Dear Friends,

I can’t believe it is that time of the year; where I sit down and write a letter to you and share the work we have done. Honestly it has been a year of change, hope, sadness and trauma. Petaluma People Services Center employees and volunteers spend day after day working with our clients who live we these emotions; for some they live with all of these emotions daily. Ed Sheeran’s words ring true this year “I’m thinking out loud, but maybe we found love right where we are”.

As the director of PPSC, it isn’t always uplifting, life-changing work we do; most of it is hard and challenging work, where if we are successful, we are helping our clients break the cycle of poverty. But we do it all with love in our heart, meeting our clients where they are.

Love is where we are:

  • when senior gets a visit from a volunteer also delivering a hot meal, 365 days a year,
  • when family is able to visit our Bounty Farm and not only learn to grow vegetables on their own, they get to take a bag of fresh food home for dinner,
  • when a child who has been traumatized is able to find a place at PPSC to feel safe,
  • when a young man who dropped out of school is now earning a good wage and working on securing his high school diploma….
  • For 46 years, PPSC has been helping people find what they need. No one chooses to age. No one chooses to lose their job or their home. No one chooses to struggle with health or family issues. If we become frail and want to stay in our home, or need employment help or counseling, we know that the services that PPSC provides will be here for us. When PPSC began providing services the mission was simple and remains simple: “people helping people.”

….“I’m thinking out loud, but maybe we found love right where we are”.

It is simple but powerful. People cannot feel hope or dignity if they are hungry or lonely. Food and friends are how people can maintain hope and strength to take the next steps to empower themselves. Many of our neighbors are in trouble. Families across Petaluma are finding themselves in crisis. Rapid increases in the cost of food, utilities and rent are presenting a triple threat to the well being of many senior citizens and families. These challenges are not limited to the chronically unemployed. All too frequently, employed middle class families are falling victim to increasing expenses and limited income opportunities. These are our neighbors. They may easily be our grandparents, parents, siblings and children. They are often senior citizens, living on a fixed income; being forced to make hard choices among necessities like medication, heat for their home or food. Even some families where the wage earners work multiple jobs are finding it’s just not enough to

cover basic expenses. Remember that every dollar you give reminds those we serve that love can be found right where they are.

When you reach out your hand to one, you can influence the condition of all. We need your help, so we can make sure that no one is turned away. In fact, your donations fund over 59 programs to support people in breaking the cycles of poverty and dependency. By supporting one another we can empower individuals to help them face problems and handle their lives. It is important that we as a community come together to make sure a senior will not have to decide between filling their prescription or having enough food to eat, or that a young mother will not be forced to live in a home where she and her children are not safe, or that a youngster who is looking for attention and a sense of belonging will not be forced to find harmful activities.

Because I believe you are someone who wants to help, I am asking you today to help PPSC to cast a wider safety-net. Their faces are familiar. They are our mothers and fathers, grandparents and maybe even us. In years past, their lives were full, and their dreams and aspirations unlimited. You may already be familiar with our successful Meals on Wheels program that, with the enormous help of our volunteers, served more than 46,000 meals and kept the dreams alive last year for many of our frail elders in Petaluma. Without this program, it would not be possible for many seniors to remain independent in their homes. We count on the support of the community to continue all our programs. Our core services include Senior Services, Counseling & Prevention, Housing, Employment and Petaluma Bounty Farms. 

You probably know someone who has benefited from our services. Your donation of $75 will help to feed a senior for a full week, while $300 will help to provide meals and companionship for a full month. Your donation of $80 will help three at-risk youth to get much-needed counseling. For seniors in peril of being shut off from the world, or a youth looking for guidance, these are more than just “programs,” these are reflections of your support for the concept of togetherness.

You have opportunities each and every day to reach out to those less fortunate. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by. If you have supported our programs before, we are deeply grateful for your continued support. If you are a first-time donor, we welcome you as a new friend. Your investment will make a big difference in the quality of life for your neighbors. It is a simple act of kindness and compassion. “I’m just thinking out loud, help us continue to find love right where we are”.

It is all about Community, and love too…

 -Elece Hempel 

Elece Hempel, Executive Director

P.S. When you make your gift, we hope you’ll consider making an on-going monthly contribution. We believe with all our heart that the daily goal of PPSC should be to recognize that we all belong together hand in hand; providing love right where we are!