A recently organized Community Ambulance Foundation hopes to benefit not only Escalon Community Ambulance, but similar community ambulance organizations.
Spearheaded by former Escalon Community Ambulance Manager Mike Pitassi, he said the goal is to help provide funds for some of those necessary equipment purchases that otherwise might be hard for small organizations to handle.
“Community ambulances are home grown organizations. Many times they were started because there was no other government or private industry that would consider the investment,” Pitassi said. “There is rarely political or economic advantages to be had.”
A volunteer-led group, the new Community Ambulance Foundation is in the process of preparing a framework to encourage ambulance services to join and looking for funding sources to be able to provide grants.
For Pitassi, now serving as president of the CAF, it was that firsthand look at the organization of ECA that provided the impetus for creating a foundation.
“I came to be the first chief of a small non-profit community ambulance in 1987. The service had existed 26 years prior my hiring as an all-volunteer service. Amazingly the service had weathered every change brought to it,” Pitassi said of coming on board at ECA.
One thing Pitassi said he learned during his time as the ECA Chief was that the organization needed community support.
“I worked at it and had some success. I tried my best to fit in fundraising goals but always felt I could have done more,” he explained. “One thing I would dream about was that someone would come alongside me and help me raise support for my ongoing capital needs, new ambulances and new equipment.”
With the formation of Community Ambulance Foundation, it is that help and support that Pitassi is now hoping to provide to ambulance organizations like ECA.
Community Ambulance Foundation has been registered as a 501c3 in California, added Pitassi.
“Community Ambulance Foundation will provide my community or any community non-profit ambulance service a vehicle to raise money that is secure from risk and can come alongside or just work towards raising the capital needs of services whose management already has much to do,” Pitassi explained. “Services that sign an agreement with CAF which gives permission to conduct fundraising on their behalf and fly their company logo alongside of CAF’s logo will begin the effort to raise funding together.”
Escalon Community Ambulance’s board voted to provide $5,000 in start-up funds for CAF and Pitassi said other districts that join will benefit from fundraising done in their own community as well as from any grants or donations the CAF receives.
“Community non-profit and public agencies that have little or no help in raising their support is the focus of CAF and funds raised in their districts will be used solely for their districts,” said Pitassi.
Funds raised through corporations outside of the districts will be distributed among those that have agreed to participate. Whether the need is for a specialized gurney, help financing a new ambulance or purchase of new radios, the goal of Community Ambulance Foundation is to help lighten the financial load.
Pitassi also said those organizations that join will be kept apprised of fundraising efforts in their area as well as any other funds that come in.
“Transparency is critical to the success of CAF,” Pitassi pointed out, noting that the Foundation board members are eager to start talks with local ambulance districts to gauge interest in the effort and hopefully encourage them to join.