5 posts categorized "Leadership"


1st Anniversary-Fundraising Party for "Líderes Campesinas"

On Saturday, Jul 21, from 4 to 9 PM, Líderes Campesinas will be celebrating the first anniversary of its first chapter in Northern California.  The party will include live music for dancing from Showcase the Band, as well as food and beverages from Los Three Chiles. The cost is $30, and all proceeds benefit Líderes Campesinas.  The party is in La Luz’s Booker Hall.  Call 938-3151 to sign up. 



Sonomanews.com: Learning to cook and eat healthy

CHELENE LOPEZ goes over materials with the students of "Tu Corazón, Tu Vida (Your Heart, Your Life)" in preparation for their final exam Monday.

Source: Sonomanews.com

CreditEmily Charrier-Botts

On Monday evening, 19 students sat down for a home-cooked meal at La Luz, but this meal was missing something significant - namely salt, fat and oil.

The students had just graduated "Tu Corazón, Tu Vida (Your Heart, Your Life)," an 11-week series of classes offered at La Luz by the St. Joseph's Health System, which teaches everything from the importance of proper diet and exercise to how to shop healthfully on a budget and get kids excited about fruits and vegetables - all in Spanish.

"It's all from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, it's their curriculum," said Montse Khoury of St. Joseph's. "We love that it's all really hands on."

For example, the students made veins so they could see exactly how plaque builds up, causing the blockages that lead to heart disease.

In one session, students learned how to get up and move with a Zumba class. During another class, they got to see exactly how much fat goes into one hot dog.

"One of the students came up to me and said 'I don't think I'll ever eat a hot dog again.' He didn't realize what he was eating," Khoury said.

The goal of the series is more than just teaching La Luz clients how to take better care of their health. The course is designed so that recent graduates return as "Promotores de Salud (Health Promoters)" during the next series of classes to teach a new crop of students. The graduates are also encouraged to share their knowledge with friends and family, spreading awareness about the importance of heart health.

"The mission is to train people to disseminate the message," Khoury said.

On Monday, La Luz graduated its third class of students, and plans to offer the series again starting in September.

For Denia Olei, a graduate of the first session who returned to teach as a health promoter, she said the experience was eye-opening.

"Your whole life, you make food with too much oil, too much salt. When you come here, you change your life," she said, adding that she joined to better learn how to manage her diabetes, and has found the cooking tips particularly useful. "You get these little ideas and you can bring them to your home. It has no fat, but it has the same taste."

 Olei said one of the most practical pieces of information she learned was how to read a nutrition label and understand what different nutrients do to the body.

While more and more foods offer nutrition information in Spanish and English, Olei said it was helpful to know the labels all generally list the information in the same order, allowing her to quickly zero in on sodium levels and fat contents.

"We didn't have any idea what trans-fat is before (this class)," she said.

La Luz and St. Joseph's partnered to develop the program last year in an effort to better educate the Hispanic population about heart health. According to the California Diabetes Program, Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as Caucasians, and those with diabetes are at a much higher risk for heart disease.

"We really focus on diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues that impact the heart," Khoury said.

Kara Reyes, director of family services at La Luz, said the organization is doing what it can to make the class as accessible as possible to their clients, such as offering childcare and hosting it after work hours. She said the class has been popular with both men and women, which is rare.

"In our other nutrition class, it's 100 percent women," she said.  

During Monday's class, students took their final exam before feasting on a dinner of favorite foods made with a heart healthy twist, such as ceviche with soy. After they received certificates of completion, the students also got a graduation present from Whole Foods that includes measuring cups and gift certificates.

"A lot of the participants have never been able to afford organic foods. It's big for them to learn about pesticides," Reyes said.

To learn more about "Tu Corazón, Tu Vida" or any of the other programs available at La Luz, visit laluzcenter.org or call 938-5131.

Source: Sonomanews.com

CreditEmily Charrier-Botts



Felipa and Julian Puente are La Luz's Volunteers of the Year!

¡Felicidades a Felipa y Julian Puente, nuestros Voluntarios del Año!


Congratulations to Felipa and Julian Puente, our Volunteers of the Year!  This award goes to the volunteer (or, in this case, volunteers) who show outstanding commitment to La Luz Center.  Fely and Julian came to La Luz last summer and have been indispensable volunteers ever since.  Both have worked at our front desk, directing clients and answering phones.  Julian and Fely have also both filled in for us as the childcare provider when our staff member was out sick (the kids love them!).

Julian has helped with various projects around the office, lending us his expertise in construction and other areas.  Julian was also a volunteer for La Luz as we participated in the Sonoma Valley Homeless Count, where he got up early in the mornings to count and survey the Valley's homeless.

Fely has become a real leader in the La Luz community.  She is a member of Poder Popular (a grassroots nonprofit that surveys the health needs of the community) and the Sonoma Valley chapter of Líderes Campesinas (a state-wide organization that raises awareness of the issues faced by female farmworkers and residents of rural areas).  Moreover, Fely was trained in the Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence curriculum, and now volunteers as the teacher of the ACT class at La Luz Center.

Besides all of these amazing contributions to La Luz, both Felipa and Julian bring smiles to the faces of everyone they come into contact with.  Greeting the staff with a hug, sharing baked goods, and emitting a wonderfully positive attitude, they are such an asset to our team.  We couldn't imagine an office without them.

¡Gracias, Julian y Fely, por todo lo que hacen para nosotros y nuestra comunidad!


Successful Celebration for La Copa Cesar Chavez

IMG_4256La Luz Center, a modest pair of buildings on Greger Street in Boyes Hot Springs is the venue for Friday health and food services, English classes,counseling and referrals to assist and empower lowincome residents. But on Sunday, March 27, La Luz was jam-packed and in full party mode. A  crowd of well over 200 celebrants came to honor the Copa César Chavez soccer players and the first graduates of La Luz's Tu Corazon, Tu Vida (Your Heart, Your Life) nutrition and cooking class.

Teams of young, fit players and their families feasted on delicious rice, beans, and green salad prepared by the graduating members of Tu Corazon, Tu Vida and BBQ chicken prepared by Brown Baggers Elizabeth Kemp and Sharon Delaney, both La Luz board members. The food disappeared in a flash, as the crowd was easily double in numbers what was expected, according to organizer Mario Castillo. After the meal, the brightly decorated tables were whisked away to make room for party-goers enjoying the music of "Los Diferentes del Ritmo"  a five piece band directed by Laretta Carr playing tropical music on the stage. Ballet folklórico dancers "Quetzalem” in full costume then delighted the crowd with traditional dances and music from Jalisco, Michoacan, and Nayarit.

At the awards ceremony, all the soccer players were recognized for their participation with medals, and trophies were awarded for 1st & 2nd place. EnriqueVineyard Management, first place champions, received their large trophy from Vineyard Worker Services' much loved longtime supporter Elizabeth Kemp, while St Francis Vineyard management was awarded 2nd place. Enterprise Vineyard came in third and Carneros Management was in fourth place.  The Enrique team, all young men from Michoacan, Mexico have been playingtogether for 8 years. While they have often made the finals in their league, this is their first trophy.

"Today we come together to celebrate the life and thelegacy of the great leader César Chavez,” said La Luz organizer Mario Castillo. “Today we also celebrate the first ever César Chavez Soccer Cup and the labors of the many vineyard workers who contribute so much to the economy of our community. We can only award first place to one team, but we are all winners because we are all here celebrating our common heritage together.”

Recent graduates of Tu Corazón, Tu Vida were recognized, upcoming classes were announced, and plans are already being made for next year’s tournament and party—next time with abundant food!


La Luz Hosts First Líderes Campesinas Conference in Sonoma Valley!

Lideres5 On February 5, 2011, La Luz hosted the first ever conference of Líderes Campesinas in the Sonoma Valley, bringing together community members, organizers, and professionals to discuss the pressing issue of domestic violence.

Women from our community met with various organizations and agencies that address domestic violence in its many forms.  Representatives from the Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department, YWCA, Catholic Charities Immigration, and La Luz Center, as well as Dr. Joaquín Gallardo, were among the presenters.  This conference highlighted the importance of recognizing and combating the problem of domestic violence in farmworker communities.  Beyond disseminating information, however, the conference also provided resources and outlined possible solutions, empowering all attendees to apply what they learned to tangible strategies for change.

Líderes Campesinas is a statewide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to developing leadership among female farmworkers (or campesinas), thus equipping them to serve as agents of political, social, and economic change in their communities.  In January of this year, La Luz and its Poder Popular program partnered with Líderes Campesinas to form the Sonoma Valley Chapter of the organization.  The formation of this chapter unites Sonoma Valley with the twelve other chapters across California in an effort to improve conditions for campesinas and their communities.

Promoting capacity building, democratic decision-making, advocacy, peer-training, and leadership development, Líderes Campesinas gives women the tools they need to make significant change in rural California.  The organization uses both traditional and innovative approaches to mobilization.  Líderes Campesinas employs strategies ranging from holding house meetings to spark and sustain grassroots campaigns to catalyzing change beginning with visual and performing arts as a means of political, social, and personal expression.

To learn more about Líderes Campesinas, or to view the programs offered by other chapters, please visit www.liderescampesinas.org.

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Sonoma, CA 95476


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