Committee on the Shelterless

Rating: 4.78 stars   41 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Homeless & Housing, Human Services

Location: 900 Hopper Street Petaluma CA 94952 USA

Mission: COTS offers help and hope to homeless persons in Sonoma County by providing safe shelter and housing, helping people develop steady incomes and helping them get back under a roof of their own. We also help homeless families become stable and break the cycle of homelessness by teaching homeless parents to make their children''s needs a high priority and to provide a safe, loving and secure home for their children.
Results: We’ve helped over 15,000 homeless people and have saved hundreds of lives. Many of our program participants have gone on to have fabulous lives!
Direct beneficiaries per year: 2000
Geographic areas served: Northern California
Programs: Center for Homeless Children and their Families: a 35-bed year round emergency shelter for families with children, which provides shelter, food, and intensive assessment /case management services from resource advising staff for up to 60 days.Children's Haven: Located at the Center for Homeless Children and their Families, the Children's Haven program offers licensed day care and other comprehensive services to sheltered children and their parents, including parenting training, counseling and assessment.Church/Synagogue Emergency Shelter Program: Coordinated by COTS staff, up to 20 congregations provide companionship, food and up to 12 additional sleeping spaces to homeless families during the school year.Mary Isaak Center: Year round emergency shelter and transitional housing for homeless adults. 100 emergency shelter beds, 30+ transitional housing beds, clinic, case management, work program offered. Provides showers, laundry, message center, telephone, mail and locker services. In addition, counselors and resource advisors provide assistance with employment referrals, training in personal hygiene, housing referrals, counseling, assistance with substance abuse issues, and referrals for health care.Shared and Transitional housing for previously homeless families and singles using 12 residences in Petaluma and Rohnert Park. Provides safe, affordable housing in a mutually supportive, service enriched living environment.The Family Connection provides after shelter support for formerly homeless families.The Petaluma Kitchen provides hot meals every day to needy community members.
2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

COTS really does save lives one person at a time. They understand the issues that create homelessness and cure the problem from the inside out. They run as a top rate business but cure people like a top rate charity. They are the most educated and caring community you can have. Petaluma is fortunate to have COTS part of the local infastructure. They are the most caring and supportive group you can find!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

so many ways. These people are the real deal. They really do turn people's lives around and creat an invironment where people can succeed to the best of there abitities.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Give them even more staff and a new family center.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

How they connect with donors, volunteers and clients alike. It really is a big family.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

from every walk of life with a common goal of helping each person who walks through there door!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Stop homlessness for ever!

Ways to make it better...

They had more funds to continue there great work.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Funding.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I LOVE COTS!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

COTS is one of the most well run organizations I have ever been involved in. It is truly successful in every aspect of their mission and is a model for other similar organizations.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helping in their annual fundraiser.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the dedication to the homeless, the people they serve.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

kind, considerate, empathetic

Ways to make it better...

I cannot think of any way that the annual fund raiser could have been improved upon.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-12-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

I first met John Records when I was interested in bringing Yoga Nidra meditation classes to COTS at the Mary Isaac Center. John's life story and generous soul guided my decision to teach a 6 week program there. What a surprise and delight to meet and get to know a dedicated group of eager and curious people in the program at Mary Isaac Center. I found that it was a reciprocal teaching; I learned from week to week more about my students, their struggles and courage, as they learned the benefits of yoga practice. I continued to teach yoga movement classes long after the 6 weeks, and cried when I had to make the decision to leave that program. Thank you John Records for your work and generosity, and to all the participants in my classes who touched my heart and soul.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

receiving so many blessings from working with the people who are actively seeking positive change in their lives.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

generous and kind.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

save and enhance the lives of so many more in need.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

My friend and her family ended up at COTS a number of years ago. They were helped with shelter at first, education and eventually with food assistance when they were out of the shelter. Many people in Petaluma have used a COTS program or volunteered at COTS. They are a staple in our community. I give what I can to COTS now and feel confident that the money and supplies that I give are well used.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

my confidence that my money or supplies are going to be put to good use.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

professional but caring.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change how all homeless shelters in the US were run and do more homeless prevention.

Ways to make it better...

I could do more and it was a bit easier to donate stuff.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding and the lack of treatment for mental health and addiction treatment.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I have experience in nonprofit world and I own a business. Using my experience, I can see how much they do with so little.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

We are fortunate to have so many fine organizations and individuals doing such great work in our community. COTS is especially deserving of our attention because it works, and addresses needs at the most fundamental levels. In this New Year, I would encourage everyone to take a moment and check out some of their fine programs and consider suppoorting COTS.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated, but that's probably not unusual in most non-profit environments. What is exceptional is the effectiveness of their programs which are aimed at the most basic of human needs... shelter, food, and counseling helping clients back to self-reliance.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

COTS has become an integral part of the local community by providing programs that enable homeless people to confront the issues that caused their homelessness and work to enable them to rejoin mainstream society. A special focus is given to children to ensure that they do not suffer from the homeless experience and end up homeless themselves. A particularly impressive aspect of the way that COTS works is that it uses large numbers of community volunteers in many different ways, thereby increasing the bond between the community and the organization, and demonstrating to the clients that the community is supportive. It's 'tough love' policies (zero drug and alcohol tolerance, for example) have demonstrated some amazing results in relatively short time horizons. I'm proud to be able to be a part of this organization.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Create a program designed to share their success and help other communities and other organizations duplicate it. Think of the resulting decrease in homelessness nationwide!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

My experience is as a donor and fundraiser. My enthusiasm the work increases continually along with my admiration for the organization and its mission. COTS (Committee on the Shelterless) aids and trains derailed individuals/families in the economic basics and life skills necessary to stabilize into self sufficient lives. The staff and volunteers of this organization truly have "linebacker eyes and Peace Corps hearts." They perform the mission with impeccable efficiency and accountatility to donors and stakeholders.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

. . . "franchise it."

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

. . . witnessing the effectiveness of the work and service it performs in the community.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

. . . uniformly competent, highly motivated, and from unusually diverse backgrounds, including numbers of former clients now "giving back."

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

. . . leverage and export it's knowledge to help thousands more with high efficiency; broaden its services locally.

Ways to make it better...

. . . I had more time to give.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

. . . the client load in this staggered economy, and the competition for funds to continue the work.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I am a former volunteer for The Kitchen, a food service operated by COTS in Petaluma. COTS provides much more than shelter services. They have multiple programs that help folks transition from homelessness to employment and housing. They also provide hot meals, both for the homeless and those who need food. They deliveer food to families in need. At the time I was there, a nurse came to the day shelter regularly to administer medications or ensure medication compliance for the mentally ill. They worked closely with the police dept. to help folks clear up warrants and obtain valid IDs to assist them in their quest for self sufficiency. They had, and may still have, a program for prevention of homelessness by working with folks to help them manage their finances. They have day care facilities for homeless families. When I was there, they had a program to prevent panhandling by sending someone out to invite them to participate in their programs. I would encourage everyone to support this fine organization.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

and would, greatly expand services to help the poor.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2000-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

My wife brought me to COTS. She said it is the most helpful, meaningful organization in town. She introduced me to the executive director, John Records. In a short time I began to get the feel of COTS. My training and degrees have been in the area of ecumenical theology, working to help Christian communities work together and get together for the good of society. The more I got to know COTS, the more I realized that they are doing in our community what all the Christian churches are constantly being challenged to do and be through the Gospel, but have not been able to do because of their dividedness. No church group in our community has been able to reflect Matthew 25 in our community the way COTS has. I'm so happy that COTS is around, very alive and well. And I'm honored to serve on its Board.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

meeting many of those that COTS has helped to rebuild their lives, and many of the kind, compassionate Petalumans who regularly volunteer, or support or donate to make COTS what it has become.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

help make plans to spread COTS wholistic approach to rebuild lives who were down and almost out by integrating nourishing, clothing, educating, counseling,finding job opportunities, and providing training in finances and social skills.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being a part of it.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

humble, singleminded, and incredibly compassionate.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

use it to serve the homeless in our town and in many ofthe very needy in northern California.

Ways to make it better...

I could see more of the local church communities and synagogue actively participating in the work of COTS rebuilding the homeless and battered in our town one day at a time, onme act of helpfulness at a time.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

finding the finances to continue and grow, and discovering and fostering the leadership talent to continue to lead COTS into the future.

One thing I'd also say is that...

it would be a great investment. The prophets of Israel maintained that the greatness of a society is measuted by the way they care for the very least among them: the indigent, the infirmed, the homeless and those with little hope. COTS does this very well

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I have not only seen and been impressed with the actual operations of COTS, but I've personally known people who have been residents of their shelters and have heard first hand from them about how awesome this organization is. What's special about COTS is that they do far more than give out fish, they teach people to fish. They help to educate, support and encourage people so when they leave this shelter, they have a better chance for success at leaving homelessness forever.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

...amazing! No doubt they truly have a heart for what they do and are passionate about the people they are helping.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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