Fire aftermath

During the recent Kincade Fire, the staff at the Mary Isaak Center were proud to provide a warm welcome to anyone in need. Our shelter was full to bursting with new residents displaced from the streets or local encampments. We also opened our day-use services to evacuees, including showers, laundry, and meals at Mary’s Table.

Now, the smoke has cleared, but we’re still rubbing our eyes in wonder over everything you did for us.

When we asked for sleeping bags and towels, you answered. When we asked for toiletries, you answered. When we asked for food, you answered. This community answered every call we put out for supplies and support. Thank you for giving back when it is needed most!

We’re still full to the rafters, bedding down an extra 30 to 40 people a night in our Mary Isaak Center dining room. With the nights getting colder, we could still use a few additional items, including new socks and underwear, gloves, scarves, hats, baby wipes and sleeping bags. Donations can be brought to the Mary Isaak Center at 900 Hopper Street on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays from 2-5 p.m.

We are so thankful for your help serving those who are most vulnerable right now.

Holidays at COTS

Gobble, gobble, gobble; ho, ho, ho; dreidel, dreidel, dreidel; and an auld lang syne. The holidays are coming! Can we make them shine?

We know we can—because you come through for COTS and our clients every year! Thank you.

Here’s how you can help this year.

Thanksgiving and Christmas

We would love your donations of frozen turkeys and commercially-produced pies at the Mary Isaak Center, 900 Hopper Street, Petaluma, Monday through Thursday between 9 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 5 p.m.

To find an alternate drop-off time, please call our Community Engagement Specialist Diana Morales (707) 765-6530 x 136 or email her at

Like all our lunches and dinners, the Thanksgiving and Christmas day meals are free to anyone in the community who’s having a hard time making ends meet.
There’s no application or paperwork involved. The only question we’ll ask is, “Did you get enough to eat?”

Last month, we served a record 7,800 delicious meals to those in need, but Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are extravaganzas. If you’d like to help serve over the holidays, Diana (contact info above) would be delighted to hear from you! Many of our core volunteers take time off during the holidays, so we would love your help!

Holiday Free Store

Our Holiday Free Store opens for donations on Saturday, November 30. The Free Store serves our shelter residents and the over-400 people in our permanent housing programs. This year, we know a lot of people missed work or encountered extra expenses because of the fires so we’re opening the store to as many of them as we can, too.

How does the free store operate? We ask for donations from the community of toys, clothes, personal care products, and gift cards. Then we invite parents to shop for a set number of gifts for each of their children. We have a separate shopping area for children to pick out little presents for their parents. There’s an area for gift-wrapping and another for games, art projects and cookie decorating. Santa is bound to drop by a few times, too.

We’re still finalizing the Free Store’s location, but you can find donation hours and needed items at after November 18th.

Invest in Transformation

Nothing is better for a child than to be in a stable home. With a financial donation to COTS, you can give the best holiday gifts of all: wraparound care, stability, and a permanent home—all year long.

Last year, COTS served over 1,200 people across all our programs. And after the recent fires, we are sheltering more than 180 people per night. Your support ensures that our clients, from families to veterans, have access to the resources they need to get back on their feet.

Here’s what one of our Rapid Re-Housing moms told us recently about the changes she’s seen in her 9-year-old son. “Tyler closed in on himself when we were at the shelter. He wasn’t interested in other people and he stopped talking very much. Now that we are in a home as a family, he has friends over almost every day, he’s social, he’s enthusiastic. I couldn’t be happier.”

Thank you for investing in COTS and in this crucial work.

The COTS Hour

In light of all the re-grouping that people, businesses and organizations are doing post-Kincade fire, COTS rescheduled The COTS Hour. We’re now holding it from 8 to 9 a.m., Thursday, December 5 at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Auditorium. You can RSVP here.

The COTS Hour is our annual breakfast fundraiser and it’s our opportunity to update you about the progress we’ve made in our shared fight against homelessness and our plans for the future. You’ll hear from clients, staff, volunteers and COTS leadership. The breakfast is free and all giving is private.
Please join us. We can’t wait to show you our work!

RSVP Today!

Karl Bundesen, left, accepts an award of recognition from Jamieson Bunn, Director of Development at COTS

Century 21 Bundesen

We are filled with gratitude for everyone involved in the COTS Raffle this year. For the second year in a row, Karl Bundesen and his team at Century 21 Bundesen put the raffle together with the help of dozens of local restaurants. With the help of everyone who bought tickets, the raffle raised over $21,000 for COTS!

Please click here to see all the restaurants who donated gift certificates. Thanks to the hard work of people at Century 21 Bundesen, too many people to name bought tickets.

Century 21 Bundesen has been in the fight for a long time, and we are lucky to have them on our side.

Congratulations to the four lucky winners who each won an assortment of gift certificates to Petaluma’s finest restaurants.

Are you a restaurant owner, who’d like to donate a gift certificate next year? Please contact Crissi Langwell at – and thank you for your support!

It was a Spooktacular Halloween

Smoky skies made Halloween spookier than usual, but that didn’t stop COTS kids from donning disguises and searching out sweet prizes. There was no school, so we had a party at the Kids First Family Shelter and then the older kids took to D Street for trick or treating.

Pictured: One of our KFFS kids dressed up as a baby shark

Drawbridge makes a difference

Drawbridge, an arts education nonprofit, brings arts and crafts to kids at our shelter and at Vida Nueva, an affordable housing apartment complex where COTS provides support and services. “Suzy from Drawbridge was a godsend to my son,” says one mom who’s moved her family from shelter to permanent housing. “It was a hard time for him to be far from his friends and not to have privacy. Art was his outlet.”

Most recently, Suzy helped our kids at Vida express their love for family and their creativity by helping them create a Dia de los Muertos altar. She taught them about the traditions around the holiday and provided a space for them to honor their loved ones. Thank you to all our volunteers who help create a sense of community for our clients, showing through your actions that we are all family!

Extreme Makeover

You’ve got your swarm of bees, your bevy of swans, your colony of weasels and your shiver of sharks. What do you call a group of volunteers who rehab a house in one day?

How about a boon of heroes? An alchemy of altruists? A gathering of gallants?

Whatever you call them, they deserve a celebration!

Last month, Rebuilding Together Petaluma transformed one of COTS’ Integrity Houses, a place where six adults, most of them elderly, all of them on fixed incomes, have found permanent housing.

Some 32 volunteers converged early on a Saturday morning and cleared back and front yard of debris and weeds, put down ground cover and mulch, trimmed bushes and erected a shade structure.

Inside the house, they cleared a junk room and made it a sitting room and they ripped out carpet so that we could install flooring.

A few volunteers came back later that week to fix the house’s gates.

The residents are agog at their new digs and delighted to spend more time outside.

Many thanks to all the volunteers, including 13 Casa Grande High School students and skilled volunteers from Ohana Construction. Rebuilding Together converged on several houses that same day. Wells Fargo helped them cover costs. Many thanks to Wells Fargo as well!

Rebuilding Together has been a longtime COTS supporter. In the last eight years, the nonprofit organization has provided COTS with labor and supplies valued at over $350,000!

Donate your car on Giving Tuesday and Donate for Charity will waive its admin fees!

Buying a new car?  Getting rid of an old one?  We’ve teamed up with Donate For Charity so you can easily donate your vehicle.  They will arrange for your car to be picked up and handle all the issues associated with donating your car.  We certainly appreciate our donors considering this option to help support our cause.

You can either click on the Vehicle Donation Form link, or call Donate For Charity directly at (866) 392-4483.

If you donate on Giving Tuesday, December 3, Donate for Charity will waive all its administrative fees.

Pictured L to R: Bicycle repairmen David Ortega, Matt Muldoon, Mike Moore, Jim Hudson, and Dana Teicheira

Petaluma Wheelmen to the rescue!

Bikes are the way most folks at the Mary Isaak Center get around. And just like cars, they need repairs and regular maintenance.

Many, many thanks to the Petaluma Wheelman, who regularly come by to repair and tune up our residents’ bicycles.
Sunday’s session was a big success. We are grateful for the club’s volunteer work and for their commitment to our residents, who can now pedal in safety.

Petaluma Sunrise Rotary, WeTourCA (a Petaluma-based bike tour company) and the Petaluma Wheelmen pay for all the parts.