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4 posts from March 2017


Second ‘Know Your Rights’ forum preps undocumented about ICE raids

Second ‘Know Your Rights’ forum preps undocumented about ICE raids

Link to article at Sonomanews.com.


Businesses Pitch In to Landscape New La Luz Building


When La Luz Center asked retired landscaper Dave Waldron to estimate what it would cost to landscape its new new building, Waldron offered to gather some of his landscaping buddies in the Valley and do the project for free. He recruited donations of plants, materials and labor from nine local businesses, plus some additional labor from his Rotary friends and La Luz volunteers.

Pictured: Sonoma Rotary Club’s landscaping posse:  Gary DeSmet, Gary Edwards, Dave Waldron, Chip Allen, Jon Parker and Brad Nyberg.

The community effort saved La Luz more than $30,000, Waldron said.

“The landscaping industry relies on immigrant labor and we know the importance of La Luz in bettering our Hispanic community,” Waldron said. “It’s been a pleasure to help La Luz landscape their beautiful new building that will provide so many valuable services. Viva La Luz!”

Participating businesses include: Sonoma Materials, Sonoma Mission Gardens, Nyberg Landscaping, Watersaver’s Irrigation Supply, Sonoma Wholesale Nursery, Landscapes Unlimited, and Waldron Landscaping.

Source: http://sonomasun.com/2016/07/25/businesses-pitch-in-to-landscape-new-la-luz-building/

La Luz Microloan Program Paying Off

Posted on October 17, 2016 by Sonoma Valley Sun


Noemi Vasquez, center, is the first participant of the La Luz Microloan Program to pay off one of the low-interest loans available to boost small business in the Springs. Joining her at a breakfast celebration at La Luz are Donna Halow, chair of the loan committee, and Simon Blattner, who funded the program with his wife Kimberly. A part-time seamstress, Vasquez used her loan to buy an industrial sewing machine and now has her own business.

The microloans – guaranteed by the Blattners seed money through La Luz and administered at no extra charge by Exchange Bank – are meant for small businesses that would not otherwise qualify for a loan. A good relationship with lenders helps build credit and future security, Simon Blattner said.”It levels the playing field.”

Loans of $2,500 to $10,000 have been made to a restaurant, wholesale baker, and an auto repair shop, in the Springs and beyond.

La Luz is looking for more loan applicants, and more funders to help expand the program.

La Luz’s Family Resource Center a Great Success


The La Luz Family Resource Center at El Verano Elementary School shows that when two forces of community service join together the results can be a real asset to those they serve.

Less than a year ago, the Family Resource Center opened on the campus in Room 31 and now its benefits are starting to show.

Launched to help El Verano parents increase their involvement in their children’s education, the center now offers English language and computer classes, nutrition and gardening lessons, yoga and Zumba – and even citizenship classes that have resulted in five parents becoming citizens.

Twelve mothers recently graduated from a 10-week Latino Family Literacy class that taught them how to read to their kids and make reading a daily routine at home. They used bilingual books, getting into the practice of asking their kids, “What do you think will happen next?” and “Do you know what this word means?” At the final class the mothers were showing off thick scrapbook binders full of leaning tools they’d made including alphabets, shapes and colors, words with illustrations and number flashcards to use with their kids. “My favorite day of the week is when I come to this class,” one mother recently said.

The class is not only a place to learn, but also a place where mothers have formed friendships that provide a support network.

“They each bring food to share, and treat themselves to a nice meal afterward,” said Betzy Chavez, the director of the Family Resource Center.

Literacy is the main priority at El Verano, where 80 percent of the students are Latino and 70 percent are English-language learners.

“We want all of our students to be great readers and writers. That is the skill we focus on,” said Principal Maite Iturri, adding that all other learning springs from a strong ability to read.

The Family Resource Center is run by La Luz in collaboration with the elementary school, which has transitioned from a traditional elementary school to a “community school,” with an emphasis on serving families, not just children. Open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., there is a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten and, “A strong focus on early education,” Iturri said. “And there’s a men’s basketball group that plays here three nights a week, and when there was a hole in a wall that needed to be repaired, they stepped up and fixed it.”

At the Family Resource Center there is a wealth of information, from study guides from the Department of Motor Vehicles to application information for the Cal Fresh nutrition program. Psychological services are offered, including a weekly mental support group conducted by a psychiatrist. Computers and online access are available, and there is childcare for preschoolers while parents attend classes.

“We tried to make the center very cozy, very home-like,” said Chavez, who brings in fresh flower bouquets from her family’s garden. The Family Resource Center is funded by a grant from S.H. Cowell Foundation.

“Having the Family Resource Center here allows me to focus on the classrooms,” Iturri said. She said when parents come to her with housing, mental health or other domestic problems she now has a place right at the school to send them for help.

“This is not charity,” said Juan Hernandez, the executive director of La Luz. “This is systemic change for the benefit and well being of everyone as we look toward the future. It starts here at this level.”

Source articlehttp://www.sonomanews.com/home/6525742-181/el-verano-school-brings-families?artslide=4