Annual Letter from Elece

Watching you grow 

And going through the changes in your life 

      That’s how I know, I’ll always wanna be there 

Whenever you feel you need a friend to lean on, here I am 

Whenever you call, you know I’ll be there 

Olivia Newton John 


November 2023

We have so much to celebrate as we head into 50 years of Petaluma People Services Center.

Oh, I had some fun with this letter going back to songs that were in the Top 40 in 1974, when Petaluma People Services Center (PPSC) became the premier human services provider in Petaluma. In finding “Let Me Be There”, I can’t help but imagine that our original founders may of found themselves humming along with Olivia Newton John. Whenever you feel you need a friend to lean on, here I am. Whenever you call, you know I”ll be there.” I wonder if the founders imagined that the Agency they were developing would serve over 44,000 people in 2023.

Because we always want to be there, PPSC has, along with our community, experienced an overwhelming need for our programming. There is a heartbreaking uncertainty and fear in the community about where the next fifty years of serving the community will take us. Let me change whatever’s wrong and make it right, I can tell you that PPSC is truly a reflection of the community’s needs. Our Board, staff and volunteers have proven again this year that they are committed to answering the call from our seniors, families, and youth. This dedicated group has not missed a day of service; we have expanded our programs and served a record number of clients this year. The question in my mind is how is PPSC going to hold the safety-net for our community together under this ongoing stress and sadness that we see in our community today? How are we going to always be there?

Our neighbors are experiencing a tremendous amount of loss and trauma. I typically use this letter to share our community successes, and we are proud of what we’ve accomplished, but this year we really want to focus on the need. Because I believe you are someone who wants to help, I am asking you to enable PPSC to cast a wider safety-net. The faces of those who are struggling are familiar. They are our children, grandparents, neighbors and maybe us, as well. In years past, their lives were full, and their dreams and aspirations unlimited. We count on the support of the community to continue all our programs. Our core services include our Aging Well Together Programs, serving our residents 60 and older, Counseling & Prevention, Youth Programs, including Mentor Me, Housing and Homelessness Prevention, Economic Sustainability and our Petaluma Bounty Farm.

We have had periods of growth at this Agency in the past, but nothing like what we have seen in the last four years. Mentor Me has expanded the number of youth we serve and the number of educators and families we support. Our Meals On Wheels program now serves over 10,000 meals a month! The SAFE Team (Specialized Assistance For Everyone) supports the community in Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sonoma State University and San Rafael, and they have responded to over 12,000 calls for mental health assistance in the two and a half years since they began. Thousands of families of renters were able to stay in their homes through the pandemic because of our homeless prevention program. As we continue to stretch the safety-net, we continue to find more needs to address.

When PPSC began providing services in 1974, the mission was simple. It remains simple: people helping people. You probably know someone who has benefited from our services. Your donation of $100 will help to feed a senior for a full week or help two at-risk youth to get much-needed counseling or will ensure a youth has a Mentor. But honestly, any amount you can give will help.

PPSC has been the safety-net for thousands of southern Sonoma County residents for fifty years. This safety-net catches the young, the old, the unemployed, the homeless, victims of abuse and just about everyone else looking for a hand up. During these times, an unprecedented number of our community members need PPSC’s help. We ask for your donation so that together we can provide that help.

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 am personally asking for your help, the song reminds us “whenever you call I will be there”. We all need the support that PPSC brings to our community.

The calls keep coming. The need keeps growing. There will be more heartache; and hopefulness too. There will be more people who need PPSC’s help. As we head into our 50th year, PPSC can continue to rise to the challenge with your support.


It is all about Community,

 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; we belong to each other.

Petaluma People Services Center is dedicated to improving the social and economic health of our community by providing programs that strengthen the dignity and self-sufficiency of the individual.

Petaluma People Services Center is dedicated to improving the social and economic health of our community by providing programs that strengthen the dignity and self-sufficiency of the individual.