Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary aids in housing of families in transition

Thanks to a helping hand – literally and figuratively – from Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary, a pair of previously chronically homeless families in Contra Costa County now have roofs over their heads.

These and 18 other such families are beneficiaries of a new initiative by Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (CCIH). Named Families in Supportive Housing (FISH) and launched last October, it will continue to place families in transition in subsidized domiciles throughout the county as units and funding become available.

Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary, whose partnership with CCIH dates to 2005, decided last fall to “adopt” two units -- a house in Pleasant Hill and a condo in Concord – by providing member-donated starter furnishings, everything from beds and furniture to an assortment of kitchenware. Donations came from elsewhere in the community as well.

Using their own vehicles, members of the club physically delivered the goods to their destinations and set everything up in advance of occupancy by the incoming families. Club member Tom Guyette, a resident of Lafayette, offered his garage as a makeshift warehouse. As project pointperson, he worked closely with Gloria Bertolozzi, CCIH staffer who oversees volunteer and outreach programs.

“Both domiciles are now occupied, and I can tell you how thrilled and grateful the families are to have a place they can call home. We hope that further funding will enable us to expand the program,” she said.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) partially underwrote what has been accomplished so far. Playing a major role since the founding of CCIH in 1991 is Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, which remains an active partner.

Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary has been involved with CCIH for a dozen years as programming partners at Garden Park Apartments in Pleasant Hill. The apartment complex houses families, likewise previously homeless and facing transition challenges.

The Rotary club’s inaugural program, which continues to thrive, was to sponsor a Halloween pumpkin-carving day.

“It has been a huge success,” said Brad Davis, architect of the program and CCIH liaison for Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary. In addition, the service organization donates Thanksgiving dinners for all resident families and Valentine’s Day festivities for kids.

 Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, meets weekly over breakfast, starting at 7:00, at Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa on Mount Diablo Boulevard. Guests are always welcome.

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