Working in partnership with Rebuilding Together Petaluma, more than 50 Marin-Sonoma volunteers gathered in Petaluma as part of Kaiser Permanente’s 14th annual MLK Day of Service.
Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to community health includes addressing the underlying social circumstances that influence it, such as homelessness. That’s why this year’s volunteer efforts focused on Petaluma People Services Center (PPSC) and the Kids First Emergency family shelter at the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS).
“As a nonprofit, we are often so focused on the work, and struggling to survive, that we neglect self-care,” said PPSC Executive Director Elece Hempel. “Projects like this one are so appreciated! It allows us to continue to do what we do, to care for the community.”
PPSC is dedicated to improving the social and economic health of the community through counseling and support services, including those aiding seniors, the unemployed, and people without a place to live. One of PPSC’s programs, Petaluma Bounty, is the current recipient of a KP Community Benefit grant.
COTS offers assistance with case management, income development, counseling, and housing searches. KP sponsors COTS’ annual breakfast fundraiser and helps fund the Petaluma Sober Circle.
“We couldn’t ask for a better, more responsive partner,” COTS CEO Mike Johnson said.
On KP’s MLK Day of Service, more than 1,500 KP physicians and employees gave back about 10,000 hours to serve communities at 22 sites across Northern California. In Petaluma, KP volunteers – including family members, retirees, and members of the Teen Advisory Council – pitched in with painting, landscaping, flooring work, and cleaning.
Rebuilding Together, which organized the Petaluma volunteer effort, repairs about 60 homes and the facilities of several nonprofits each year.
Executive Director Jane Hamilton sees such projects as a win-win for everyone involved. “For the companies that participate, volunteering allows colleagues to work together for the first time or in a new way,” she said. “For the nonprofits, it shows the organizations how much they’re appreciated by the whole community.”