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: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I know a lot of people think that C.O.T.S. is a Great nonprofit. I, admit, that they project themselves quite well as one. The truth, however is a lot different than the rosy picture about themselves that they present. One thing that is true is that C.O.T.S. will do anything ethical or not to preserve their funding, their reputation within the community as well as the North Bay Area at anyone's expense. Take for example a gentlemen who was a two time graduate of the program (One of a very few at that time.). He believed in C.O.T.S. and helped them. What did they do to him? They sicked the police on him eventually suing him for $50,000 and tried to break him. Is this what great nonprofits do or are supposed to be about?

Please realize that C.O.T.S. intentions were good at first, however they become quite misguided as they only help the people that they want to help. Anyone who gets in their way they will destroy in a heartbeat. To me, this is not what Great nonprofits do.

Don't take my word for any of this. There are records available at the Courthouse in Santa Rosa regarding C.O.T.S.'s activities. Thank you.

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

Fire everyone working there and start over from scratch with the intent of making C.O.T.S. what it was supposed to be instead of the shelter bully and monger that it is currently. I also would reduce the salaries of the brass who were making upwards of $50,000 per year.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I was introduced to Committee On The Shelterless (COTS) by a neighbor when we first moved to Petaluma. My relationship with COTS began simply by me dropping off donations. I then inquired about the food service program, because I could see they had a kitchen on site that was serving meals to the local residents. I offered to volunteer at the kitchen one day a week. I loved the experinece so much, I kept going. It's been over two years now. And I still love it just as if it was my first week volunteering. The Petaluma Kitchen staff make everyone feel welcomed. When I was laid off, I found the volunteering rewarding and it helped me get out of the house and be part of my community. I felt needed and respected.

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

After being laid off, I was so happy there was a safe place to go to get a warm meal. And volunteering helped me feel like I was giving back. Contributing. Not getting a "hand-out."

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

I would encourage our local government to support the kitchen in having the needed equipment, supplies and staffing to expand the services. The need is growing.

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Rating: 5 stars  

This is a non-profit that does NOT use the "patch-it up" approach, this organization works to solve the very issues that lead an individual or family to seek help to ensure that one can stand back on their own two feet, with self-confidence and hope. As their intro video says, everyone falls on their knees sometimes. I volunteered with COTS as a family team member, were I was matched with a family and other volunteers to support their growth and help them to reach their goals. I immediately repeated the experience because of the positive impact possible I saw in my first year as a volunteer!

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

as a volunteer, seeing the change in the lives in the individuals I worked with.

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

make it federally funded in every county in America.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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Rating: 5 stars  

COTS is nothing short of amazing. The staff is very competent across the board. Very caring and also demanding of clients as needed to get them back on their feet. They have innovative "treatments" like Tai Chi, and many programs (Rent right, for one) to help people get on their feet, working, and in suitable affordable housing. John Records is a driving loving force for good. He's brought many Petaluma citizen volunteers on board and donors on board to support COTS financially. I attribute the wonderful Mary Isaac Center's development to John's efforts in the community. Of course, many people contributed. Some formerly homeless people are now on staff making a huge difference in people lives. It's one of the many things that Petaluma can be very proud of.

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

I've watched the growth of the staff and the buildings in their endeavors. Years ago, I coached some staff members.

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

I can't think of anything that needs changing except the economy!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a volunteer for COTS in several capacities over the last 6 years. I stick around because it is always apparent to me that COTS is a well-run and effective organization. My time is put to good use and I always feel appreciated. There are many ways to help and it allows me to take action to help people rather than just write a check, though I am happy doing that too.

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

I have been a landlord to COTS graduates for almost 2 years and have been very happy with how well they take care of the house and yard; they have been excellent tenants thanks, in part, to what they learned in COTS Rent Right Program and ongoing support from COTS staff.

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

expand the shelter and add more transitional housing

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Rating: 5 stars  

COTS is a wonderful organization that assists the needed with a whole approach rather than piece meal. John Records is an outstanding role model and has such emphathy for all participants.

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

working with the Transitional housing participants.

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

can't say I would. They have all bases covered.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered at the COTS preschool program beginning in Feb. 2006. I admired the dedication of the teacher's and staff. They provided a caring, nurturing, secure and a valuable teaching experience for children from toddlers to grade school. The children flourished in this environment. It was wonderful to see the joy of learning, sharing and character building the children responded to. Both parents and children were fortunate to have been a part of these programs.

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

I have spoken to parents that had children in the programs and have heard positive results.

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

I would have these programs be to have top priority for funding the children's programs.

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

COTS is a remarkable organization that I have had the privilege of volunteering for a couple times. I would highly recommend anyone to choose COTS volunteering as a way to give back to the community, and to see an amazing integrated set of services in action. COTS is working to help homeless individuals and families recreate a life filled with hope and possibility. They provide physical shelter, resources, trainings, services and other innovative services (including mindfullness, trauma therapy, life skills) but what's incredibly unique is the human heartfulness that exudes from the organization. It is how they meet each person with full dignity that makes as much difference as all the services they provide.

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

the executive director who is a driving force behind the organization - John Records is one of the most wise, warm-hearted and skillful leaders I have encountered.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

COTS is the most effective non-profit agency that I have had the opportunity to witness. Through all of its work in supporting individuals who need a "hand up", COTS communicates a respect and unflagging optimism for the capacity of humans. I am grateful that COTS offers not just a bed and meal (though both crucial assets) to those in need, it also uses research-based tools to educate and renew/build positive skills and habits in the areas of parenting, money management, and finding and maintaining a good place to live. The leadership at COTS is visionary and has worked together with staff to create a comprehensive program that has been exported in many different settings. I can't say enough positive about the work of COTS.

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

the voices and faces of COTS' clients (including children) who have gotten their lives back on track.

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

the quality of commitment from everyone involved from the Executive Director - John Records - to all the staff and volunteers.

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

from across a wide gamut of background experiences, but all united with commitment to helping our neighbors get their lives and self-respect back in shape.

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

expand its highly-successful program model to other urban and suburban areas of high-need.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-12-01

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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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