78 posts categorized "Front Page"


International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA) celebrates the opening of their Sonoma office

Sonoma– The International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA) is expanding its legal immigration services to Sonoma. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the Booker Hall Main Room, 17790 Greger St. Sonoma, CA 95476 on January 20th at 11 AM. A number of local community leaders will be in attendance. The event is open to the public.  

The International Institute of the Bay Area is a nonprofit organization founded in 1918, with the mission of providing high-quality immigration legal services, education, and civic engagement opportunities to immigrants, refugees, and their families as they join and contribute to the community. IIBA’s work helps Bay Area residents gain a more secure future for their families and provides immigrants the information and assistance they need to understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities.

“We are delighted to be joining the Sonoma Community and on January 20th, we will be celebrating the fact that we are a nation of immigrants,” said IIBA’s Executive Director, Ellen Dumesnil. “We know access to reputable and affordable immigration legal services can be life changing and the need for these services is more critical now than ever. We look forward to partnering with the great team at La Luz.”

Last year, IIBA provided legal consultations, eligibility assessments, application assistance and civics classes to over 10,000 immigrants in the Bay Area who hailed from 105 countries.

“La Luz Center quote” (Discussing the need for legal immigration services in Sonoma)

IIBA is pleased to have La Luz Center as a trusted partner and looks forward to providing Sonoma's immigrant community with access to affordable, high quality legal services.

IIBA has offices in San Francisco, Redwood City, Oakland, Antioch, Napa and Fremont. It serves immigrants in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Napa.

For more information, visit www.iibayarea.org.


La Luz Center Opens the Doors for the New Community Services Center

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Links to articles:






La Luz Board member Sal Chavez is first Latino to address Sonoma Valley High School graduation.

Read his uplifting speech. Link below:


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La Luz Salutes Jack London at the 4th of July Parade!

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La Luz celebrates Cinco de Mayo at Sonoma Plaza

Click link below to see a all photos from this event!


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Ground Breaking Excitement at La Luz!


On December 11th we officially kicked off the construction of our new Community Services Center.  Staff, board, donors and press gathered to watch as shovels bit the ground in preparation for the building which will provide privacy and comfort for clients and adequate work space for staff and volunteers.  It will replace a decades-old, inadequate structure.

The construction is expected to be completed within about six months.  The project is being funded by grants and contributions from many generous donors.

The general contractor for the project is Devcon Construction, Inc., and the architectural firm is Bevan & Associates.


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!!

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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.  

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17560 Greger Street

Sonoma, CA 95476


Mon-Thu 9am-5pm

Fri 9am-4pm