September 19, 2021
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CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 9, 2018

California Homemakers Association (CHA) began in 2000 in Sonoma County as an independent all-volunteer, private self-help membership association built by and for domestic workers, in-home care workers, childcare workers, landscapers, temp and seasonal workers and other low-income service workers. CHA is 100 percent volunteer and refuses government funds, building year round an eleven-point free-of-charge benefit program which includes emergency food, clothing, a preventive medical benefit, legal advice and more to deal with immediate survival needs and built by members with support from local merchants, professionals, students, congregations and other concerned community members. At the same time, CHA members learn the leadership skills necessary to advocate for long-term solutions to eradicate the causes of poverty. The CHA must expand to be able to run multiple activities at the same time-often organizing supplemental food distributions, conducting free of charge legal advice sessions and teaching classes on leadership skills and community organizing simultaneously-but are hard pressed to accommodate this level of activity in the current office with less than 800 square feet of useable space, hindering their ability to meet the pressing needs of the community. CHA expanded the membership to include fire victims who have lost their homes, or lost their jobs as domestic workers, in-home care workers or other poorly paid seasonal and service workers. As over 7,000 residents have left this area in the last year due to this disaster, including former homeowners who can’t afford to rebuild, the consumer base has eroded causing even further job loss. The CHA needs support to build stable organization so that the members can count on CHA being there for them in the face of natural disasters. CHA is seeking to purchase an empty lot on which to construct a mixed use building that would allow for 2,500 square feet of office space and a separate residential unit with three bedrooms and a kitchen to provide housing for full-time volunteer organizers including students who commit to full-time volunteer internships for anywhere from a week to ‘Volunteers’  a month or even longer. The fiscal sponsor for this project is Kiwanis Club of Sebastopol foundation which supports the efforts to improving living conditions for low-income families. Each year, CHA holds holiday food basket distributions at Thanksgiving and in December and our Family Holiday Party and toy distributions to parents for their children so participating members can enjoy the holiday season without going further into debt. It’s especially critical this year for the many who have yet to recover from the devastating fires. Through participation of our low-income members with community support from businesses, churches, service clubs, students, housewives and other concerned individuals, CHA’s Holiday Campaign volunteers organize food boxes containing turkeys, hams, chickens and all the fixings for participating low-income families to prepare holiday meals in their homes. Our holiday benefit is part of a year-round budget savings program for participating members to prevent these low-income families from becoming destitute in the wake of the post-holiday seasonal lay-offs. CHA distributes the toys to the parents, so they maintain their dignity and have presents to give to their children. The Holiday Campaign is followed immediately by the Winter Survival Campaign in which volunteers distribute warm winter clothing, coats and blankets and perform Winter Watch check-ins on frail, elderly members. These programs are a seasonal extension of our ongoing self-help benefit program. It is based on members helping other members, while they work to address common problems that exacerbate the poverty conditions. CHA is strictly community-supported and run by an all-volunteer staff. We do not take a dime of government funding. Their Benefit Program works to provide immediate assistance to low-paid works in need. Volunteer dentists participate in many different ways. they examine patients and provide cleanings. In some cases, they also arrange to receive donated materials from local dental labs and follow up care by specialists. The goal is to intervene as early as possible in matters of dental health. This year, more volunteers than ever are needed to help with the upcoming holiday events, including the holiday food basket distributions and a Holiday Party and Toy Distribution, as well as all the preparation needed for these events. Also, you can join with CHA to collect or donate new toys! We anticipate requests of toys for hundreds of children, and we need donations of unwrapped toys for children of all ages, as well as gifts for those aged 8 to 15, to support this effort. We have some collection sites for food and toys established already, but we could always use more. The ones we have set already include: The Brick Hut, 5430 Commerce Blvd., Rohnert Park. Northern California Food and Ankle Center/Office of Dr. Walter D’Costa: 2281 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95403 CHA’s Office Central: 468 Yolanda Ave., Suite 102 Santa Rosa, CA 9540 If you are able to donate new unwrapped toys to support this effort, you may drop them off at any of the above locations. If you are able to host a drop-off location, please inform us, and we will deliver materials for you to receive donations. We also invite you to involve your organization, friends and co-workers in collecting items, as the need is tremendous. Feel free to check in with CHA volunteers to find out the latest needs regarding toys needed for particular ages. Volunteers are needed to sort and deliver food for their upcoming Food Basket Distributions to serve food, decorate and run kids’ games for the part and to sort and distribute toys during the toy distribution. those will take place Nov. 20, at the Sebastopol Grange, 600 Sebastopol Rd., Sebastopol, Dec. 22 at the Cotati City Building, 201 W. Sierra Ave., Cotati and Dec. 23 at the Santa Rosa Druids Hall, 1011 College Ave., Santa Rosa. Also The Community Voice will be a drop off point for toys or food located at 100 Professional Center Dr., Rohnert Park. This site is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering or want further information about CHA’s year-round program, please call Scott at CHA at (707) 591-9573 for details.