53 posts categorized "Front Page"

10/02/2014

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

Untitled
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!

 

09/30/2014

Friday Night Computer Class Empowers Students

Nine students recently completed an eight-week course teaching not only basic computer skills, but also helping the students improve their typing, analyze problems, and share their knowledge. The class helped develop critical thinking and allowed students to use computers to write about their new skills, create email accounts, learn about operating systems, organize their desktop with Microsoft Office, and use the Internet.

“Results were good,” one student, Jorge Martínez, said. “These classes have contributed to my improved computing skills. Now, I am more dependent on myself.”

Alicia Olvera said, “I did not know what the USB is; now I can save my files in there.” Both students attended all classes during the course.

“In the beginning as in the ending, we were like a family that shared smiles, happiness, and frustration,” commented instructor Jerardo Martinez. 

Thank you, Union Bank!

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 1.19.23 PM

Robin Gold, Manager of the Union Bank Sonoma Branch, recently presented La Luz Center Executive Director Juan Hernandez, with a donation to support the center’s many initiatives including community health programs, bilingual education, financial and computer literacy, and parenting skill classes. Thank you, Union Bank!!

08/13/2014

“NOCHE en SOUTH PACIFIC” a Great Success!

IMG_4832-L

View full slideshow here


Thank you to all our supporters who made “Noche en South Pacific” our most successful fundraiser ever.”

On Saturday, August 2, Marcelo Defreitas and his Noche committee presented a fun and memorable party to celebrate and support La Luz Center.  

 According to La Luz board president Anna Pier, “over $400,000

was raised.  “These funds will power the new direction La Luz is taking, collaborating with El Verano School and focusing on the areas of health, education and financial security for our Sonoma Valley Community.”

A sold-out crowd of over 450--white clad sailors and guests in Hawaiian shirts and leis --mingled in the lush gardens at Cline Cellars, enjoying passion fruit bikini cocktails with Skye vodka, champagne and wines from Highway 12 and Cline Cellars.

There were fresh caviar and shrimp ceviche stations, and ahi tuna and pork belly hors d’hoeuvres. Rob, Robin and Lynette Lyons brought their tropical macaws, cockatoos, a New Zealand wallaby and a porcupine.

Dinner by Elaine Bell began with a Kalua pig paraded in by native dancers, a Polynesian conch shell call, and a haunting Hawaiian dance blessing. Tiki torches lined the entrance to the dining area.

A dramatic red Polynesian backdrop and stage were set in the gardens, and colorful aquariums lighted the dining tables.

Master of Ceremonies Defreitas, bare-chested in a grass skirt and henna tattoos, delighted the crowd.  “I love you all and I love La Luz!” he said.  “That’s why we work for nine months to give you this party.  It’s a token of our appreciation for you-- our donors!”

Ligia Booker, founder of La Luz and Director Emeritus told of working through the Catholic church to start helping “the almost invisible Hispanic community” 40 years ago.  “Thanks to the involvement of so many people, this community now has an identity and is proud to take its part in the Sonoma Valley community. 

 “The heart of La Luz is empathy and dedication,” said Juan Hernandez, La Luz Center’s Executive Director.  “Hard work is the soul --and you are the hands.”

In a clever outdoor “Mash” shower Sheila Whitney and “island maidens” -- Susan Lee and Abbey Lee (not related) and Sonoma Valley High School students Mariana Garcia and Sofia Williams—delighted the crowd as they sang and danced  “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outa My Hair.”

A rousing performance of Polynesian dancers from Island Breeze entertainment then took over the stage, shaking coconuts and grass skirts.  Defreitas appeared as an intrepid fire dancer, followed by native dancers with swirling fireballs. 

Not a beat was missed as DJ music amped up and the crowd moved its party on to celebrate together on the stage.

La Luz Center envisions a Sonoma Valley community working together where all have equal opportunity to succeed, through support in the areas of health, education and financial security.

The generosity Noche  donors will power this mission.

View full slideshow here

08/12/2014

John Perez Joins La Luz Board

Image 2
John Perez has recently been elected to the La Luz Board.

John and his wife Mary moved to Sonoma from the Seattle area in 2011.  John spent 20 years as a senior executive managing turnaround companies in the healthcare and manufacturing markets.    Earlier in his career, he worked for several successful startups in the healthcare industry as a software developer, software architect and product line executive.    John studied architecture and music at the Catholic University of America and enjoyed a peripatetic upbringing as a military dependent, moving around the world and attending 12 different schools before graduating high school.   John currently divides his time between tennis, playing classical guitar and doing community service.  John has served on the Quality Committee for Sonoma Valley Hospital and is currently an active member of Rotary.  

Perez says, “As a second generation Mexican-American I am a direct beneficiary of the opportunities that this country offers immigrants to achieve their dreams.    I am very aware that without the many helping hands opening doors for me as I have gone through life, I might not have had access to these opportunities.   I hope by working with the La Luz Board and staff that I might be able to open some doors for others.”

 

07/21/2014

Anna Pier Named Chairman of the Board of Directors of La Luz Center

ImageAnna Pier has been named Chairman of the Board of Directors of La Luz Center, replacing Claudia Mendoza-Carruth who served as Chairman for the past two years.

Pier has been on the board since 2009, and serves on Program, Strategic Planning, and the Noche fundraiser committees.

“I feel privileged to have this opportunity to lead the board of La Luz at this important juncture in our development,” Pier said. “Guided by Ligia Booker’s founding efforts, La Luz has always been committed to addressing the needs of the underserved in the Sonoma Valley. At this moment in time, we at La Luz have the chance to lead the underserved to a different status — to that place where they can participate in shaping a new future for themselves and their families.”

A bilingual teacher and community educator, Pier taught Spanish at St. Francis Solano School and The Young Montessori School. After obtaining a bilingual teaching credential, she taught first grade at Flowery School and was instrumental in founding the dual immersion program. Subsequently she taught at Novato and then Woodland Star Charter School.

Pier served as Director of Educational Programs for the CommonBond Foundation, where she organized summer English and Spanish camps for children, after-school language and homework support programs, and ESL and Spanish classes for adults in Sonoma Valley.

From 2010 –12 she produced a popular weekly Spanish-language interview and news program on KSVY TV, “La Ventana del Valle.” She currently teaches Spanish for adults.

She led the Sonoma Nonprofit Collaborative’s youth advocacy forums and served as their representative to the committee on youth resources. She has been a community representative to DELAC for many years. She is a past advisor and member of the Board of Directors of Nuestra Voz, and a sponsor of Sonoma’s local Ballet Folklórico, Quetzalén.

Pier was born and raised in West Virginia, received a B.A in English from Wellesley College, an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College, and pursued doctoral studies in Romance Languages at UC Berkeley. She was a teaching associate at Berkeley and she taught at Vassar College.

Anna Pier and her husband Will, a local ecologist, have lived in Sonoma County for the 44 years of their marriage, including the past 23 years in the Valley. They are the parents of six children and three grandchildren. Anna, for a time a professional baker, is a lifelong knitter, amateur calligrapher and gardener, and has a dedicated yoga practice.

05/24/2014

Lisa Nevins Elected to La Luz Center’s Board

Image 9La Luz Center is pleased to announce the election of Lisa Nevins to its Board of Directors.  She joined the board in April.   

Nevins has over 25 years’ experience in sales management and strategy development. She had key roles at Levi Strauss & Co. in Sales and Marketing Management,  Adidas, where she was General Manager for the Western region, and ultimately as Vice President at the Walt Disney Company, Consumer Products Division.  At Disney she managed business relations and sales for all Disney licensed products in apparel, footwear, home décor accessories, toys and electronics.

“I have a passion for using creativity when building a business or leading a team—it’s the best way to inspire and bring people together towards one goal,” says Nevins. “I am excited to bring these skills to La Luz.”

“We are lucky to have Lisa, who has already been hard at work with us on our strategic plan process, “ says La Luz Board Chair Anna Pier. “Her strategic planning talents and team-building experience are invaluable assets for our organization.” 

Lisa and her husband Bert moved to Sonoma three years ago when she retired and began an online home décor business featuring her own hand made products.  She is an avid athlete, loves to travel and is a Mentor for the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance.

05/21/2014

Over 100 Tax Returns Filed at La Luz

La Luz Center’s free tax preparation service was a big success this year.  Total refunds returned to the community top $140,000.

 La Luz’s tax help, staffed by volunteers, is part of the “Earn it! Keep It! Save It!” program (EKS) for low-income people funded by the IRS. La Luz is part of a coalition of EKS tax services that was formed by United Way.

“The tax assistance program is part of a new element in our strategic plan to promote economic security in our community,” said La Luz’s executive director, Juan Hernandez.

 "This is a great money-saving resource for the Sonoma Valley community,” remarked Ryan Janos, one of the program’s volunteers. “For many of our clients, a tax refund has a big effect on their annual budget, and the money they save by using free income tax preparation is substantial."

 The tax help program also provides advice on saving and managing finances and  assistance enrolment in programs like CalFresh for food assistance and Covered CA for healthcare.

05/19/2014

Thanks for a Great Cinco de Mayo!

Image 8

Over 300 people spent a lovely afternoon celebrating  “Cinco de Mayo” at La Luz Center this year.

A highlight of the event was fiery Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez along with our local Rep. Mike Thompson discussing with the attendees the importance of getting the stalled immigration reform bill passed.  

Entertainment was provided throughout the afternoon, including the Mexican folklore dance company Quetzalen and the Brazilian group Capoeira Mandinga, whose performance combines dance, martial arts and acrobatics. There was classical guitar music with accompanying vocalist from Arnulfo on Strings, and  DJ music.

Many Sonoma Valley businesses donated food and typical Mexican drinks for the party.   Again this year there was the popular “jumpy” castle for the children, and a raffle.

Volunteers are the backbone of an event like this.  There were 35 volunteers assisting throughout the day with set-up, cleanup, food serving and raffle ticket sales. 

This year's "Cinco" featured tables by local businesses and organizations which are working to promote economic development in the Springs area.

“I can’t imagine a better Cinco de Mayo celebration, right here in our neighborhood,” said La Luz Executive Director Juan Hernandez. We couldn’t do this without our incredibly dedicated volunteers.  And the support of all the local businesses really showed the heart of the Springs.”

This “hometown” Cinco de Mayo celebration was organized by community members, Sonoma Valley High School students, businesses primarily in the Springs area, and volunteers.

Image 7

04/10/2014

Westamerica Bank Supports Noche en South Pacific!

La luz donation
Westamerica Bank's Assistant Vice President Lisa Deffenbaugh and La Luz board member Paco Villasenor, Vice President, Financial Sales, recently came to La Luz Center to present a generous $2,500 check to help underwrite expenses for "Noche en South Pacific," our August 2nd fundraiser to be held at Cline Winery.

"This is a big step towards reaching our goal of getting the entire event underwritten in advance, so that all proceeds from August 2nd go to support La Luz's programs," said event chair Marcelo Defreitas.

Spread the word!

17560 Greger Street

Sonoma, CA 95476

707-938-5131

Mon-Thu 9am-5pm

Fri 9am-4pm