By Crystal Harrell

Operating since 1990, Martha’s Village & Kitchen has been serving the Coachella Valley’s impoverished and homeless population for three decades. Martha’s Village offers transitional housing for families and individuals, nutritious meals, case management, childcare, recovery services, employment and education services, and emergency assistance. These programs are supplemented by a thrift store, medical clinic, computer lab, food pantry, resource room, and a cooling center.

The mission of the organization is to create a safe, welcoming environment for impoverished and homeless families, children, and individuals, providing a proven robust selection of housing, education, and support services so that they are empowered to transform their lives with dignity.

Martha’s collaborates and partners with other organizations and agencies to leverage resources and fill gaps to ensure the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the organization and to break the cycle of poverty for the people they serve.

There are several ways the community can volunteer their time and materials to Martha’s Village & Kitchen. Individuals, groups, families, students and children looking to volunteer must be 12 years and older; volunteers between the ages of 12 and 15 need to be accompanied by a guardian. No one under the age of 16 can work in the Kitchen or serve on the line, but 12 to 15 year-olds can help clean and give food service support in the Dining Room.

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New volunteers should attend the Volunteer Orientation, where they will complete a volunteer application, take a tour of the facility, and learn about volunteer opportunities at Martha’s Village & Kitchen. As a result, it will help determine the best placement for those interested based on skills, interests, and talents. Training provides volunteers with the tools necessary to receive the most from the experience of volunteering.

Volunteer duties include helping staff assemble canned/ dry goods bags for impoverished families in the community; maintaining and organizing the food pantry while providing basic client services and referrals; greeting and assisting guests, residents, clients and members of the community at the lobby desk; and care for infants and young children. In addition, volunteers can help children with their homework or lead after-school activities while assisting in family-oriented activities to promote family interest in reading.

Those volunteering at the Career & Education Center must be 18 years or older. While there, they will help tutor adults in basic education subjects and family literacy, help people develop computer skills, and assist clients in job search activities.

Another service that Martha’s Village & Kitchen provides for adults is free tax preparation services. Volunteers will be at Martha’s Village every Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to assist those in need. The program currently runs until April 11, providing tax filing resources through partnerships with other local agencies, and acting as a resource for the local community. While providing this same service last year, there were over 600 returns filed for free.

Those interested in this free tax preparation service can visit the Martha’s Village & Kitchen location in Indio without scheduling an appointment, but it is important to note that the site works on a first come, first serve basis. Individuals who earned less than $70 thousand in 2019 and had no business losses or rental income are the ones that qualify.

Another way the community can participate in Martha’s Village & Kitchen’s cause is by taking part in the upcoming 14th Annual Fortem Financial Thanksgiving 5k that will take place on November 26 on El Paseo and San Pablo Avenue in Palm Desert. The registration fee will give runners the chance to help stomp out hunger in the Coachella Valley, feeding the men, women, and children the organization serves each day.

For more information on future events and how to get involved at Martha’s Village & Kitchen, visit their website at marthasvillage.org.