La Luz Center, the fires, and adaptability

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

La Luz Center has evolved from primarily providing support services for health, financial security and education to an agile organization capable of quickly responding to a range of new client challenges such as Affordable Care Act enrollment, DACA renewal, threats of deportation and new immigration policies.

Adaptability was a powerful resource during the devastating fires that raged throughout Sonoma Valley in October. In a matter of hours, La Luz center mobilized into an ad hoc “hub of a wheel” which, provided:

  • Immediate and continued support to families that completely lost their homes to the fires.
  • 2,000 hot meals to over 500 displaced families.
  • Five tons of food and emergency supplies, including water, clothes, diapers and canned food.
  • More than $190,000 in subsidies and services, based on need.
  • Rent assistance, primarily paid directly to landlords, for nearly 250 families to bridge displacement or income loss.
  • Payments for utilities to nearly 60 families in partnership with FISH.
  • Gift cards to over 500 people for groceries and other essentials.
  • Information and referral services to 1,000+ families impacted by the fires.

This was only during the first three weeks, and it is not over yet.

In many cases, assistance was provided directly from funds raised through the La Luz Fire Relief Fund, which was set up immediately on the website. Depending upon the need, referrals were made to many local partnership organizations such as FISH, Rotary of Sonoma Valley, Redwood Credit Union, St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Redwood, Empire Food Bank, Sonoma Springs Community Hall, local assistance centers, and others.

With the help of generous donors, a strong, professional staff and management that worked long hours, and hundreds of volunteers, La Luz was able to respond to offer immediate relief during and after the fires. The circumstances of the community will change over the next six months. Relief will be followed by Restoration and then Rebuilding. La Luz Center will be there, ready to adapt as needed.

— Winnie Farwell and Dorinda Parker, La Luz Center


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA