The Sonoma County that we love!

Posts tagged ‘community’

The Living Room Center

The Living Room NeedsI recently met a woman that volunteers at The Living Room Center where they provide day services for women and children who are homeless. I told her that I had been wanting to donate some of my time to teach the ladies how to use LinkedIn to help in job searches. I was warmly welcomed and took a tour yesterday.

It’s located on Cherry Street in Santa Rosa and was quite active. It felt like a living room. Lots of chatter, activity, visiting, computer time, checking in with the volunteers, food, and support. Not all of the women are homeless but all need help in one way or another. LR gave referrals to community resources, including shelters, housing, food programs,  employment counseling, health and mental health programs and more.

I am so excited to have something of value to offer these ladies in the form of digital literacy, job search assistance, communications, computer skills, and personal confidence. I will be teaching small classes once per month and I can’t wait to get started. I had a tough period in my life, that if I’d chosen a slightly different path, I’d be in a completely different place in my life. I survived and am doing well so I want to help.

If you would like to help, check out this page Urgent Program Needs that shows ways they need help such as personal items for the women and needs for the children they love. They also need volunteers.

The Mission of The Living Room is to ease adversity and promote stability, dignity and self-reliance for woman and children who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, in Sonoma County.

 

SAY Beat the Cold BBQ

The huge pile of socks

I attended Social Advocates for Youth Annual Beat the Cold BBQ on 12/9/11 to end teen homelessness. The admission was a pack of socks. It was cold outside. I mean really cold. SAY runs the only teen homeless shelter in Sonoma County, the Dr. James E. Coffee House. Matt Martin, Executive Director, had many facts to share when he spoke to the standing room only crowd. Among them that there are over 700 homeless teens on the streets of Sonoma County. But the fact that grabbed me by the lapel is that when asked, 100% said they were hungry.

So the next time you see a kid on the street, don’t assume they are up to no good. They may be safer on the streets than in their own home. That’s an absolutely horrible fact, but it’s true. Reach out to them. Show them you care. Help them on their way. Your interest and attention may be all that’s keeping them with us. You were once a troubled youth, right? Weren’t we all?

Want to know what you can do? Donate your time or your money. Visit SAY’s site to learn more.

A Thankful Meal at the SAY Tamayo House

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve noticed I talk about Leadership Santa Rosa a lot. I love being involved (as you can probably tell) and even though this entry mentions LSR, it’s about much more. See the Flickr Photo Album.

Jill, Cat, J, Julie & Sean - coordinators

J Mullineaux, Julie Montgomery, Jill Sanford and myself got together to brainstorm ways to stay connected with the rest of our classmates. J had a great idea to have a dinner party for Social Advocates for Youth’s (SAY). I can’t express clearly enough how amazing they are! SAY is a youth advocacy organization that provides: shelter for homeless teens, a foster transition home, meals for the hungry, counseling, crisis intervention, youth employment, helping encourage graduation, mentoring, low cost tattoo removal for ex-gang members, and a sense of support and belonging.

We chose to make a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the Mary and Jose Tamayo House. Tamayo House is transitional housing for teens that have aged out of the foster care system yet still need guidance in the form of shelter, safety, job training, life training, and provides them with a sense of family. With 50 kids aging out of foster care every year, the 25 beds at Tamayo house are desperately needed. Otherwise these kids hit the street. In the recession, they’ve seen that the kids are staying longer (they are eligible 18-24).

I can’t imagine not having a family. I don’t know what it’s like to have no one to turn to when you want to learn how to cook, open a checking account, get a job, find a place to live, apply for college, or need a place to stay. These kids pretty much have nothing the minute they turn 18 and are out of foster care. I do know what it’s like to need crisis intervention and have a safe place to go. I was 16 when my family and I called SAY for help. The Dr. James E. Coffee Emergency Teen Shelter had a different name and location when I stayed there but the focus is the same.

We knew that these kids may not get a Thanksgiving meal so we brought it to them. 14 out of our 28 classmates divided up the menu and got to cooking all the traditional fixings. The tables were set for a harvest celebration and the sparkling cider flowed. Several turkeys, mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, green salad, green beans, bread, pumpkin pie, apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake (I have an awesome recipe, just ask me in the comments). These kids lined up with their plates and demolished the meal, some came back again and again. There were plenty of leftovers.

The Thank You

We didn’t know each other and they didn’t have to come out of their rooms to eat with us but it felt like a family dinner nonetheless. It was such a happy night and we laughed, joked, and ate with each other as if we’d done it every year. Not so secretly, I’d like to do it again and again.

In the theme of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for:

  • SAY and the lifesaving work they perform
  • Mary & Jose Tamayo for helping SAY to keep kids warm, safe, and off the streets
  • my own family that keeps me warm
  • my awesome LSR classmates, for we are all of the same heart, striving to help others and make a difference
  • Jill, J, Julie, Vicky, Steve (for putting in so much time) and all the rest that made such amazing food
  • the dishwashers!
  • the kids that sat with us, trusted us, and let us in
  • Cat Cvengros and Matt Martin, just two of the amazing angels at SAY
  • and that pumpkin cheesecake recipe!

May your Thanksgiving be full of warmth, love, and lots of wonderful food to eat.

Handcar Regatta: The Festival Santa Rosa was Lucky to Have

The Wonderment Machine

Sometimes a magical thing happens by accident. Sometimes by design.

Santa Rosa was lucky to have the Handcar Regatta for 4 years in Railroad Square.  It was an art festival, street fair, costume show, and creative event by Ty Jones and Spring Maxfield. A maker, steampunk event that asked it’s participants to create vehicles that could ride the rails under their own power. Timed trials and fun ensued. I was only able to attend 2010 and 2011 events, years 3 and 4. But it may happen never again. I expect that magic is over.

They used the train tracks for the timed trials and we have S.M.A.R.T. coming through bringing rail service with it. We desperately need a solution for mass transit but it is sad to see the end of a whimsical event. All I can say it that I know Ty will come up with more amazing events! I can’t wait.

See my photo albums from Handcar Regatta 2010 and Handcar Regatta 2011.

Summer Nights in Railroad Square

courtesy of Summer Nights at Railroad Square

Last year was the start of a wonderful neighborhood event here in Santa Rosa, Summer Nights in Railroad Square. On the first Friday evening of June, July, August and September you could expect to enjoy yourself with neighbors, food, wine tasting, art, music and the sunset. I only went to three of the four last year but I made sure I was at each and every one this year. For $20 you can get a wrist band and taste wines up and down Fourth Street in Railroad Square. You can enjoy food from one of several food truck vendors or patronize the great establishments up and down the street. The art, music, and people are entertainment that surrounds you. Every time I went, I saw lots of people I knew and had an unreasonably good time.

I wanted to say thank you to Ty Jones and Kernan Coleman and anyone else that had something to do with creating this lovely event. I am so pleased that it’s yet another great time, here in Sonoma County.

Agriculture Day for Leadership Santa Rosa Class 27

I’m involved in this great program called Leadership Santa Rosa run by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. All chambers have leadership programs but we are going into our 28th year, which I understand is the longest running of it’s kind in the U.S. I was in Class 26 and am the incoming President for the Alumni Association. There are many theme days: government, business, green issues, health & human services, media & marketing, justice, education, hospitality & tourism (watch for a blog on that one), and the most popular is agriculture. I was on the committee to produce Class 27’s Agriculture Day on 5/19/11. See my blog from last year’s Ag Day.

We visited the Rancho Laguna Dairy and heard from Art Lafranchi about the dairy business. What is amazing about this day is that it starts so early in the morning yet we are halfway through their workday by the time we arrive at the dairy. Last year when I went through the program compared to today were very different experiences. Since earlier this year, I have been flitting between being a vegan and a vegetarian. Those cows looked a lot different, let me tell you.

Flickr Photo Album

Tierra Vegetables is this wonderful CSA farm in Santa Rosa. Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is basically a membership to a farm. You pay a monthly cost to get a set amount of veggies either delivered for you or available for pickup. Evie & Wayne James gave us a lovely tour and the thing I noticed the most, next to the beautiful vegetation, was the fact that Wayne walked his land barefoot. I was blown away at the thought that he knew how his land felt through his entire body. Sounds silly but it’s a grounding concept. If you know of anyone that is stealing their produce, they’d greatly like it to stop.

There is a secret in Sonoma County. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm is this enclave of amazing foodstuffs in the form of fungi. The GMF doesn’t open their doors for anyone really. That’s the beauty of LSR. We get to go places no one else could get close to. Bob Engel gives us a tour every year and the idea that mushrooms can grow on wood always blows people away.

Most of the people traveling on that day were by bus, I drove my car because I had to leave early. This day is even more special because of the bonding that occurs on the bus.

On to Shone Farm, the botanical educational laboratory for the JC agriculture, viticulture, and culinary courses. Leonard Diggs is a farmer through and through. The beauty here is striking. The students that get to learn about animals, farming, vineyard work, winemaking, the culinary arts, as well as having a location for large events within the horse arena in the Dutton Pavilion. Last year we were there during tomato season and got to taste some 🙂

We had a great panel of speakers to speak on Emerging Trends & Challenges of Agriculture. They were: Lex McCorvey, Sonoma County Farm Bureau; Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agriculture Commission & Interim Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner; Joe Pozzi, Pozzi Ranch Lamb; and Clark Wolf, Clark Wolf Company.

The day ended at DeLoach Vineyards with a panel on the Sonoma County Wine Industry with Brian Maloney of DeLoach Vineyards; Rhonda Smith of UC Cooperative Extension; and Nick Frey of Sonoma Winegrape Commission. There was a tasting but I’m sad to have missed that part of the day. The gardens, bees, vineyards, guesthouse, and pool were phenomenal.

Thanks to all the great hosts, speakers, and locations that are made available to this amazing program. We couldn’t do it without all of you!

Farmer’s Market

Strange Fruit

I absolutely LOVE going to farmer’s markets. My favorite is Saturday mornings at the Santa Rosa Vet’s Building, Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Saturdays are like a street fair with music, prepared food, and lots of little kids. There are so many different markets, last season when the Press Democrat printed a list of where and when each was happening, I printed it and color coded it by day. It was really useful when I wanted to remember where I could shop depending on what city I was in. I found a list of the surrounding area markets for you if you want it.

Does anyone know what this fruit is? It was beautiful but I have no idea.

%d bloggers like this: