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Meet Julie Long, SAY’s Volunteer and Food Program Coordinator

Julie Long

SAY's Volunteer and Food Program Coordinator Julie Long shows off her Corn Chowder recipe

AmeriCorps Member Julie Long joined SAY last November, and quickly rose to the challenge of creating a new food program at our Dr. Coffee Teen Shelter. With Julie’s help, we began serving hot, homemade meals to hungry teens daily at the shelter. We’ve always had food on offer to the homeless youth who drop in for services at our shelter, but with a dedicated staff member, and help from volunteers, our program has truly transformed. Recently, a young teen shared that: “It’s so nice to ring the door bell at the shelter now, because I know that I’m going to get a home cooked meal” One of Julie’s specialties is this delicious Corn Chowder, which has become a big hit with the teens, “The food we have been getting served lately is so delicious, the corn chowder especially because it’s so creamy and I love bacon!

We’re celebrating Julie this month in honor of AmeriCorps week, please join us in celebrating the commitment of AmeriCorps members and alums and recognizing the extraordinary impact AmeriCorps makes across our nation every day. AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

AmeriCorps Week AmeriCorps’ members make a powerful impact on critical problems and on the lives of its members and the communities they serve. Here at SAY, Julie serves as our volunteer coordinator and food coordinator. Earlier this month, Julie was chosen as the AmeriCorps Member of the Month by the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Sacramento. They could not have picked a more deserving recipient—Julie goes above and beyond, and exemplifies the meaning of AmeriCorps – she dives right into getting things done!

Here is what our staff are saying about Julie. “She is such a wonderful presence in our agency, and her sunny personality shines in what can be a busy, sometimes high stress job. She’s always willing to go above and beyond in her work and knows where to put her efforts: in making sure that homeless and hungry youth living on the streets on Sonoma County have warm, hearty meals to keep them full and to keep their spirits high. She’s been a wonderful addition to our team and we can’t imagine what we did without her just a few months ago. Julie is always reaching out to volunteers or organizing so that kids get fed. Julie has the shelter stocked with food like it has never been before – this will allow us to serve over 1,500 home-cooked meals to homeless youth this year.”

Below, we share one of our teen’s favorite meals; we hope that you will enjoy this with your family and have a conversation with them about youth homelessness and hunger. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact Julie at (707) 544-3299 x215 or email You can also tour the teen shelter monthly, and see our kitchen in action. Click here to RSVP for the next tour.

Julie’s Corn Chowder Recipe Recipe

Julie Long's Corn Chowder

Julie Long's Corn Chowder

  • 1 package bacon (10oz-18oz)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 can sweet corn, un-drained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (10oz-15oz)
  • 4-5 Medium-size Potatoes, cubed
  • 3-4 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

*Reminder- only drain one of the cans of corn, you will need the juice from the other*


  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, sauté the bacon, onions and garlic together until tender (about 7 minutes)
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan add the milk, cream of mushroom soup, and the un-drained can of corn and warm over medium heat.
  3. Next, add the other can of corn, the carrots and the potatoes into the pot.
  4. Once the bacon is cooked, drain the grease and then place the bacon into the pot.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Want to help support our food program? We’ve put together a wishlist for our kitchen. Click here to donate.

With cold weather, more teens are turning to the Dr. Coffee Teen Shelter for help

The weather has been exceptionally cold this week, with lows in the teens in some areas of Sonoma County. A lot of homeless youth living on the streets are wary of staying in shelters, but with the extreme temperatures we’ve seen lately, sleeping bags aren’t enough. A warm bed, a shower, and a safe place to stay are absolute necessities when it’s freezing outside. This weekend at our Teen Shelter, we had 3 homeless youth come in from the cold. One of the youth said that when he’s outside, he sleeps in bushes, or tries to find empty houses or garages. He said he wanted to come to the teen shelter because he knew it would be warm, and he knew that sleeping under a bush wouldn’t be safe. Once he found the Dr. Coffee Teen Shelter, he brought two homeless friends to come stay with us as well.

Nicole Garces, a counselor at the Dr. Coffee House was relieved to know that the teens were safe, “it was so cold just walking from the shelter to my car, it made me so grateful to know that the teens who came to us were safe and warm.”

In addition keeping teens safe, we’re serving hot, homemade meals at the Dr. Coffee Teen Shelter. In the past 6 months we served over 750 meals to drop in street youth. Our food program, coordinated by AmeriCorps member Julie Long is gearing up to serve healthy, delicious meals to even more youth in the coming months. We’ll be working with volunteers to cook meals for teens at the shelter, if you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch! Julie’s phone number is (707) 544-3299 x215 or email

The 2011 Beat the Cold BBQ

There are 701 homeless youth estimated to be on the streets in Sonoma County each night

There are 701 homeless youth estimated to be on the streets in Sonoma County each night

On December 9, 2011, over 200 people joined SAY for a night in the cold at our second annual Beat the Cold BBQ to end youth homelessness. We invited folks to bring us a pair of socks for a homeless youth, and were overwhelmed by our community’s generous outpouring of support.

Over 3,000 pairs of socks were donated, along with hundreds of scarves, gloves, jackets, and sweatshirts. Our street outreach team have been so happy to be able to give homeless teens the supplies they need to keep safe and warm on the streets this winter. Attendees of the event also pledged over $60,000 over the next 5 years!

The event was held at SAY’s Dr. James E Coffee Teen Shelter and was sponsored by La Tortilla Factory, with food provided by Dierk’s Parkside Cafe, Rendez Vous Bistro, Lilajay’s Baked Goods, and Whole Foods Market. County Supervisor Mike McGuire spoke at the event, along side SAY’s Executive Director Matt Martin, and our entire community came together to support our homeless and hungry teens. We so are grateful for everyone’s support.

Photographer Peter Lundblad joined us to take photos at the event, check out the photos below:

Join SAY at our Beat the Cold BBQ

2011 Beat the Cold BBQ

Over 701 homeless kids will sleep on the streets of Sonoma County tonight.

SAY helps.

Join SAY at our 2nd Annual Beat the Cold BBQ to end youth homelessness, and share a hot meal and a warm beverage with SAY and the Coffee House staff.

The price of admission is a new pair of socks for a homeless youth. Please dress warmly! This BBQ will be an outdoor event, come rain or (moon)shine.

Date: Friday, December 9, 2011
Time: 7-9pm
Location: the Coffee House Teen Shelter: 1243 Ripley St. Santa Rosa, CA
Price of admission: 1 new pair of socks for a homeless youth

RSVP: Click on the link below to RSVP. Have questions? Call Caitlin at 544-3299 x231


Please pass this invite on to friends!

Rebuilding Together At the Coffee House

On Saturday, April 30 volunteers from the group Rebuilding Together came out to SAY’s Dr. James E Coffee House Teen Shelter to replace the floors in the living and dining room, rebuild the emergency exit stairs, update the bathrooms, and to help clean up the landscaping at the teen shelter. It was an enormous project spearheaded by volunteers from Wright Contracting with materials supplied by Friedman’s Home Improvement.

With all of the work completed in one whirlwind day, shelter staff were amazed at how quickly the transformation took place. Anita Rosales, Program Manager for Crisis and Outreach Services at SAY said that she cannot wait to welcome teens to the new space, “It’s so much more welcoming now, I know that it will help us in making a great first impression for any teen who comes to us in crisis.”

The Coffee House Teen Shelter is Sonoma County’s only 24/7 emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth ages 12-17. Coffee House staff provide youth with free food, a safe place to stay, and a friendly ear. Counselors working at Coffee House work with youth and families to help them solve problems, and learn communication skills. Last year, our staff served over 1,100 meals to hungry youth.

You can see some photos from the day here:

Coffee House is located at 1243 Ripley Ave in Santa Rosa. For crisis help call 800-544-3299.

Call to Action: Ask Congress to help protect homeless youth

Dear Friends,

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has asked SAY and other organizations to pass on this important message about federal funding for homeless and runaway youth. This is a topic near to our hearts at SAY, since so many of the teens we work with have run away or are homeless.

In December, Congress passed a temporary stopgap funding measure to fund the government until March 4. Now, Congress is beginning to draft their final FY 2011 funding bills.

We are writing to ask that you contact your representatives and ask them to ensure that the final funding bill include at least the recommended $126 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs and $70 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) programs.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs help prevent exploitation of youth on the streets and support reconnection to their families, schools, employment, and housing options. At SAY, this funding is critical in helping us to keep our Coffee House Teen Shelter and Street Outreach programs going.

I urge you to contact your representatives’ offices TODAY and ask them to ensure that the final FY 2011 appropriations bill includes at least:

  • $126 million for HHS’ Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs; and
  • $70 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program.

You can download a one-page pdf fact sheet with talking points here.

Contact Your Representatives Today:

US Congressman Mike Thompson, California District 1
1040 Main Street, Suite 101 Napa, CA 94559
(707) 226-9898
Web form:

US Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, California District 6
1101 College Avenue Suite 200 Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 542-7182
Web form:

Ask your Senator to Vote for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has asked SAY and other organizations to pass on this important message about federal funding for homeless and runaway youth. This is a topic near to our hearts at SAY, since so many of the teens we work with have runaway or are homeless.

On Wednesday night, the House passed a fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding bill that would provide $116 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs in FY 2011 – the same amount of funding as in FY 2010. The House legislation funded nearly all programs at the exact same level as in FY 2010.

Now, attention turns toward the Senate, which will try to pass its OWN version of the legislation next week. Over the summer, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would provide $124 million in FY 2011 for RHYA programs. If the Senate cannot pass its version of the FY 2011 legislation, known as an omnibus, it will try to pass the House bill.

I urge you to contact your senators’ offices TODAY and ask them to fight to keep at least the Senate’s recommended funding level of $124 million in any final FY 2011 legislation the Senate passes.

You can download a one-page pdf fact sheet here.

Contact our senators today:

Senator Barbara Boxer
(202) 224-3553
Web Form:

Senator Dianne Feinstein
(202) 224-3841
Web Form:

SAY’s Beat the Cold BBQ

On Friday December 3rd, over 125 people joined us at our first ever Beat the Cold BBQ. Entry for the event was a new pair of socks for a homeless youth. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters. Guests brought coats, scarves, gloves, socks, and cold weather gear of all sorts to SAY’s Dr. James E. Coffee House Teen Shelter, Sonoma County’s only 24/7 shelter for runaway and homeless youth.

Event sponsors La Tortilla Factory, Big River Coffee and Whole Foods Market at Coddingtown supplied the food and warm drinks, while Friedman’s Home Improvement donated tarps and lanterns for our Street Outreach Team to pass on to homeless youth. SAY’s Executive Director Matt Martin kicked off the BBQ with a heartfelt speech about the issues homeless teens face, and how SAY helps some of Sonoma County’s most vulnerable youth. Matt’s speech is below:

Matt Martin, Executive Director of SAY speaks at the Beat the Cold BBQ

Hello, my name is Matt Martin and I am here to inspire you- inspire you to feel, think, reflect, and act.

People are unaware that there are homeless youth living in Sonoma County. Those who do see homeless youth believe that they are “just passing through”. The reality is that they live here – in the parks, in encampments, under bridges, in cars, on the floors of other people’s living rooms. These youth are our youth. And, they are lives that have heard no too many times. We are here tonight to SAY yes, as a community.

Though it is very difficult to estimate how many homeless youth there are in Sonoma County, there are approximately 1,100 homeless youth in Sonoma County. In January 2009, homeless and former homeless youth conducted a homeless youth count. This was the first time a homeless count specifically focusing on youth had ever been done. Although the count was conducted on a very cold, rainy afternoon and youth were worried that the bad weather would result in a significant undercount, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. they still managed to count 256 homeless youth who had no place at all to go to get out of the hail and rain.

Some findings from the count included: 24% had been surviving on the streets for more than one year; 25% were told to leave their homes after an argument; 62% admitted to drug abuse. 83% use marijuana, 50% use heroin and 24% use methamphetamines or crack; 63% lack a high school diploma yet 70% see employment as their only hope of leaving the streets; 66% did not get enough to eat on any given day; 28% said they were experiencing a mental illness (49% Depression and 19% Post –Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Many youth in the foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health systems become homeless when they leave these systems. Other youth run away to protect themselves, but once out on the street they become highly vulnerable and can wind up in dangerous situations. Without food, clothing, or shelter, they often turn to drugs and can become easy targets for sexual predators and physical assault. Many wind up in jail. Ignoring this situation is not only inhumane, it is very expensive. It costs the community approximately $145,000 per year to house a young person at Juvenile Hall. SAY is able to reunite that same young person with their family for approximately $1,600.

In the last six months, the Street Outreach team has made 1,344 contacts with youth ages 12-24, handing out 3,600 health/hygiene products and providing 7,200 meals and snacks to youth living in encampments, under bridges, and on the streets. Contacts have been primarily in the Santa Rosa area.

We reduce teen homelessness and improve community health by providing outreach services to youth who are living on the streets (health kits, socks, sleeping bags, food), as well as counseling and referrals. Our team helps youth leave dangerous situations, find housing, return to school, and get appropriate counseling.

Give Now to Change a Life

Below, are some photos from the event:

Join SAY at our Beat the Cold BBQ

There are over 1,100 homeless or runaway youth in Sonoma County.

In the past year, SAY’s Dr. James E Coffee House Teen Shelter housed over 100 homeless and runaway youth for one or more nights. Almost all of them cited intense family conflict as the reason they were on the streets, or had run away from home. With help from the Coffee House staff, 93% of the youth who stayed at the Coffee House were safely reunited with their families. Coffee House Staff served over 11,000 meals to hungry teens.

On December 3rd, we invite you to come share a hot meal and a warm beverage with SAY and the Coffee House staff, for a BBQ to raise awareness about teen homelessness.

Friday December 3, 2010


At the Dr. James E Coffee House Teen Shelter

1243 Ripley St. Santa Rosa, CA

Cost: The price of admission for this BBQ is a new pair of socks for a homeless youth.

Please dress warmly! This BBQ will be an outdoor event, come rain or (moon)shine.

RSVP to:

Caitlin Childs,

Our Sponsors

Big River Coffee Company

La Tortilla Factory

Friedman’s Home Improvement

Green Mary Zero Waste Events

Whole Foods Market, Coddingtown

November is National Runaway Prevention Month

This November is the 9th Annual National Runaway Prevention Month, a subject that we know a lot about here at SAY. Since 1991, our Coffee House Teen Shelter has been a safe haven for homeless and runaway youth throughout Sonoma County. Whatever their situation, teens can turn to the Coffee House for a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, and a staff that truly cares about listening to them, and getting them the help they need. In the past year alone, SAY has provided services to 271 runaway and homeless youth, but the sad truth is that there are more youth out there, who may not know where to get help.

That’s why we need your help to spread the word. Please help us by emailing your friends, family and coworkers. Send them a link to this blog post, or to our youtube video: Inside the Dr. James E Coffee House Teen Shelter. Or get involved by donating to the Coffee House, you can make a financial donation online, or donate blankets, coats, gloves and scarves by dropping them off at the Coffee House.

The Coffee House is located at 1243 Ripley St. in Santa Rosa. Call us at (707) 546-3234 or 800-544-3299.