By Georgia Berland

The Task Force is proud to have Luther Burbank Savings receive the 2012 Marijke Byck Spirit of Community Award at our October in Paradise event on October 4th. This award is given to a community person or organization that has made extraordinary contributions to ending homelessness or assisting people who’ve lost their homes. It’s named for our late Board member Marijke Byck, who often said it takes the whole community to end homelessness.

Luther Burbank Savings took a groundbreaking step – a first in our community – facilitated by the Task Force, donating a foreclosed two-acre property with a home to nonprofit Community Housing Sonoma County to develop up to six Permanent Supportive Homes for homeless people with disabilities. Luther Burbank Savings showed courage and vision, and proved to be innovative, collaborative, and dedicated to helping our community. Permanent homes for people living on low fixed incomes like Social Security Disability are desperately needed in Sonoma County, where shelters are overflowing and three quarters of our homeless residents must sleep outside. Permanent Supportive Housing includes services to assure that residents maintain their housing and stability. Luther Burbank Savings has had a real and lasting impact on many lives.

We’re honored as well that Jan de Wald will receive the Task Force’s 2012 Spirit of Service Award. This award is for someone who works in homeless services and has gone above and beyond the call to make a difference. That’s Jan de Wald. Jan’s background is in forensic mental health. After retiring, she became involved in bringing housing and shelter to Western Sonoma County for the large number of unsheltered residents along the Lower Russian River. Jan served as the Housing Director for Community Housing Options West (CHOW), now a part of Community and Family Services Agency. She helped establish and operate their seasonal emergency shelter in Guerneville for six years, providing up to 50 hot meals each night to people in need, as well as housing local adults who found themselves in need of shelter from the cold. Jan was involved in efforts to establish year-round services and permanent housing in the River Area.

Jan served on the Task Force Board of Directors for 8 years, two as Vice-Chair, always ensuring that the Board was aware and supportive of efforts to assist homeless people in West County. She ably represented the Task Force, as well as West County interests, on the countywide Continuum of Care Steering Committee. Jan was appointed by Supervisor Efren Carrillo to the Commission on the Status of Women, and sits on the Board of Directors for Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. The Spirit of Service Award will be accompanied by a $500 check to the nonprofit cause of Jan’s choice.

We warmly invite you to join us at October in Paradise on October 4th to honor these extraordinary awardees.