With the goal of raising enough money to purchase a new ambulance and put it in service, Escalon Community Ambulance has started a two-pronged effort: offering up information while seeking members and funding.
ECA Manager Vanessa Herrero and Community Outreach Coordinator Leah Truelove are spearheading the campaign, hoping to get additional members for the community-based organization.
Escalon Community Ambulance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and depends on membership to help keep the doors open. These days, it is more important than ever to get that community buy-in, said paramedics Herrero and Truelove.
A letter being sent out to many community businesses outlines the need for additional funding, above and beyond the membership fees.
“In general, we collet less than 20 percent of what we bill out due to the uninsured and Medicare write-downs. Due to the Coronavirus our call volume has surprisingly decreased, initially, by 40 percent and has not recovered completely,” the letter states. “The investment needed is $100,000 to ensure a fully equipped emergency response vehicle … We thank you in advance for your contribution and support to our non-profit lifesaving work and our most recent endeavor in bringing home a new ambulance.”
ECA’s goal is to purchase the Malley Ram ProMaster ambulance.
The letter suggests three ways businesses can support ECA: by making a donation online at www.ecaems.com; by sending a check to P.O. Box 212, Escalon, CA 95320; or by donating a gift basket item or service that ECA can use as a raffle prize.
They are planning a fall dessert drive-thru and also did a previous dinner drive-thru event.
Those signing up for new memberships also have some incentive, such as receiving a pair of tickets to the upcoming Chamber of Commerce Wine/Brew Stroll.
Annual membership fees are $60 for a family plan or $50 for the senior family plan, individual plan or senior individual plan. An informational flyer outlines the benefits of membership which, with one trip to a hospital in an ambulance, basically pays for itself.
The two paramedics said they are slowly covering the entire community, sending out donation letters in batches, as well as checking the membership rolls and contacting those that are not currently part of the ECA family.
They also put together a fun, educational Tuesday program this summer for youngsters, covering such topics as water safety, bicycle safety and first aid. There were projects, activities, demonstrations and more, with Escalon police and fire departments also helping out.
Herrero said they have also been able to do some cross-training with both those departments, as they work together to form a cohesive emergency response system for the city.
Both Herrero and Truelove admit getting the membership levels up and raising enough for a new ambulance, as well as increasing awareness about all that ECA does, is not a short term project.
“The goal is hopefully, ultimately raise what we can and see where we’re at by the end of the year,” Herrero explained. “COVID really put a kink in the economy and our donations are coming in slowly.”
The membership fees are “stable money we can work with,” Herrero said, a guaranteed source of income.
“We are super grateful for what we have gotten in,” Truelove added of the recent donations outside the membership fees.
Overall, the effort to get more knowledge of ECA out to the community, especially the younger citizens, will only help with the long term stability of the organization, said Herrero.
“The majority of people wait to become members after they need us,” said Truelove, noting that they didn’t necessarily realize the cost of transport and/or services and didn’t know how much the membership would help reduce that out of pocket cost.
“The $60 a year family membership is a low annual cost, it’s really unfortunate that more people don’t jump on it,” admitted Truelove.
Membership is currently at about 750, said Herrero, meaning roughly 90 percent of the community is not on that membership list.
“I would like to see that at 1500 by the end of the year,” Truelove said.
“We feel like we’ve got a good program here,” added Herrero. “It benefits both of us.”
ECA gets some financial stability and members get services at a much reduced cost.
Admitting that COVID was tough both mentally and physically on ECA staffers – the same as everyone else – they are just now feeling comfortable gearing back up and going full speed with the membership and fundraising efforts.
They also enjoyed putting on the summer ‘kids camp’ and were able to make contact with many young families through the effort.
“We wanted to be involved in the community a lot more,” noted Truelove.
The earlier drive-thru spaghetti dinner fundraiser, along with a ‘Round up the Change’ effort through the local ACE Hardware helped kick off the fundraising and they are continuing now with the donation request letters and planning for the fall dessert drive-thru.
Herrero said they also want to make membership easier, so they are reaching out through several Social Media avenues and offering an all online sign up program as well as Venmo payments in addition to the traditional paper membership application.
For more information, contact ECA at 209-838-1351 or visit www.ecaems.com.