Group shifts from free CPR classes to helping needy during coronavirus crisis
Lesly’s CPR now hands out food, hygiene products and clothing in addition to rent assistance
By REBECCA K. O’CONNOR | Inland Empire Community Foundation
PUBLISHED: September 4, 2020 at 12:44 p.m. | UPDATED: September 4, 2020 at 12:47 p.m.
An organization in the High Desert has shifted to helping clients with essential needs.
Lesly Pickett had worked as a medical professional for more than a decade when she decided to start a nonprofit organization. As a CPR instructor, she saw firsthand how others could save lives with these skills. However, those who lived in disadvantaged and low-income communities did not have access to this training.
Lesley’s CPR was launched to offer free CPR training to those who could not afford the classes.
“There was a lot of reported deaths by drowning and other incidents and I wondered how many people could save lives like these with training,” Pickett said. “Giving back gives you a totally different outlook on life.”
Pickett still works as a licensed vocational nurse four days a week even as Lesly’s CPR has expanded services during the coronavirus pandemic. While Pickett plans to continue offering free CPR classes, she saw that there were greater needs and other ways to save lives in her community of Adelanto and Victorville. She quickly shifted her organization to help.
The all-volunteer nonprofit group has been providing food, hygiene products and clothing to those who are struggling and cannot travel to locations where these items are being distributed. Pickett and volunteers go into communities, providing curbside contact-less pickup for those who may not have bus money or any other means of transportation.
Some clients cannot travel due to disabilities and others are hesitant to ask for help, according to Pickett. At one of her pickups a teenager walked up to ask if she could get food for her family. Her mother had been quarantined for 14 days and they had no way to get groceries.
“A lot of people go forgotten,” Pickett said. “They were literally across the street from us and I remember being that child and not knowing what I would do. It keeps me going.”
Recently, the organization received a grant from the IE Funders Alliance Rapid Response Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to help those in need. The money has helped provide food and, in some cases, helped families stay in their homes.
One family Lesly’s CPR assisted had lost their mother due to COVID-19. The father was caring for his young children alone and was having trouble keeping up with his rent. The property management company was moving forward with an eviction. When no other organizations were able to help the family, Lesly’s CPR provided rental assistance so they could stay in their home.
“If you can help one person and save their life it keeps you going and fills your heart,” Pickett said. “When I’m giving and get those stories it’s wonderful. It makes me relentless.”
Pickett plans to continue to provide necessities to those in need throughout the pandemic. Volunteers serve between 50 and 100 families a week and the demand is growing. Currently, the organization is also working on raising funds to provide children with the school supplies they need while attending school remotely.
Individuals wishing to assist with her organization’s work can donate through its website.
Pickett hopes that someday her work in the community will be full-time. She feels that she has found her calling and encourages others to reach out and help those in need throughout the crisis.
“We go to the disadvantaged communities and we show them that we’re here and it matters,” Pickett said. “If you want to help, just start. The work is worth it.”
Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.
Alejandra Diaz, regional coordinator for Catholic Charities for the High Desert, left, and Lesly Pickett distribute food for the needy. Lesley’s CPR once gave free CPR lessons but has shifted to help the needy during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Lesley’s CPR)
Lesly’s CPR stages a curbside pickup to help the needy in the Adelanto community at a low-income apartment complex. (Photo courtesy of Lesly’s CPR)