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Springs Splash - Thomas Martin - April 2015

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Springs Splash - April 2015

by Tom Martin

El Verano School & La Luz Bilingual Center Receive
Community Development Grants!

School, family, and community are bound together at El Verano School.  Teachers, parents, administrators, and staff work in unison to further the academic achievement of students and parents alike. Parental involvement brings out new leaders. Student health is a centerpiece of the El Verano program. Thus, once a week there are visits from the Community Health Center Mobile Clinic and periodically the St. Joseph Dental Van arrives at the school. 

Helping to make these goals a reality is the S.H. Cowell Foundation of San Francisco. This year Cowell funded a $154,000 grant for El Verano School and a $125,000 grant for the La Luz Bilingual Center.

El Verano Programs

Principal Maite Iturri says teachers, parents, and classified staff at El Verano embody the community school principle. The school is a community center for parents and children alike. Parents are encouraged to come to school and praised for their involvement. Principal Iturri says, “Parents would walk on glass for their children.” Among those parents is Mario Castillo, hired as Parent Engagement Coordinator. Castillo organizes after school programs and classes with parents that are wide ranging like earthquake preparedness, Zumba, computer training, and English. Ms. Anne Case, an Oberlin graduate, heads the after school El Verano orchestra program that is renowned in Sonoma. Parental leadership in school decisions is encouraged at El Verano to help define activities that bring people together. A Family Case Manager was employed for special circumstances.

Community Partnership

Community partnership is complemented by activities at La Luz. At the March monthly Concilio Director Juan Hernandez outlined community involvement programs in which La Luz participates. They include programs for community members such as literacy in Spanish, English as a Second Language, computer skills, personal finances, health and nutrition. 

At the Concilio Hernandez introduced the young La Luz staff whose tasks are to further three central functions: Education, Financial Security, and Health and Wellness. Among this group are Catalina Chavez-Tapia, Eduardo Vasquez, Veronica Vences, Malinalli Lopez, Angela Sanchez, Yuliana Camerena, Adrian Jacinto, Jerardo Martinez, and Susan Somogyi. This bright group of young people each has an area of expertise within the La Luz program. 

A major La Luz endeavor is underway. They are fund raising to build a new Community Services Center at the Greger Street location. At press time the County Planning Commission praised La Luz for its work.

If you live on Riverside Drive along Sonoma Creek
watch for activity along your waterway!  

Congressman Mike Thompson announced in March that a chunk of money ($4.3M) was appropriated to restore river waterways and improve water quality in local streams. Of this sum $991,156 is to be used to improve water quality in Sonoma Creek and the Petaluma River. Assisting in this project will be the Sonoma Ecology Center, County Parks, the City of Sonoma, and the County Water Agency. Watch for people clearing trees and taking water samples in your backyards. Thanks for your help Mike! 

MidPen Gives Plan Update on Affordale Housing  

Housing Representative Najla Gomez Rodriquez provided a brief report on MidPen’s affordable housing plan for property on Highway 12 at the March meeting of the Springs Community Alliance. The property, adjacent to the Sonoma Charter School, is planned for sixty affordable family housing units and 40 senior housing units. The family units will be constructed initially with the senior units a year later. 

The property will be mixed use and include a playground, community garden, family and senior housing, and a commercial center to be developed by the Vailetti family.  

The application process for family units will begin September 2016. Rents will be based upon incomes that are 30-60% of the area’s median income and range between $360-1100 per month.  MidPen will hold community meetings in April and May 2016 about making application. A lottery process will be used to determine the order of applications. Senior housing units are expected to be ready in the Fall 2017. 

People who wish to have their names listed for the projects should call 650-356-2900.