equipment we received, it really is quite
overwhelming when you think about the generosity of this community.”
If you would like to assist the Barton Foundation in our effort to provide food to area families, please contact Chris Kiser at 530-543-5612 for additional information on the COVID-19 Response Fund.
Bags of fabric ready for distribution
Message for the health care workers