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$7,200 donation from Women of Woodbridge
homeless students copy
Manteca Unified Health Services Coordinator Leslie Agostini, right, accepts a $7,200 check from Marybeth Saari of Women of Woodbridge Tuesday night at a meeting of the Manteca Unified Board of Education. The money will be used to help fund the districts homeless student outreach program. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Women of Woodbridge want to make a difference in the lives of students that need the most help.
And on Tuesday, when Marybeth Saari of the Del Webb women’s group presented the Manteca Unified School District Health Services Department with a check for $7,200 to aid the district’s ongoing homeless student outreach programs, the group quite literally put its money where its mouth is.
According to Saari, the decision to support Manteca Unified’s homeless student outreach with the proceeds of the group’s annual two-day tea event was made several years ago when it came to the attention of the women that the number of students who don’t have a permanent home was larger than what many had realized.
With community involvement being one of the missions of the group – which holds several fundraiser events throughout the year and supports other community non-profits and organizations through those events as well – it seemed like a natural fit to offer something to those who need it more than most.
“It’s important to us to be able to give back to the community and to get involved, and we learned that the school district had a lot of needs and this was one that was ongoing,” Saari said. “So, we wanted to make our support ongoing as well, and each year we’ve been able to raise a little bit more each time.”
The district has more than 600 students that are considered homeless based on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act that defines homelessness as lacking a fixed, regular, adequate night-time residence and includes students living in the following situations:
Sharing housing with family/friends due to loss of housing or economic hardship.
Emergency or transitional shelters such as domestic violence or homeless shelters.
Transitional housing.
Motels or hotels.
Campgrounds and inadequate trailer homes.
Cars, abandoned buildings, parks, the streets or public places.
Runaway/homeless youth shelters.
In addition to the high school scholarships that the Women of Woodbridge present every year to qualified students, the homeless student program support has the full support of the district, its board and the department personnel who make sure that the money goes to where it is needed most.
According to Leslie Agostini, the coordinator of the district health services department and the homeless and foster student liaison, the money donated through groups like Women of Woodbridge and Soroptimist International of Manteca assists with providing students ongoing support throughout the school year. Outfitting students with backpacks and the school supplies necessary to be successful in the classroom is always a priority at the beginning of the year, and making sure that every student has a warm jacket and suitable winter clothes when the season changes becomes equally important.
“I can’t emphasize the importance of the support of groups like Women of Woodbridge when it comes to these students enough,” Agostini said. “It provides a much-needed service, and it’s huge to the effort that we try to make to assist all of our students.”
Agostini also said that the money helps provide for necessary medical care – appointments at a doctor or dentist or at an optometrist for an eye exam – as well as nonperishable food items to supplement the nutrition of homeless students when they leave school for the day.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.