Community Link
A newsletter of Napa Valley Community Foundation  
April 2017
In a few days, May will be upon us, and with it will come sunnier skies and blossoming flowers.  May also is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was created nearly 70 years ago to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses and to encourage those living with mental health conditions to get the help they need.
This month's edition of Community Link features three programs that work to help people of all ages access the support and resources that allow them to lead safe, happy and productive lives. All programs have been vetted by Community Foundation staff.
If you'd like to support any of them, you can recommend a grant by logging into your DonorCentral account from the homepage on our website. Or, you can fax us a completed grant recommendation form at 254.7955. 
If you're a reader of this newsletter who doesn't have a charitable giving Fund with us, you also can simply send a check directly to any of the below projects you wish to support!
Julia DeNatale & Rejane Brito
Philanthropic Services staff
The community comes together to prevent teen suicide
What's needed$28,000 for the Courage Village and Village Napa project

Why they exist: Aldea was founded in 1972 and provides mental and behavioral health therapy services, in English or Spanish, to nearly 4,000 children, young adults and adults in Napa County each year. Aldea's programs cover the continuum of prevention to crisis intervention, and include: individual mental health therapy in a clinic setting; outpatient treatment for teens with substance abuse issues or developmental disabilities; treatment foster care and adoption support; and, outreach and resources to community members experiencing symptoms of early psychosis. The nonprofit also serves around 600 Solano County residents.
What they do well: Approximately 95 percent of Aldea's clients are children under the age of 18, and Aldea staff also provide therapy onsite in all of the middle schools within the Napa Valley Unified School District.  When there was an increase in teen suicides last year, Aldea launched a suicide prevention and awareness campaign. Another local grassroots group, Village Napa, was convening local teens to research and create a community that would support teen mental health. The two groups formed a partnership, and launched official joint prevention efforts last fall.
The collaborative is overseen by a community-based committee made up of students, teachers, parents and mental health professionals. The goal? To discover the sources of stress, anxiety and depression in local students, to pinpoint where services to help
exist--and where there are service gaps to be filled--and to support teens and parents alike in accessing those services. To that end, programs so far have included: a community-wide Suicide Prevention Conference; parent support groups; film screenings and speakers on stress reduction and suicide prevention; and, forums for teens to share their stories.
What we learned when we met with them recently: Aldea's clients are among the community's most vulnerable; 90 percent are low-income and are eligible for Medi-Cal or Medicare.  However, government funding sources don't pay for prevention programs like Courage Village and Village Napa.  Aldea is fundraising $58,000 to cover the cost of the program's offerings, like motivational speakers, curriculum and marketing materials. So far, grants and donations from individual donors, local businesses and foundations cover about $30,000; a gap of $28,000 remains.
People served: 2,000 teens, parents and community members each year
Budget & Board: $11.8 million ($58,000 is for the Courage Village and Village Napa project)/12 Board members
Contact: Mark Bontrager, Executive Director,
Adults receive culinary job training that extends beyond the kitchen
What's needed$45,000 for The Napa Valley Culinary Training Academy 

Why they existSalvation Army's (SA) mission is--simply put--to feed, clothe, comfort and care.  In Napa, SA's primary program has been its feeding program, which serves a hot, nutritious meal at lunchtime, Monday through Friday, to around 150 residents a day. Many of the feeding program's clients are homeless, jobless and face mental illness and substance abuse challenges. Without stable employment and treatment, SA staff observed clients cycling through homelessness and addiction. To that end, in 2016 SA decided to pilot The Napa Valley Culinary Training Academy (NVCTA), designed to provide targeted employment training that also would address many of its clients' barriers to employment with community partnerships and wraparound services.
What they do well:  Participants in the four-month NVCTA program receive intensive classroom education and hands-on in-the-kitchen training (five days a week, 5-7 hours per day) using curriculum designed by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and taught by an industry veteran. Students learn all aspects of the culinary arts, ranging from safe food handling, preparation and cooking to food ordering, serving and catering.  Participants also prepare and serve the meals that are provided daily at the SA cafeteria in downtown Napa, which allows them to practice customer service skills and workplace etiquette. What sets NVCTA apart are the ancillary services that clients in the program also receive, including: weekly mental health counseling through a partnership with Mentis; housing or housing subsidies from Salvation Army and other partners in the community; and, alcohol and drug counseling and support.  
What we learned when we met with them recently: The goal is for a graduate of NVCTA to be able to secure immediate employment at the end of the four-month program, and, equally important, to sustain employment by actively addressing his or her previous barriers. The first cohort of 12 NVCTA students will graduate this month, and the second cohort session is scheduled to start in June with a new set of 12-14 participants.  The pilot program budget is $240,000, which includes: restaurant equipment and food; curriculum development; staff; and, housing and therapy costs.  SA has raised nearly $200,000 through individual donors and grants; a gap of $45,000 remains.
People served: 26 adults each year
Budget & Board: $1.1 million ($240,000 is for NVCTA)/19 local Advisory Board members
Contact: Maj. Kevin Hanson, Salvation Army Napa Corps Office,
Teens get counseling where they need it, when they need it
What's needed: $6,000 for mental health counseling for students

Why they exist: VHS, a public high school in Napa, has a total student body of about 1,800. A dedicated teacher started a program 45 years ago, called Peer Support, to teach teens--who already confide in each other--to counsel each other, as well. Today, the Peer Support program has 32 trained high school juniors and seniors providing peer counseling to 154 fellow teens. If, during the course of peer counseling, a teen discloses more serious issues, like: high stress; anxiety; depression; substance abuse; anger or aggression; or, suicidal ideology, the peer mentor is trained to bring those students to the teacher to be connected with professional mental health counseling services. The VHS program's emphasis on peer relationships is unique and creates a natural and organic referral mechanism to counseling services.
What they do well: The students referred to the intensive, one-on-one mental health therapy through peer counselors (students also can be referred by other school staff, or self-refer) receive an average of five weeks of therapy on the school site, during the school day, free-of-charge.  In this way, VHS' program model fills a gap: Anecdotal data indicates that many students likely would not access counseling services outside of school, primarily for economic or logistical reasons.  The Peer Support teacher has recruited seven licensed therapists, who spend about 24 collective hours on campus each week.  To-date this academic year, 59 students have received therapy.
What we learned when we met with them recently: Demand for the intensive therapy is on the rise.  Factors such as academic, social and family pressures are among reasons for the increase in severe stress and anxiety in teens. To meet this demand, VHS leverages retired, licensed therapists who volunteer with therapists in private practice, as well as master's level therapist interns. Because there is no dedicated school site or District funding for school-based therapy of this kind, VHS leverages donations and grants to cover the cost, which is $12,500 for an academic year. For the school year beginning in August, a gap of $6,000 remains.
People served: 70 at-risk teens at VHS each year
Budget: $12,500 for mental health therapists for an academic year
Contact: Ted Ward, Peer Support teacher,
Napa Valley Community Foundation