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.
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.
I've spent some time around COTS and interacted with clients and staff. It's amazing how this organization not only provides "relief" to those in desperate need, but actually enables its homeless clients to build independent lives with dignity and comfort. There are so many elements to this labor of love--from resume building and job skills training to family counseling to education to spiritual support--not to mention the free meals and beds. And ultimately, the clients have to contribute too, which they do with warmth and enthusiasm, making COTS a culture of kindness.
COTS is perhaps the most caring, most demanding and most effective non profit in the region - if not the nation. Mr Records, the wise leader, has built a cadre of thinkers, workers and innovators who have been able to adjust and adapt to an ever changing economy, funding cycles and red tape. COTS stands out in a community of other effective non-profits that serve the community - due in part to a clear mission and purpose that were present from the very beginning. The "hand up, not a hand out" credo is a message that works with families and individuals who are without permanent housing."COTS helped me get back on my feet again.." is a comment I hear from former clients. The credo also works well with funders who are often suspicious of similar efforts in other places.
My association with COTS began in 1990 when I began delivering food to needy families in the Petaluma area. I have since volunteered in other capacities and have grown to regard COTS as an amazing organization that has saved hundreds of lives and improved the lives of thousands more. They do this with a small but dedicated staff that rallies hundreds of volunteers to serve the needs of homeless and needy people throughout Petaluma and southern Sonoma County.
COTS is a spectacular, inspiring place where miracles happen. People's lives are transformed. I have been a volunteer at COTS for the past several years and helped my colleagues establish a somatic trauma clinic there. The executive director, staff, and residents have received us most warmly and with deep gratitude. It's a blessing to be connected to COTS.
I love volunteering at the Mary Isaac Center. Everyone is very nice and they make me feel so appreciated while at the same time I am doing the same for them - by showing care and giving attention. This is a top notch organization. The rules are strict for one reason only - to help people get through this difficult time in their lives and get them back on their feet. With all the people I have come to know here, it is clearly visible that support and camaraderie exists amongst everyone. John Records tireless hours in building this valuable shelter into one of the finest in the country is something I will never forget in my lifetime.