It’s stunning to find so many people in need in a community that is so wealthy.
Larry lives in Calistoga, CA in the upper Napa valley, an area with both great wealth and great poverty. He is the volunteer President and CEO of Calistoga Affordable Housing (CAH), a charitable housing development organization that also provides free home repairs for seniors. He's been with them since 2007. Larry also serves as Chair of the Calistoga Senior Parks Coalition, working to bring senior services to the small Up Valley town. His wife Shirley will join him on the cruise.
The primary goal of Calistoga Affordable Housing is to build affordable housing for the working families of the small 5,000-population community. In 2009 the community was dramatically fractured by the bad economic conditions, and Larry searched for a method for "community building" to counteract the worsening conditions. He co-founded a program called "Rebuilding Calistoga" patterned after Christmas in April, which does volunteer projects during the National Volunteer week in April. Larry and his community committee identified senior homeowners with serious home safety and health problems. They raised $46,000, got the people with the necessary expertise organized, and completed all 32 home projects for the seniors in a couple of weeks. They replaced decks, steps, and flooring; installed hot water heaters and updated bathrooms; installed grab bars and electric porch lifts; and made kitchen appliance repairs."Neighbor helping neighbor"accomplished all this community building.
The next year they had 60 applications from senior homeowners and completed 42 of them, but it took three months longer. They actively raise funds throughout the year and worked with several county agencies to provide additional help and services to the seniors. In 2012 the volunteers worked year round, completing about five projects each month. Says Larry: "The community has responded with great enthusiasm; people are very generous. Sometimes when we approach organizations like the Home Depot Foundation, they give us more than we ask for. We asked for $5000 from a local foundation and they gave us $15,000. They know how much this work helps our seniors, and their response has been tremendous.
Following the Napa earthquake of August 2014, the entire Napa Valley was immediately pressed for funds and volunteer help. Even though Calistoga didn't receive as much extensive housing damage, there was enough small damage to many of the 520 Calistoga mobile homes that more than 50 seniors applied for home repairs. The Napa community responded with grants and donations of $50,000, and CAH raised another $160,000 to complete fundraising for the construction of an eight unit, $1.3 million apartment project in St. Helena.