By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Operation Provider has been serving the mountain communities for 34 years. Holland Lowe, Operation Provider’s director, continues to stay focused on her calling of feeding the hungry and helping those in need. Her first objective is helping children. She feels she received this calling when she was told of a family in need 34 years ago.
Lowe went to go deliver some food to a family after the 8-year-old had called for help. When she got there, the mother was very sick. There were three hungry children and, when she opened the refrigerator, there was only a bottle of water in it, which made her cry, so she bought even more food for them.
“These are my people,” was Lowe’s thought. “They live in Agra Fria and they are hungry in my neighborhood. I must help.”
And so, she has been on this mission for the past 34 years. “This mission is so close to my heart,” Lowe said. “If I can make even a little bit of difference in a child’s or family’s life, this will all be worth it. There are also many seniors who need help up here.”
Operation Provider offers food assistance twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. from their location centrally located in Rimforest. They hand out fresh food and bread and boxed and canned staples. On Thursdays, they also offer clothing to keep warm and more for all ages.
Lowe’s 20 volunteers help her year-round at their office at 26525 Pine Ave. in Rimforest. They are 100 percent volunteer driven, including Lowe herself. Call them in advance at (909) 337-8585 when weather is poor to be sure they are able open that day.
Recently, during the blizzard and in its aftermath, they were forced to be closed for several days due to tree limbs blocking the entrance to the building. Through generosity and hard work, they are reopened and are now ready to help those who need it.
Most importantly, this year they are offering significant help with utility bills, seeing people they haven’t seen before who suddenly and unexpectedly need assistance to pay their bills. This sudden increase in gas bills and the need for electricity with the freezing temperatures have put many on fixed incomes in a severe financial bind.
“We will be able to assist families with their utilities if they qualify. If you’re 55 years of age and older, we are able to provide $500 on your Southern California Gas bill and $200 on the Edison bill,” said Lowe. Those under 55 years old may qualify for $400 on their Southern California Gas bill and $200 on the Edison bill.
Folks in need of assistance with their utility bills should call (909) 337-8585 to make an appointment. Operation Provider may be able to help pay a portion of the bill. This winter is not the time to have utilities turned off, Lowe noted, as freezing weather is a matter of life and death.
Lowe anticipates the utility grant funding will last for another month or so. “There are so many now in need for this, after this huge hike in rates, since so many were out of work due to the blizzard and others due to the resulting closures, and I want to help all those who need it. Do not go hungry because of this rate hike and storm,” she said.
Operation Provider felt the changes caused by the pandemic. They depend greatly on donations and fundraisers, which have not been able to be held in the past couple of years, but they have continued to serve their clientele. With the current increase in the cost of living and the downturn in the economy, some of their regular donations have also dropped off, so they have tightened their overhead costs, but they are still in business for their clients.
They accept cash and other donations from the public to help pay the overhead costs to keep the doors open to help others. Lowe has refrigerators and freezers to keep the food fresh. She has to pay rent and Internet costs monthly.
Donations can be made on their website, operationprovider.org.
“I have wonderful volunteers and partners here at Operation Provider, including Feeding America, the local Rotary clubs and local markets and businesses. Somehow God has provided all these years, and I hope I can continue to benefit our residents in need for years to come.
“I invite all to visit our web site to see our past history, see our mission and programs and our plans for the future. If anyone is in need, please contact us, and allow us to assist you,” Lowe concluded.
(Photo by Rhea-Frances Tetley)
Holland Lowe and some of her volunteers at Operation Provider in Rimforest.