A Help Up
A resident of Sanctuary Villas recently experienced a tragic loss. Emotionally overwhelmed, Emile* had to withdraw from her college classes, turning her focus toward healing and making it through each day. With robust support, she is now able to talk about her trauma and the skills and strengths she has to persevere. Emile has begun working in the community, fulfilling her dream of advocating for other foster youth, and building her plan to move on to independent housing in the coming year. Despite the tremendous loss she faced, she was able to use the skills she is learning at CSN to not only maintain her housing, mental health, and sobriety, but also to develop new and deeper skills and strengths. Emile has gained self-awareness and is able now to manage her mental health challenges. She continues to receive support and guidance from her mentors as she achieves her goals. She plans on completing her college education.
* The name has been changed to protect the individual’s privacy.
Letter from the Director
Dear CSN Community,
It has to be said: 2020 was challenging and bewildering in myriad ways. CSN has steadfastly supported the 197 youth and adults living in our housing programs throughout the pandemic, the resulting economic uncertainty, and another record fire year.
Yet, I am proud to report that CSN is more than merely surviving. Our programs are thriving, our organization is expanding, and our staff are empowering our community through training and mentorship on the best practices that are the foundation of our success. Our collective commitment provides hope and brightens the future for our residents, despite the many challenges of the time.
CSN’s 10 community homes continue to provide safe, high quality supportive housing to vulnerable members of our Sonoma County community. The pandemic has not slowed us down. Our outstanding staff has creatively risen to the challenge—improvising in ways not even considered or possible in times past. We have virtual cooking classes, online museum tours, Zoom exercise classes, and safe outdoor bike rides. Our staff consistently goes above and beyond to support residents in engaging their bodies and minds through new ways to learn, grow, and participate.
I am also thrilled and energized by the extraordinary talent on our team right now. We have veterans like Rita Larson, the Director of Social Rehabilitation, who has been providing leadership at CSN for over 20 years. We also welcomed new staff members in 2020, including Clinical Director Carrie Lara, PsyD., and new Youth Housing Director Meghan Murphy. They have both quickly become respected leaders at CSN, embodying the compassion and accountability that are cornerstones of CSN’s organizational culture. Meghan will be spearheading a training initiative that will involve teaching evidence-based practices such as motivational interviewing to other nonprofit organizations and to our county partners.
CSN continues to manage the funds we receive in a highly professional and responsible manner. Non-profits typically spend between 15 and 40 percent of their revenue on administrative costs. CSN spends less than 15 percent on administration.
The best part of my week is when I help facilitate Seeking Safety groups with young people. There is nothing more gratifying to me than to see young people learn about themselves, make healthy decisions, and reach for their goals. I am filled with joy watching young adults who came up through the foster care system find success and take leadership roles supporting other foster youth and former foster youth.
Thank you for investing in the thrilling successes of all of our residents, who need our community to rally around them now more than ever.
Tom Bieri, MFT
Our Homes, Our Impact
Community Support Network (CSN) is a recognized leader in the provision of supportive housing to Sonoma County’s homeless adults and transition age youth who struggle with the ongoing effects of trauma and addiction. CSN’s mission is to help individuals with behavioral health challenges realize their potential by providing hope, wellness, and high quality supportive housing. For nearly 50 years, CSN has delivered innovative and supportive programming for those in our community who struggle with behavioral health challenges. Founded in 1972 to provide a safe place for individuals to stabilize, recover, and grow without having to enter an institutional setting, CSN provides programming in small, supportive homes located in vibrant residential areas throughout Sonoma County.
CSN operates four residential social-rehabilitation programs and six supportive housing programs where clients achieve self-sufficiency by developing independent living skills, positive coping strategies, and educational and vocational opportunities:
- Sanctuary Villas is a 9-bed facility in Santa Rosa for transition age youth transitioning from foster care and homelessness.
- Sanctuary House is a 4-bed home for transition age youth located in Cotati.
- Stony Point Common, a 16-bed home in western Santa Rosa, provides permanent low-income housing to 16 adults with severe behavioral health challenges.
- Grand Avenue is a 5-bed home located in the South Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa that provides a permanent living environment for people with behavioral health difficulties.
- A Step Up is an 11-bed live-in program in Cotati for adults with addiction and behavioral health issues.
- E Street is a 9-bed home in Santa Rosa’s Luther Burbank neighborhood for adults coming out of a behavioral health or recovery facility who need assistance with transitioning back into the community.
- The Bridges program is a 10-bed transitional home in Santa Rosa operated in partnership with Sonoma County Behavioral Health that supports adults with behavioral health needs in planning their transition to successful independence.
- Brown Street is a 15-bed home located in Santa Rosa for women with behavioral health challenges who benefit from independent living in a communal setting.
- Hope House is a 12-bed men’s board and care home for conserved clients who are able to step down to a lower level of care but who still benefit from additional support.
- Opportunity House is a 13-bed temporary shelter located in Santa Rosa for men and women, specifically those who have behavioral health challenges and are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Best Places to Work!
We were proud and delighted to be named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Sonoma County by the North Bay Business Journal. There is a great deal of competition for this award, and the most heavily weighted part of the selection process is the direct input from employees. We are thrilled for our beloved team to be recognized. Here at CSN, we love what we do, and it shows.
CSN Takes Active Role in Governor’s 100 Day Challenge
We have joined like-minded organizations in Sonoma County to accept the Governor’s 100 Day Challenge. This challenge involves creating opportunities for an additional 65 transition age youth to find shelter—with a special emphasis on the LBGQT+ community along with those youth who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Meeting this challenge will require creativity, willingness to overcome barriers, and quick decision making. In addition to housing 65 youth, the Sonoma County 100 Day Challenge aims to reshape and reimagine the homeless response system in order to ensure housing accessibility for all youth in need in our community.
Another phenomenal success we’ve had this year is with the very first youth to move into Sanctuary Villas. Before coming to CSN Tosha* was living in her car and focused on survival. She took on the CSN Resident Monitor position, giving her the opportunity to live in the home rent free in exchange for being a leader and support among her peers. In this role, Tosha works to establish a healthy culture in the home, reinforces boundaries, and provides practical help to the youth living at Sanctuary Villas. With the support of safe and stable housing, she has grown in her self-confidence and skills. Not only has she excelled at her job as Resident Monitor but she also taken on a second job—and makes and sells cloth masks on the side. Committed to her future, Tosha has started saving money while at Sanctuary Villas. She has also recently applied for and received promotions at both of her workplaces. This young woman is now considering moving out on her own. With broad job skills, robust savings, and strengthened connections to her family, Tosha is ready for independence.
* The name has been changed to protect the individual’s privacy.
Homeless Youth in Sonoma County
Statistics drawn from the 2020 Sonoma County Homeless Youth Needs Assessment
- 28% had history in the foster care system
- Of the 304 homeless teens and youth, 84% were unsheltered
- 45% had prior or current emotional or psychiatric conditions
- 33% had prior or current PTSD
- 27% had less than a high school diploma/GED
- 31% had prior or current issues with drug or alcohol abuse
Thank You to Our Supporters
Lise Asimont and Shawn Philips
Jim and Gwen Churchill
Margaret De Haven
Belen and Kason Grady
Ed and Julie Gugel
Robert Markowitz and Christine Berardo
Mark and Pam Olson
Erin and John Roche
Nancy and Randal Sale
Rich and Cindy Strauch
PARTNERS & SPONSORS
Court ‘N’ Disaster
Dutton Estate Vineyard
Johnson DeBois & Forrest Engineering
Kuma Shauna and Hula Hula Na Pua
O Ka La’akea
Little River Inn
May Day Computer
Minute Man Press
North Bay Business Journal
Plantation House Restaurant
Ramey Wine Cellars
R. McClure Electric
Redwood Empire Chapter, NECA
Social Advocates for Youth
Sonoma Coast Vineyards
Sonoma County Behavioral Health
Sonoma County Children’s Village
Sonoma County Development
Sonoma County Human Services
St. Francis Winery
TLC Child and Family Services
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
VOICES/On the Move
West Coast Diesels
Williams Selyem Winery