Mayra Arreguin and Neidi Calvillo transport presents to wrap them for 400 different children as part of La Familia Sana's toy drive.

Slowly but surely, La Familia Sana, a nonprofit organization in Cloverdale, is working on being known in the community. By focusing on outreach, La Familia Sana, which started in 2019, hopes all of the Cloverdale community will eventually know they can go to them for help.

So far, several families have become clients of La Familia Sana. So far, the organization has provided some of its clients with rental assistance, free mental health counseling, presents for children for this Christmas season as well as assistance with vaccination. However, La Familia Sana wants to reach as many people as possible with the help of future partnerships and collaborations.

During the Kincade Fire, Neidi Calvillo, now one of La Familia Sana’s outreach advocates, volunteered at a local evacuation center, taking food to different elderly apartment complexes, tried to get the word out and helped provide electricity when power was out.

“The person guiding all the volunteers was Zeke (Guzman), who is our founder. In 2020, he reached out to us and said if we wanted to volunteer at the food bank, because they were able to get the food bank to come here and give out food,” Calvillo said.

“It was just crazy to see how many people really needed the assistance. Then I saw that they had a job opening this July. I was just thinking about it for a whole week. Then I was like, I really want to do that,” she said.

“There’s just something about helping people and seeing them smile, you know? Sometimes, I even want to cry with relief knowing that they won’t be evicted, or their children will have food on the table. My parents always taught me to help,” said Calvillo, who is the daughter of undocumented farmworkers.

She has multiple duties within La Familia Sana which include finding resources for items people need, reaching out to the community constantly, helping them get vaccination appointments, among other services.

La Famlia Sana is made up of board members Ann Elston, Bob Scott, Chelene Lopez, Daniel (Danny) Ayala-Ortiz, Luis Vargas-Jimenez, Montserrat Archila, Rebecca Ennis, Robert Martinez and Tod Hill. With their support a team of three works almost everyday on the necessities of the Cloverdale community.

Jade Weymouth serves as executive director and Calvillo and Mayra Arreguin serve as outreach advocates.

Arreguin focuses on outreach and helping community members as much as possible. She is originally from Jalisco, Mexico and has been a Cloverdale resident for 15 years. A former farmworker, she said she left her country because she dreamed of living in the U.S.

“I am a single mom, which is why I identify with the women I meet who do not have husbands because I can comprehend how they feel,” she said, speaking Spanish.

“When you have to pay your bills and sometimes you do not know what to do. I get them,” the mother of three said.

One of Arreguin’s clients is a 25-year-old single mother of 4-month-old baby and an 8-year-old. She’s lived in Cloverdale for three months after moving from Nayarit, Mexico.

 “I wanted a better future for my daughters. I got here through my ex-partner but now I am alone. My social worker told me about La Familia Sana because I needed help paying my rent,” she said, speaking Spanish.

“They have been helping me with absolutely everything. Mayra has even given me rides, they have helped me get formula for my baby, funds for my daughters, diapers — everything. I did not know about them until the social worker told me but had it not been for her I might have never known,” she said.

Arreguin started as a volunteer when La Familia Sana was first created; she met Guzman when he visited her apartment complex and joined him in efforts to help the community. For Arreguin, it brings her an adrenaline rush to help others.

“It is like this excitement. I cannot describe it but I feel very happy,” she said.

“I would like to provide more help to farmworkers, I used to see racism in the job. Even among the Latinx community I would see how they would treat new employees. We do not take care of each other, instead of being united, sometimes we are more divided,” Arreguin said.

Rafaela Baltazar, 41, is another client of La Familia Sana. She is a single mother of three and met Arreguin at her apartment complex. Baltazar said Arreguin has helped her with rent assistance as well as funds for food.

“I have no words to thank her,” Baltazar, who is a farmworker, said in Spanish. She is currently not working because of the season.

“They have supported me so much and continue to support me,” Baltazar said. Now she tells her friends and relatives about La Familia Sana in order to spread the word. Baltazar also got vaccinated with their help.

“I was scared in the beginning. I heard so many things but then I just made the decision. I am glad we got vaccinated as well as my children,” she said.

Josefina Andrade is currently receiving mental health counseling through the organization. Andrade met Arreguin through a local food bank and told her about her struggles.

“She has helped me get through my depression, I told her she was my guardian angel, I felt like I was going crazy,” Andrade said, talking about the current grief process she is going through from a personal loss.

“I had never done counseling this is the first time and it has helped me, I used to just want to lay in bed. I am very thankful,” she said.

Brought on as executive director, Weymouth was approached by a board member to help with their mission, vision and values workshop.

 “As soon as I started to read about what the work was, and the population it was for, I considered my own background. My great-grandparents were farmworkers, my grandmother was an organizer, my great-grandfather was an organizer too and my mom worked at the community and was an advocate. So for me, that was like my roots,” Weymouth said. 

 “I saw Zeke’s enthusiasm and passion and the board’s enthusiasm and passion. For me, it was like yes, I’m passionate about this as well. I think that we need to help the Latinx community up here. We need to bridge the resources in Cloverdale, Geyserville and Healdsburg,” she said.

“There’s a huge divide in the community in terms of representation and access and equity,” Weymouth said.

“It just was so gut instinct, this is what I needed to do. It’s my community where I live, my daughter’s gonna grow up here, I have a legacy of my own family of ensuring that campesinos, and the most marginalized in our communities always have resources and always have a space to go to that is safe and that is culturally aware,” she said.

At the time, the organization does not have a physical building but is in the works of getting office space. Weymouth said the organization is working on collaborating more with the county and other organizations to bring more resources as well as more partnerships.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that Ezequiel (“Zeke”) Guzman is on the La Familia Sana. While Guzman founded the nonprofit, he does not sit on the board.

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