United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay (ucpnb.org) opened a new thrift store to support their programs in Rohnert Park. Called the Flip Side, it is located at 6591 Commerce Blvd. They are open seven days a week. Their hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. Angelica Martinez is the store manager. Their phone number is (707) 843-4501. They aren’t a high-end boutique. Clothing prices generally range from $.99-$7.99 and they have a 50 percent off sale at least once a month. This month it was on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day. These discount days have a theme such as Teacher Appreciation Day or Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, which was on March 25. You can find their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/FlipSideThrift.
The store came to Rohnert Park in September 2020. It was a leap of faith by the organization. Last March their lease was expiring at their site in Fairfield. With the shelter-in-place orders going into place because of COVID-19 they decided to close that location. Many of their programs are in Sonoma County, so they decided to plan and look for an opportunity to open a store here.
UCP of the North Bay serves program participants, who are differently abled, in Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties. According to Christina Isetta, Director of Administration “all of the funds raised at stores are put back into programs.” Their goal was to keep their Fairfield employees and participants working. Half of their employees come from the Fairfield facility, the other half are local, 30 percent of which are students from Sonoma State University. Isetta said the goal for Flip Side was to “have a store that was very welcoming, in order to support our programs.”
UCP of the North Bay’s motto is “Life without limits.” Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for folks with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, their families, and their communities. This 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1981 when UCP of Marin (1954) and UCP of Sonoma (1969) merged. They have a wide variety of programs for participants to include education, employment and recreation. According to Jennifer Whalen, Director of Community Relations, it’s important to “give the opportunity for our participants to educate, recreate, and work towards an independent life.”
In addition to the employment opportunities for participants, they sponsor or co-sponsor several local events for them. In a normal year, they partnered with Sonoma State University for a bike camp “Cycle without Limits” and a bike and swim camp. They had a “Camp Chaos” at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa and an Adult Weekend Event at Camp Arroyo in Livermore, CA. They also do Surf Camp, River Rafting, Kayaking and a Cross Country Ski Camp when possible.
In the Educational Arena, they operate two schools in Petaluma called “Cypress School.” They provide personalized curriculum and learning for children with autism and similar disabilities. It’s a non-public school for children ages 6-22 with special education and behavioral needs that can’t be met within the public or private school system. They have both a primary and secondary school. Forty-one participants are enrolled in the primary school with ages from 6-12, while 31 participants attend the secondary school with ages from 13-22. There are 50 teachers, most efforts being one-on-one or one-to-two student/teacher ratio. They have Speech and other Therapists on-site working with the kids. They are also part of the Santa Rosa Junior College with a program in Adult Education that focuses on life skills such as managing money or obtaining health care. Their programs “serve over 750 adults and children with disabilities” according to Whalen. Additionally, they operate a Senior Center in Raley’s Towne Center next to the City’s Senior Center where their 30 adult participants can access recreational opportunities such as arts and craft, bowling, or other activities to socialize.
In 2019, their annual budget was 23 million dollars. According to Isetta, $.94 of each dollar raised goes directly into programs. Their overhead and administrative costs are purposefully kept low despite employing over 500 folks. In addition to relying on store sales, they rely on donations and fundraising. In 2020 their biggest fund-raising event, the “Wine Country Carnival” in partnership with the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, had to be cancelled. However, they are planning on holding it this year on September 11. To support their programs, you can do so on-line at ucpnb.org or by sending checks to their administrative offices at 1425 N. McDowell Blvd, Suite #115, Petaluma, CA 94954. For Flip Side, your donations of clothes, furniture, or houseware items can be brought to the store. They hope to have other donation sites in the future and occasionally they’ll do a post card campaign to do curbside pick-up of items to be donated.