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AYUDA provides goodness all year long

One need only refer to the biblical story of Joseph and Mary – pregnant with Jesus – to capture the holiday spirit behind AYUDA’s founder and one of its recipients.

Julia Vigil, who receives biweekly food donations from the charity that translated means ” help” in Spanish, peered out her South Lake Tahoe apartment window at the picture of the two bible characters desperately looking for help and refuge from Bethlehem residents after traveling more than 70 miles from their home in Nazareth.

The 83-year-old Vigil – homebound and unable to work – lives alone on a fixed income and barely makes ends meet on the $853 a month in social security payments. She has no family members living nearby, so she reluctantly welcomes the help she receives.



“It’s very hard,” she said, listing rent, out-of-pocket medical expenses and food as just a sampling of staples she pays for with that money.

At least Vigil gets a little help from AYUDA, for which she is grateful.



“I sure do appreciate it. I pray for the help I’ve received,” the New Mexico transplant said of the Sunday deliveries.

The benefit to this needy senior, and the more than 250 others who get the service each month, comes with the territory, AYUDA organizer Ruth Rios-Ibarra said.

Rios-Ibarra, who started the service almost a decade ago out of the back of her Datsun pickup, uses the bible as her guide and Vigil’s story as a reason for continuing the service despite her ailing health.

“My priority? Seniors, homebound people and children,” she said, recalling her upbringing as the daughter of a minister who did similar charity work.

As a young girl, she helped her mother fill bags of food on the kitchen table and accompanied her father during his rounds as he delivered the food to the needy.

“It makes me feel good inside. I think I get more out of it than they receive, but I feel some are better off with the food,” she said.

Some years are better than others, locally and nationally.

With erratic markets and a slowing economy, charity officials across the nation are awaiting the results of this year’s giving public.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said John Shima, development director for Catholic Charities of New York. So far, his organization raised $18 million in the last fiscal year and is on track this year.

“With Raley’s help, it’s been OK this year,” Rios-Ibarra said of the “Y” and Crescent V Fashion Center supermarkets that donate the food she distributes.

Along with produce, baked goods, deli and dairy products, AYUDA also delivers gifts to children that are dropped off at the Tahoe Valley Pharmacy on Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Program volunteers wrap the gifts before they are distributed.

AYUDA, formerly Hispanic Christian Services, is supported by a small income from Rios-Ibarra’s interpreting services during the year.

In previous years, Christmas cards and gifts were handed out to elderly guests of the Tahoe Manor Guest Home.

This year though, only four out of 34 guests have received cards, Tahoe Manor owner and operator Judy Brown pointed out. Many seniors have no contact with family members, she added.

Brown provided a list of guests with their personal information in the hopes of spurring local residents to send donations or cards to the home at 586 Glorene Ave.; South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.

They include:

– Marguerita, who loves animals.

– Winona, with a good sense of humor.

– Gordon, who is outgoing with a resume of jokes.

– Dan, the quiet type.

– Jackie, a cat lover.

– Leota, a prim and proper lady.

– Edith, a fast runner who loves to dance.

– Hannah, who loves Court TV.

– Elsie, who loves sweets.

– Kristen, who loves the “soaps.”

– Anita, who listens to music often.

– Charolette, who’s from Germany.

– Helen, who was a school teacher.

– Virginia, who likes to write.

– Mary, a Mormon who’s a good friend.

– Mildred, the oldest resident at 97.

– Eugene, who sleeps a lot.

– Sam, who loves to gamble.

– Gary, who’s partial to Elvis’ music.

– Louis, an amputee who was a cook in Tahoe for years.

– Bob, who is confined to a wheelchair.

– Leslie, who loves to watch television.

– Lotsey, who likes to write letters.

– Eileen, an avid reader.

– Harriet, who loves music and children.

– La Vergne, who likes to paint-by-number.

– Dick, who was an engineer.

– Joel, who was a playwright.

– Ed, who enjoys a good cigar.

– Lloyd, who’s always looking for work.

– Keith, who loves to garden.

– Budd, who’s quite friendly.

– Benny, who likes to ride the bus.

– Lillian, who loves cats.


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