Tahoe Helping Hands Inc., a nonprofit organization focusing primarily on women who have been diagnosed with or disabled by a terminal or long-term illness, offers retreats at a facility located one block from the crystal clear, blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
The retreats provide seminars, workshops and networking opportunities to these women, their primary caregiver and their dogs.
“Families leave the facility with improved emotional and mental health, the realization that there are others just like them, the tools necessary to face the daily challenges of debilitating diseases and a renewed hope that heaven can wait,” said Lori Zoval, executive development director and CFO of the organization, which has a new office in Oceanside.
The Carlsbad Business Journal sat down with Zoval to discuss Tahoe Helping Hands in more detail and the impact it has on the individuals it serves.
CBJ: When was the organization founded and what was the inspiration behind it?
Zoval: Our founding director, Holly Eimer, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989. It has been her vision for more than 20 years to establish an amazing facility so people with “invisible” diseases like her will receive the help they need. Eimer's vision became a reality this year when Tahoe Helping Hands Inc. was founded and she established our retreat facility in Lake Tahoe called Holly's Place.
CBJ: What is the organization's goal?
Zoval: Through speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, we provide our guests with the tools necessary to get through one of the most difficult times of their lives. Once diagnosed, many women become consumed with the threat to their life. At our retreats, we give them a break. Through our retreats, our guests realize that tending to the emotional and mental effects of these diseases is as important as the medical care they receive. Our goal is to help as many of these individuals as possible so they have a better chance at a full recovery.
CBJ: Who oversees the organization?
Zoval: Our board of directors and lead staff is made up of highly educated and experienced individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. Each of these individuals has been affected at one point in their life by an “invisible” terminal or long-term illness.
CBJ: How many people has the organization helped since it was established?
Zoval: Hundreds of women, men and dogs have been touched by the magic of Holly's Place. Its unique ambiance, the safety of the fully-enclosed 2.8 acres and the comfort of the eight beautiful units safely secured behind gates has allowed us to bring individuals in to get the support and help they need.
CBJ: What do you see for the future of the organization?
Zoval: Tahoe Helping Hands recently hosted the Lake Tahoe Music Festival. Eight musicians from all over the western United States played to raise money for our organization. A CD is being produced that will be available in music stores across the country to raise money for those who are in desperate need of our services. We also have a fundraiser Feb. 6 at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad. Many fantastic items, such as artwork, vacation packages and a motorcycle, will be available for auction. The proceeds will go to the people we serve and to expand our facility to accommodate more individuals.
CBJ: How do you measure success?
Zoval: Tahoe Helping Hands recently expanded to the southern California area with a new office in Oceanside. We also have our on-site office at our facility in Lake Tahoe and our San Francisco office is doing great. The recent development of our volunteer task force has allowed us to expand into the Dallas, Texas area and Phoenix, Ariz. These expansions make it easier for people all over the United States to be brought to our retreat facility. We even have families coming in from London. We are so excited to see this growth, which means several things to our organization. People who cannot afford to come to our facility will now have the opportunity to receive the help they need through donations. We also will be able to expand our retreat to accommodate more women. This expansion is an indication of the need for these types of services. So many women and families have been affected by these diseases; we only wish the success that has been achieved by the individuals leaving our retreats could be shared with all of the 4 million women who will be diagnosed this year alone with a terminal or long-term illness.
CBJ: What needs does Tahoe Helping Hands have?
Zoval: We have many people who are not able to attend our retreats due to the financial drain of their medical expenses. Through corporate and private donations, we are able to supplement the cost of our retreat facility and the help it offers. These donations cover only the cost to maintain the facility and its services.
CBJ: How can people get involved?
Zoval: We are looking to recruit people interested in setting up a volunteer task force in their community. The task force members are responsible for arranging fundraising events in their area, connecting individuals in need of our services with our staff and carrying out our vision.
CBJ: What is unique about Tahoe Helping Hands?
Zoval: We are unique in our setting, the personal experience of our staff, the safe surroundings our facility provides and the fact that we recognize the importance our dogs play in our lives. We also are unique in that we provide workshops and group support to the primary caregiver, who also are affected by these diseases. They need an opportunity to share, vent and get the same type of support being offered to the diagnosed individual, but in an environment where they are surrounded by others facing the same challenges.
Tahoe Helping Hands Inc.
765 Harbor Cliff Way,
Suite 127, Oceanside
(760) 231-7724