COTS Needs Help

It’s all hands on deck at the Mary Isaak Center while we welcome evacuees to use services at our shelter. Many thanks to the volunteers who have stepped up to help. Many thanks to our residents who have been kind and helpful to everyone who’s come through our doors.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this post.

Evacuees are welcome to use the Mary Isaak Center, 900 Hopper Street, Petaluma for showers, laundry, meals and phone charging. All services are free.

Showers and laundry services are available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Our washing machines are few, so you may have a wait.

Meal hours:
Breakfast: 7:30 to 9 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dinner: 5 and 6 p.m.

Community members, we would be very grateful for the following:

• Towels and wash cloths
• Shampoo, body wash
• Bedding/sleeping bags
• Laundry detergent
• Toilet paper
• N95 masks

If you’re a regular COTS volunteer, we could use your help coordinating laundry and showers. Please get in touch with the front desk: 707-765-6530 x120.

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September is National Preparedness Month

Preparedness Resources – Emergency and disaster preparedness information from the Department of Homeland Security – Sonoma County emergency and preparedness information – California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website – CAL FIRE’s wildfire preparedness website – California’s Fire Safe Council Website – PG&E’s website on what to do before, during, and after a wildfire – PG&E’s website on how to prepare for Planned Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) events
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts
Nixle: Text your zip code to 888777 or sign up online at
SocoAlert: Visit

(thanks fro the city of Sebastopol for this information)

2019 Disaster Relief Fund for Animal Rescues

Flat Broke Farm Animal Rescue Inc. rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes unwanted, abandoned, abused, neglected or displaced farm animals in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. They provide a healthy, secure and caring living environment, while providing first-class medical care and community training. They also offer emergency evacuation services, veterinary care support, short and long term boarding during and after natural disasters.

What is Flat Broke Farm doing to help animals in the Kincade fire?  Erica Rushing, founder of the farm reports in this News Article  on ABC7:

“…Doing welfare checks on the animals forced to be left behind making sure they have food and water and aren’t suffering from any respiratory concerns,” Erica Rushing, Flat Broke Farm’s founder explained the group’s mission. “Evacuating animals under emergency circumstances in the wee hours of the night. To maintaining the ones, we have already taken in to make sure they are happy and healthy where they are located,” Rushing continued. Flat Broke Farms will take in any animal that needs help. “

We are asking the community for greatly needed funds to support Flat Broke Farm Animal Rescue so that we may continue to be vigilant in helping animals and their families, as we have done for 15 years!

Any donation will help this incredible organization continue our life saving efforts during disasters.

Learn more at:

Flat Broke Farm Animal Rescue Inc.
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.

Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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Petaluma Spiritual Needs Survey

Are you interested in exploring spiritual community for yourself or your family, but haven’t found quite the right fit? The modern church is in a time of change and evolution, and St. John’s in downtown Petaluma is reaching out to the community to better understand your spiritual needs and values. Beyond the basic Sunday services, St. John’s currently hosts circle dancing, labyrinth walks, and services of poetry and song, and is considering expanding family-friendly and more inclusive offerings. If you are interested in being part of this conversation, I’d encourage you fill out the survey, and please add your comments.

Help Young Children Become Confident and Competent

Recently I noticed some new behavior (involving control issues) for Suzy (3 years old). I invited Mom to meet for a “fact finding” conference. The following is what we learned.

It all started when Suzy announced one day at lunch “I like these eggs. I won’t eat eggs at home”. Mom had previously mentioned to me that she thought Suzy wasn’t eating enough at home. I assured her that she ate fine at school. A red light went off for me. Was Suzy using food as a means of gaining control at home?

Also I noticed that Suzy had become the new leader in her small circle of friends. Well, she was actually more like a dictator -and not a very benevolent one, either! Another red light.

Then, during a recent medical exam, an x-ray showed a partial bowel blockage. Could this be more control?

I asked Mom if there were any changes at home. In fact there were some major changes. For example, Mom had been referring to Suzy as the baby. When Mom asked older brother to do something for Suzy, Suzy retorted: “Mom, I am not a baby”. After some discussion, Mom admitted that since Suzy is the last child, she has been holding onto the baby aspect. Good for Mom. Not good for Suzy. It’s always a good idea to visit the sibling relationship. We talked about her 5-year old brother. Seems that brother is routinely chosen to perform various chores around the house. Brother also exerts strict control over his room and possessions. Red lights are flashing all over the place now.

Of all the child development psychologists, I like the theory of Erik Erickson. He looks at development in stages and believes that each stage has a “crisis” to be resolved before a child can successfully move to the next stage. From 0 to 18 months, the crisis is trust vs. mistrust. This is when the child learns/determines that his world is a safe or unsafe place, based on whether his needs are being met. From 18 months to 3 years (approximately), the crisis is autonomy/independence vs. doubt. This is the time for children to test, to exert control, and begin to feel a sense of independence. This is good. If this doesn’t happen, the child will doubt their abilities, and perhaps seek control in negative ways – or worse yet, maybe be too repressed to do either. This is bad.

Our job is to create situations where children can gain some control, independence and self-esteem in positive ways. We need to steer them. How? We could begin by giving them small choices, e.g. “Do you want to wear the red or blue shirt?” Instead of telling what to do, ask questions and let the child think and make a decision e.g. “What will happen if your glass is near the edge of the table?” or “What do you think will happen to your book if you leave it where people will be walking?” And don’t forget jobs. What a wonderful way to feel responsible and proud! Children are so capable – if we give them the opportunity. Children can sort silverware in the dishwasher or drawers; they can sort laundry, especially their own clothes; fold washcloths; they can sweep with a dustpan and brush or small broom; sponge the table, etc., etc.

Developing these skills will take a little time; and just when you have nearly reached perfection, it will be time for the next “crisis”. Oh no!

If you have questions or comments about this issue – or any others, please email me at

Carolynn DiGiuseppi is a certified Montessori teacher with a Site Supervisor Permit and a Master Teacher’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. With over 35 years of experience caring for children, she is the Director of Carolynn’s Montessori for Toddlers in Petaluma.

Op-Ed: To Make Housing Affordable Raise Wages

Press Democrat

Friday, March 22, 2019

To Make Housing Affordable Raise Wages

By Martin J. Bennett

The rental-housing crisis in Sonoma County is close to catastrophe. Rents spiked by 50 percent from 2011 to 2016, then immediately soared by 35 percent after the October 2017 Tubbs fire—just before Governor Brown ordered a one-year 10 percent cap on rent increases (the Santa Rosa City Council renewed the cap last December). The recent historic Russian River flood forced hundreds of low-income renter families to evacuate, and will certainly intensify the rental crisis.

In 2019 the Press Democrat called Sonoma County “the seventh least affordable market in the United States for a three-bedroom apartment.” Low income families spend more than half their income on rent, with little left for other essentials such as health care, utilities, and food.

The State Department of Finance reports that over the 12-month period ending July 1, 2018, more than 2200 residents left the county. Many low-income renters relocated to more affordable housing markets in Solano, Sacramento, Yolo, and Eastern Contra Costa.

In the 2018 Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey, more than 10,000 county residents self-identified as ‘unstably housed’—many live with family or friends or without a formal lease. Of the county’s 3000 homeless, 72 percent of 500 poll respondents identified “unaffordable rent” as the main reason for their lack of permanent housing.

Building new affordable housing is costly and takes years. Moreover, according to the California Housing Partnership, federal and state funding for affordable housing in Sonoma County has been slashed by $42 million every year since 2008—a reduction of 89 percent. The $6 billion in bonds for affordable housing and homeless services that California voters approved last fall will pay for just a fraction of the 14,600 new affordable rental housing units the county needs to meet current demand.

Simultaneous with climbing rents and reduced funding for affordable housing, wages and incomes have stagnated. A new report by Jobs with Justice, “The State of Working Sonoma,” demonstrates that inflation-adjusted wages remained flat for the bottom 60 percent of the county’s workforce for decades (1979-2016), but wages for the lowest 20 percent dropped by 11 percent. Furthermore, between 2000-2016 median rents jumped by 25 percent, while median renter annual incomes increased by only 9 percent.

Clearly, the fastest way to make rents affordable is to raise the wage floor, and particularly the minimum wage. The current state minimum wage is $12.00 an hour for large employers. In 2016, the state legislature approved raising the minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour for all employers by 2023. However, 25 cities and one county in expensive coastal California have already approved $15 an hour minimum wage laws, which cover most workers employed at least two hours a week inside city’s boundaries.

Amongst these cities are San Francisco, Emeryville, and Berkeley that have mandated $15 an hour by 2018; eight cities in Santa Clara approved $15 by 2019; and four cities in San Mateo, the city and county of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, and Santa Monica approved $15 by 2020. Once the minimum reaches $15, each of these cities requires annual increases based upon the Consumer Price Index.

In the North Bay, the Alliance for A Just Recovery, a coalition that includes every major labor, environmental, and faith based organizations in the county, is proposing legislation to phase-in a $15 an hour citywide minimum wage by 2020 in the cities of Novato, Sebastopol, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Cotati.

Why? Because the rent won’t wait.

According to a UC Berkeley Labor Center report, the proposed minimum wage laws will affect 47,000 low-wage workers in these cities, and by 2020 the average annual incomes of affected workers will increase by $2900. The median age of workers receiving a pay increase is 33; on average, these workers contribute more than half of their family’s income.

Most of the increased earnings of affected low-wage workers will pay rents and buy basic necessities from local businesses. Thus the minimum wage hike will stimulate the regional economy, spur increased business activity, particularly for small business, and create new jobs in response to increased consumer demand.

To make housing affordable, slow the displacement of low and moderate-income families, and close the jobs-housing mismatch that plagues our community, ultimately, all North Bay jurisdictions should adopt a minimum wage higher than the state’s.

Martin Bennett is Instructor Emeritus of History at Santa Rosa Junior College and Co-Chair, North Bay Jobs with Justice.

Petaluma Postcard Pod

We are a group of concerned citizens gathering to write postcards to voters in California and nationwide, encouraging them to vote in upcoming special elections, primaries and ultimately in the 2020 General Election. Join us!


Petaluma Conversations – monthly facilitated conversations

Modeled along the lines of Conversation Cafes we embark this year with a series of conversations that may be hard.  We use a method that enables everyone to speak and for everyone to be heard.

TO RSVP, please email: Lou Zweier at


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