Despite already exceeded their initial goal of raising discretionary funds for the Children’s Home by taking on the capital campaign, the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation sought other ways to support the Home and raise awareness of abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Sonoma County. When the Foundation learned that the food service practice of the old Home would continue at the new Home they looked for a way to allow for food to be made on site so that it would be warm, fresh, and inviting. The practice at the old Home was that food was prepared and delivered to the Home by Juvenile Hall. The Foundation’s solution was to enter into an agreement with the County to offset the cost of hiring a new full-time chef for the Home. With a full-time chef mealtime at the Home has been transformed. The chef works closely with local farmers to bring in fresh produce. By working closely with staff, the chef has created opportunities for children to learn healthy eat habits, and learn new skills by helping to plan menus for the Home.
At the time of the Foundations inception, few people in Sonoma County were aware of the existence of the Children’s Home and its purpose. Through advocacy and fundraising efforts, the Foundation worked closely with the County to increase the profile of the Home and inform the public of its important purpose in the community. Board members gave numerous interviews to local radio and newspapers; presentations to churches, businesses, and civic organizations; and held fundraising events such as The Pixar Film premiere’s of “Toy Story 2” in 1999 and “Monsters, Inc. in 2001. These efforts not only helped the capital campaign but also became opportunities to educate participants on the issues facing children living at the Children’s Home. One of the unexpected results of the Foundation’s public awareness efforts was that the children living at the home no longer perceived the home as a bad place or something they were embarrassed to talk about. Once the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home was no longer a secret, and the community began to embrace the Children’s Home, the children began to see it as a positive place.
As public awareness increased so did the interest of individuals, businesses, churches, and other civic organizations to find a way to become involved with the Children’s Home. Businesses held toy drives and raised funds to provide gifts for children at the holidays and on birthdays. Civic organizations hosted parties and fieldtrips for the children. These efforts by the community provided an important component to the Children’s Home. They reminded the children to be children again by having fun, learning new things, and giving them something to look forward to. These little extras help to reduce their stress and anxiety by taking their minds off the difficult circumstances of their current lives.
Once the capital campaign has been completed the Foundation has plans to expand its support for children through four key focus areas:
- continued supplemental support for the children at Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.
- Support for emancipated children including education, housing and employment guidance
- Support for children in foster care and foster parents
- Community child abuse prevention.
Through tireless volunteer hours the Valley of the Moon Foundation has helped to create a safe haven for children. What they have done is not just help build a building, but raised awareness of the issues that affect abused, neglected, and abandoned children in our community so that support from individuals, businesses, and organizations is on-going. Their work is a reminder that even in wealthy communities such as Sonoma County, we must come together to meet the needs of those who can’t help themselves.