62 posts categorized "Front Page"


La Luz Center's "Noche Latina" Tops Out with $452,000


MC Marcelo Defreitas and tango partner Valerie Walter Wow the crowd at Noche Latina. View more photos!

“Noche Latina” held at Glen Ellen’s K2 horse ranch, was a true celebration of La Luz Center’s 30th anniversary and of Sonoma Valley’s Latino heritage. 

The event was sold out to 400 guests who came decked out in red and black “tango” attire and costumed as Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera,  Che Guevarra, Zorro, Carmen Miranda and Evita. 

Volunteers in colorful La Luz tee shirts seemed to be everywhere… there were over 40 people helping park cars, directing traffic, and keeping the party running smoothly.

 “Noche” was a resounding success and raised a record-breaking $452,000 for La Luz Center.    

“The generosity of our donors empowers us and endorses our vision and mission of La Luz Center,” said La Luz Executive Director Juan Hernandez III, “We could not be more humbled and encouraged by what happened tonight. We know our work is embraced by Sonoma Valley.”

 Carlos Herrera band played Latin music for the cocktail hour which took place under majestic oak trees and giant flags of Latino countries.  Guests enjoyed wines by Highway 12 winery, blood orange martinis with Skyy vodka , Argentinian beef empanadas and paella stations.

Mariachi Bello and Los Charros showing their roping talents entertained when the guests promenaded into the elegant Buenos Aires tango lounge lit with chandeliers and candelabra and long tables set with red cloths and black lace. 

Bare-chested matador MC Marcelo Defreitas, the event’s creator and producer, and local attorney Valerie Pistole, in glittering satin, took the huge curtained stage and began the night’s entertainment with a passionate, crowd-pleasing tango.

The consummate entertainer, Defreitas teased guests, played bullfight music and had a bull make a surprise attack on board member Kimberly Blattner, who “didn’t get the memo” about not wearing red.

Dinner by Elaine Bell was served family style and included Latin-inspired beef, fish and vegetable dishes, with tres leches cake for birthday dessert.

A video showcasing La Luz’s expanding work was shown before the Fund a Need, which was a huge vote of confidence from the crowd, topping all former auctions when three donors offered to match hundred- dollar donations.  Paddles flew into the air, and the crowd roared. 

Executive Director Juan Hernandez took the stage for a surprise tribute to Defreitas, thanking him for “giving five years of his life and talents to La Luz.”

Noche Latina is the fifth find raising party Defreitas has created and produced. Taking the community by storm he first took La Luz supporters to his native Brazil’s Copacabana nightclub, a party held at the Sonoma Barracks.  In search of more space, he created a Moroccan Casbah at Hanna Boys Center; then to Jack London Park’s African savannah; the South Pacific gardens of Cline Winery and has finally come full circle back to our valley’s roots with Noche Latina. 

Entertainment for the party included Mexican Ballet Folklorico, Sangre Latina and Aquarela do Brasil dance groups --to the crowd’s delight the sexy Brazilian dancers from the Copacabana made a comeback.  As has become tradition, to cap off a perfect party, guests took the stage for spirited “hang loose” disco dancing. 

La Luz Center has been serving Sonoma Valley for thirty years.  In the past year it has expanded its many services, and with a new collaborative with el Verano School strives to be a catalyst for change through health, education and financial security.








View more photos!


Sonoma Latino leaders explore the Leadership Challenge


La Luz Center recently hosted the Leadership Challenge workshop. In this exclusive to the Sonoma Valley Sun, Sonoma Leadership Systems’ Lauren Parkhill reports on the inspiring workshop.

Full article at the Sonoma Valley Sun



Happy 4th of July!!

La Luz clients, staff and board marched in the 4th of July parade.  They were welcomed by overwhelming cheers from the crowd!  Go, La Luz!!

Photo 1





La Luz Thanks Sonoma’s Impact 100


This year, La Luz was one of the recipients of an Impact Community Grant for $15,000 to expand the Employment Services & Computer Literacy Program.  These programs provide members of Sonoma Valley’s low income families with employment counseling, computer literacy classes and ongoing technology literacy assistance. The expansion will allow La Luz to reach many more families, hold job fairs and add much needed classes.  The expanded program provides participants with increased confidence in their technology skills, ability to find employment and be more competitive in the Sonoma County labor market.  The programs will continue to be managed by our Community Education & Engagement Program Manager, Malinalli López, who has implemented similar, successful skills improvement programming on behalf of the City of Santa Rosa prior to working at La Luz Center. Jerardo Martinez is our Technology and Employment Navigator.

La Luz is also one of the partners of On the Move, this years winner of the $100,000 annual grant from Impact 100 for the implementation of a Sonoma Valley Parent University at El Verano and Sassarini Elementary Schools.  Parents learn how to support their children, improve their English, volunteer at the schools and connect with other parents. The ultimate goal is for parents to become  leaders in their community and role models for their children.  


La Luz brings Cinco de Mayo back to the Plaza

After five years, La Luz Center was thrilled to bring its Cinco de Mayo celebration back to the Sonoma Plaza, and even more thrilled to receive such a great welcome back from the community. When we planned the event we knew that we would have good attendance but we never imagined that we would have such a huge turnout!

Sheila Whitney kicked off the event with a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  The dancers of the Mexican Folkoric Dance Company Quetzalen brought us the spirit and culture of Mexico.  Quetzalen consists of all ages from 5 years old to adults who kept the crowd entertained as they twirled, danced and spun their colorful multi-layered traditional dresses.  The crowd joined in the dancing, as well as the ladies of Zumba who demonstrated a fun way to excersize and stay healthy; the energy flowed  with the Aztec Dance Troupe Xantot. A “baile” from the group Efikaz was the finale.  


The crowd was drawn into the plaza’s amphitheater by the magical sound of Mariachi Barragan who instilled in us such great emotions.

The celebration offered delicious food-- ceviche, tortas ahgoadas, tacos, sopes, aguas frescas and many more antojitos. Community members had the opportunity to stop at the Metro PCS spin wheel for prizes and offers, chat with our local police department, make paper flowers at the Artescape booth, and check out clothing from The Lonesome Cowboy Ranch & Passion 4 Fashion booths.

This wonderful event would not have been possible without our many volunteers who gave their time in helping organize and keep the event running smoothly. We want thank the community for attending.  It was our goal to provide a safe, fun, family friendly event and that it was. We can’t wait to see you all at next year’s celebration!


La Luz Center's ESL volunteer is the Sun's "Volunteer of the Year"

JOyce-Moldovan-200x267For her volunteer work teaching English at La Luz Center, educator Joyce Moldovan has been honored with The Sun’s second annual Spirit of the Valley Award. The award celebrates the volunteer who has provided extraordinary, unpaid service over a significant period of time to a community cause in the Sonoma Valley.

 Read whole article at sonomasun.com


Noche Latina! Save the Date: Sat, August 1st, 2015


Come let our sassy salsa, sultry tango and sexy samba entice you to a Latin night!

Save the date August 1st, 2015 when La Luz Center presents a high-spirited evening embracing the many exciting celebrations of Latino heritage.  Savor the zest of authentic cuisines and signature libations, then experience the rhythmic beat of passionate performers and seductive dancers!

A Latin band, bright pageantry and abundant Latino passion will transport you to NOCHE LATINA!

Another fabulous NOCHE event!

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, August 1st, 2015


La Luz Named Leader of the North Bay


La Luz Center was recently honored as a “Leader of the North Bay” by the North Bay Leadership Council.  The award was presented to recognize La Luz’s role in empowering the Latino community. 

The North Bay Leadership Council was founded over twenty years ago as an employer-led public policy advocacy organization committed to providing leadership in ways to make the entire North Bay (Sonoma and Marin) sustainable, prosperous and innovative.

 Other honorees at the event were the Buck Institute for Aging, Marin Sanitary Service, Marin County Cultural Services Director Jim Farley, and Willie Tamayo of La Tortilla Factory. 

“We were honored last year to receive the Jefferson Award in Sonoma County,” said La Luz Executive Director Juan Hernandez.   “I am very proud that our work is now being recognized in the entire North Bay.”


Día de los Muertos

This year La Luz Center hosted a celebration for the Sonoma community to honor their loved ones who have passed in the annual Día de los Muertos event. Approximately 100 people came to celebrate two days of creating altars, honoring friends and family, dance performances, candle decorating, food and a special blessing from Danza Xantotl.

La Luz is grateful for the generous contributions from local businesses as well as the many volunteers that represented Sonoma State, Community Action Partnership, Alcoholics Anonymous and Líderes Campesinas.



Andy Radolf is Honored as La Luz’s Star Volunteer!

Andy Radolf, a valued volunteer who for two years has devoted his time and energy to La Luz, was recently honored as our Star Volunteer by the Sonoma Valley Fund. 

Andy always goes the extra mile to move us forward into our community.

Andy previously worked for UNESCO in Central America.  When he retired and moved to Sonoma, he immediately put his professional skills to work for us. 

He has been a vital player in our Business Micro-Lending Program, whose goal is to help people start or improve their small business. Andy’s connection to Latino business owners in our community allowed him to recruit participants for a focus group, which has evolved into this valuable new program.

Andy was a driving force behind La Luz’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, visiting many Latino owned businesses in the Springs area along Highway 12 to secure food and drink so we could offer free refreshments for the event.

Congratulations, and thank you, Andy!


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