Students in each of the five TLT classes spent a September day exploring the disparities in human needs in our county, and the organizations that are helping to meet those needs.

Elece Hempel, of Petaluma People Services Center, organized and hosted the South Class Day which included Mentor Me, Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), the Senior Center, Petaluma Bounty Farm, and Petaluma Police Department’s Community Policing team.

SAY’s very own Toni Abraham, Katie Haberman, and Xochil Pulido showed that we are all in it together by welcoming the two Santa Rosa classes to the Sunflower Garden and giving a great overview of SAY’s work. Santa Rosa TLT students also heard from the Sonoma County Human Services Department about the Portrait of Sonoma County, visited Catholic Charities, Redwood Gospel Mission, and the Redwood Empire Food Bank where they helped sort and pack thousands of pounds of donated food.

Our West Class visited the Graton Day Labor Center, Food for Thought, and West County Community Services’ Russian River Empowerment Center, the Guerneville Senior Center, and talked with a homeless man on the Guerneville Bridge as part of their exploration of homeless issues.

The North Class also learned about the Portrait of Sonoma County and the Humane Society’s work, heard from formerly homeless youth who now lives at SAY’s Tamayo Village, had “tea” with seniors active in the Healdsburg Senior Center and ended at the Redwood Empire Food Bank for the “Hunger 101” simulation and bagging of produce.

See more pictures of our days on the TLT Facebook Page.

In the students’ own words…

“My favorite part about Human Services Day was that every presenter was really passionate about their job. They really loved what they were doing and it was really inspiring to me. My absolute favorite part was bagging apples because through the whole process I was thinking of how many people we were helping just by placing apples in a bag.” -Arely Salinas

“Going into the Human Services Day, I expected to meet the type of homeless people seen screaming and holding moldy cardboard signs in the middle of the street. I was dead wrong. We saw and learned about families that were put onto the street not because they were addicted to drugs or alcohol, but simply because they didn’t have enough money to get by. After learning about the enormous amount of young children in the Catholic Charities, my perspective did a complete 180. I now have a completely different mindset when it comes to people who are homeless, a more sympathetic and understanding view.” – Zachary Butler

“I had always thought the homeless and hungry didn’t have many resources or help from communities. It was an assumption that these people suffered in silence, especially the homeless. I had always been told to not give any money to people who held up signs on the streets because they’ll just use it to buy booze and drugs. I know now that not all are like that, and genuinely ask for help. This occurred to me after hearing some of the stories from the men at the Redwood Gospel Mission when they spoke of wanting to get a direction in life. These people changed for the better because they knew the life they lived would’ve killed them.”               – Shania Hamid