FORT BRAGG, CA – On May 20, Annie Liner, director of the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund (MCCF), visited the nonprofit storage units for a routine check, as a large shipment of sporting goods Summer was due to arrive soon and discovered that a break-in had occurred. The units were in ruins and everything of value was gone. A large sum of money was coming in to fund the children’s summer programs, and now a serious loss of newly purchased and donated items for children’s daily lives loomed before her. Children would need these items long before any insurance settlements arrived, and now summer programs were also on the line. Annie Liner said, “We can’t wait for the money to say to the children that they can go out this summer. They need safe activities where they can learn to socialize appropriately.
The burglary is currently being investigated by city, county, and federal law enforcement officials, and the current guess is that the break-in most likely occurred on the day of the Mother’s Day, May 10. Any leads or information on the details of what was stolen and the identity of the alleged perpetrators remain with the authorities. However, Liner is able to confirm that a quick inventory and appraisal indicates that the nonprofit’s loss is well over $10,000. Employees are still in the process of extensive accounting which is complicated by sales invoices for these items which are held by the donors and not by the nonprofit. Liner noted that many of his clients have suffered from home and car burglaries. She said: “It feels like terrible aggression when you go through this. It is a terrible offence. It expands our compassion for our clients as they go through this.
Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund has a thirty year history in the community. It guarantees financial support to most other nonprofits and organizations in the region that strive to meet the needs of families living in precarious situations. This grassroots nonprofit organization also supports the local school district, food bank, Project Sanctuary, Hospitality House, and many seasonal sports teams for children. Not all groups they help. Many other small community support groups could not keep their doors open without MCCF. What continues to drive Liner’s relentless focus are the realities of economic disparity that COVID has heightened. She has witnessed the ravages of job instability, mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence that have swept through every corner of coastal communities. Liner also sees a critical need to provide the nonprofit’s services with a mobile unit. You go where the people are.
The MCCF has taken over the monitoring of family resource functions which are generally the responsibility of any county. Liner sees his intent as filling the gaps left by inadequate county social services, and there are plenty. Liner said this project made him realize how many families in outlying areas struggle without transportation to access the services they need, like the food bank. Children need medical services in San Francisco or Ukiah. Taking a bus requires cash. “We catch people the government doesn’t catch. We catch the underserved population. We catch people who don’t have cellphones, aren’t computer savvy, and don’t have childcare so they can line up and ask for help,” Liner explained. “We not only support children, but also people of all ages,” she added.
At the moment, Liner faces a double dilemma: whether to use summer program funds to replace lost items needed later this year or to fully deliver on the promise to children who look forward to outdoor recreation when the school is over. She said she was “trying not to let flying trump their commitments”. She needs immediate secure storage and donations for the summer program. If no such storage space is soon available, it may be forced to refuse the new shipment. “We’re the most effective response to community needs, and we’ve been here for thirty years,” Liner said. “We very rarely ask the community for help, and this time we really need help,” she added.
While there’s no solution yet to the nonprofit’s setback, Liner focuses on what matters most. “We will continue,” she confirmed. “We never let anything stop us.” Regarding service to those in need, she said: “The community needs to stand up if they want an effective and responsible response, and sending us some money would be really helpful. We have hundreds of children waiting to be enrolled in summer programs, and we need to be able to say ‘yes’, not tell them that they will have to wait for the adults to pull themselves together,” she stressed. The loss of the nonprofit organization weighs on her, and she wants the public to trust her plea for help. “It’s really important that people understand how much integrity and commitment we bring to our work. We are a lifeline for so many families who have not been able to get services,” she said.
Liner hasn’t scheduled the usual spring fundraiser this year, so donors may choose to funnel their available capital to Ukraine instead. To help the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund during this crisis, donations are extremely helpful. A check can be mailed to MCCF, PO Box 1616, Mendocino, CA 95460. Online donations can be made by clicking “Donations” in the menu at www.mccf.info. If you have secure storage to offer, visit the website address already listed for help.
If you have information about the MCCF storage unit burglary, contact the Fort Bragg Police Department at 707-964-0200, the contact number for reporting a crime.