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Short Stories
Emergency Aid of Boulder city
by Kathleen Kimball, President

Emergency Aid of Boulder City is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. It is not affiliated with any other government agency. It is dedicated to helping on an emergency basis those citizens of Boulder City who qualify with lodging and one-time rent payments. Travelers stranded in Boulder City may receive food and assistance while continuing on to their destinations. Volunteer workers in the pantry distribute food, while directors evaluate requests for lodging and rent assistance, as well as other services including referrals to other agencies.

Emergency Aid has its roots going back to the years of the construction of Hoover Dam. This was during the Great Depression of the 1930s and desperate people were on the move in search of work. They’d stop off at the Dam and if no work was available they would have to move on. The trip to the Dam was a long one and if people ran out of funds, or their car broke down, they’d ask the various churches for help, often going to all of them for assistance.

Eventually, several of the churches decided to pool their resources together and ask their parishioners to volunteer to help disburse a bit of gas money or a little donated food to these stranded travelers. By the time Boulder City was incorporated in 1960, Emergency Aid of Boulder City was well enough established to assist transients with a small grant from United Way Traveler’s Aid. Also by then, Emergency Aid had begun to distribute food to financially distressed citizens of Boulder City.

Even though Emergency Aid was an established assistance organization, finding permanent quarters was a problem and at one point, the pantry was established in a small shed in Emily Henderson’s back yard. To protect this kind woman’s privacy, the volunteers would to go to her place, pick up food, and deliver it to stranded travelers who were usually waiting at the police station or the library.

Emergency Aid of Boulder City in its present form was chartered in 1966. By the early 1970s, grants were available for the directors to use to extend aid to homeowners and renters in the form of emergency rent and utility assistance in order to prevent evictions. As Boulder City grew and the need for services increased, Emergency Aid arranged to share with Catholic Charities a room at the Boulder City Senior Center so people seeking aid could be interviewed with some dignity.

Emergency Aid eventually outgrew the Senior Center and about 7 years ago the city generously donated space in the former LA Water and Power Building for the food pantry. In 2004 the city allowed the directors to move their offices there as well.

Rents and lodging have always been Emergency Aid’s biggest costs. These expenses increased by 17% and 19% from 2007 to 2008. Most of this increase occurred from October to the end of the year with a 20% increase occurring this past December alone. In December of 2007, pantry food was distributed to 176 households; in December of 2008 it increased to 249 households. In 2008, total expenses were about 23% above those of 2007.

Emergency Aid also works in conjunction with the Elks Lodge in preparing and distributing Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets and operates the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program at the Boulder Dam Credit Union. In 2008, Boulder City Angels provided toys and other items to 445 of our citizens, both young and old, who otherwise would have done without.

The citizens of Boulder City have a long history of supporting Emergency Aid’s efforts in trying to help those under financial stress. Boulder City does not have a significant amount of homeless people, no homeless shelters, and no starving population. There are grim predictions that the next two years will see increasing joblessness and home foreclosures. We can be thankful that with our community’s help, our home-grown and unique safety net will be there to try to assist those caught in the present economic turmoil.

On a personal note, I became involved about 5 years ago because I wanted to give something back to the community I live in. I have found that Emergency Aid is staffed with very dedicated and hard-working volunteers who give many hours a week to this work and who also work well together. We come from different backgrounds but are united in the purpose of trying to help our fellow citizens. If these efforts can keep someone in his home with the electricity working or food on the table, we know it has been time well spent.

Emergency Aid is located at 600 Nevada Highway and provides services 24 hours a day. Walk-in hours are from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekdays. The phone number is (702) 293-0332. A director is always on call through the emergency dispatcher at the Boulder City Police Department at 1005 Arizona Street.

Boulder City Magazine®
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