La Luz Center continues changing lives with its Impact100 Grants


I went into your parenting classes thinking that I was going to learn to change my 5-year-old son’s behavior.  I learned that it is me as a parent that needs to change.             –  Parenting Class Participant

I feel safe.  You helped me make the hardest decision I ever had to make.  Now that he is gone, I can finally breathe.  I can do things on my own.                                                      –  Family Service Client

Messages such as these clearly reveal the positive outcomes from the work of La Luz Center in providing vital services to the local community.  In 2012, the Center was the recipient of the $100,000 Impact Grant, and since that time, La Luz has leveraged that grant and forged ahead full speed – broadening its existing array of mental health support services for local families and moving ahead with its planned building expansion.

KaraAccording to Kara Reyes, Director of Programs at La Luz Center,  $75,000 from the Impact Grant has enabled the organization to implement programs that have “…fundamentally changed the lives of individuals and families in our community.”

Among the organization’s ongoing vital support programs, the Center used monies to add two new mental health support groups.  They initiated a one-day per week general peer support depression group for adults offered in Spanish and, working in collaboration with Verity, a crisis and support service, La Luz launched a women’s domestic violence peer support group held weekly on its premises in Booker Hall.  Through a partnership with Petaluma People Services and Verity, Sonoma’s low-income families can now benefit from access to one of four bilingual counselors five days a week.  The services are available for individuals, families and groups.

As a result of La Luz Center’s offerings, Sonoma community members needing mental health support currently average one hundred therapy visits per month.  “In Sonoma Valley, very few support services exist,” says Kara.  “Thankfully, however, with the Impact grant, we were able to build a stronger support system for families by doubling the service hours in our family advocacy program.”

Juan HernandezIn addition to the strengthened mental health services, La Luz Center eyes the realization this year of its long-desired expansion and redesigned façade.  Using $25,000 from the Impact Grant allocated for capital improvements, the new design – a sleek addition incorporating existing office spaces – will increase working and counseling space, privacy for clients, and provide increased private access for social service professionals and clients.  Juan Hernandez, Director of La Luz Center, reports that building permits are currently in process for the expansion, hopefully to begin construction in mid to late 2014.

Images below: Director Juan Hernandez welcomes Impact100 members to La Luz Center









In 2013, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley received a Community Grant from Impact100 to work collaboratively with La Luz Center to analyze and strategize ways to counteract the threat of growing gang violence in Sonoma.  To that end, La Luz Center Director Juan Hernandez and Director of Programs Kara Reyes participated in a Planning Meeting for Gang Prevention in October 2013.

Several additional community outreach agencies participated in the meeting in order to attain a broad overview of the situation. They worked to clarify the role of each organization in implementing the eventual collaborative strategy. La Luz Center will continue to play its role as a family advocate.  The safety net that La Luz Center can provide for at-risk families can help deter the social spiral that can lead to gang involvement.

Written by Impact100 member, Pamela Sloane