Guadalupe was anxious and overwhelmed by the prospect of becoming a mother. When she joined the Home Visiting Program at Cope, her outlook, and her daughter’s life, were changed forever.
For over 15 years, Cope has been one of the nonprofit recipients of the funds raised at the Napa Valley Vintners’ (NVV) annual Auction Napa Valley. Becky Peterson, NVV’s Member and Community Relations Director, explained, “The event raises enough money to grant about $9 million dollars into the community every year. We provide funding to about 25 different nonprofits. They are all strong and Cope is one of the strongest. Cope has had consistently good management, foresight and strategic thinking. We’ve always been happy with the results and the impact in the community.”
In addition to providing services to families that walk through our doors each day, Cope is dedicated to taking action on issues that affect the well-being of families today and for future generations. “We are committed to making sure children and families have the resources they need,” said Executive Director Michele Grupe. “So we have really increased our efforts with regards to advocacy, community education and civic engagement."
Joanna first got involved with Cope Family Center in 2009 during our inaugural Rock and Stroll Fun Run. When her gym formed a fundraising team, Joanna enthusiastically joined and ended up being the top fundraiser that year. After learning more about our work, touring our Family Resource Center and meeting the staff, Joanna decided to make Cope one of her philanthropic priorities. “The first time I came to Cope,” Joanna recalled, “I thought that if I were a parent in need, this is where I would want to come to get help. It was such a warm, welcoming and safe environment.”
To those around her, Debbie appeared to be Super Mom. She had a successful career as a realtor. She volunteered in her kids’ classrooms, chaperoned field trips, served on 4H committees and volunteered with Napa Little League. She seemed to effortlessly balance the demands of her career and the challenges of being a single mom. But behind closed doors, Debbie struggled to manage it all and would often find herself losing her patience with her three children.
Decades before her life as a Napa Valley winery owner and philanthropist, Jo Ann Truchard was a school teacher in Austin, Texas. “My first year of teaching, I taught 3rd grade in a low income part of town,” recalled Jo Ann. “I’ll never forget a little girl named Barbara. She was overweight and every time she would make a mistake, she’d say things to herself, like ‘Oh, you’re so clumsy. You are just like a cow.’ When I asked her why she said that, she responded, ‘People always say that to me.’ I told her that wasn’t true, that she was a special gift from God. It was so sad. I’m sure her parents loved her, but they weren’t very kind to her.”
Jackie learned about Cope as a new mother in the 1980s. Several of the women in her moms’ group were volunteers at Cope. With a background in social services, Jackie knew how important it was to support struggling parents. “I felt that Cope’s work with the family as a whole unit was really important and would help build a good strong community by helping reduce the stress of parenting,” Jackie recalled. “So, I started out as a volunteer on the parent hotline and later got involved as a Board member. Over the years, I’ve assisted with fundraising, served on committees and helped with various administrative projects.”
Program Director Julie Murphy has long been interested in supporting parents in parenting, even before she was a parent herself. Over the past twelve years at Cope, she has helped provide countless families with the support they need to provide a safe, loving and healthy home for their children. "Many families come to Cope filled with fear and concern,” Julie shared. “As we spend a little bit of time with them, we see the change on their faces as they start to realize they've come to the right place.”
When Iren first learned of Cope from friends, she was interested in learning more and, at some point, getting involved. Her commitment to our mission was cemented about a year later when three year old Kayleigh Slusher died at the hands of her mother and her boyfriend. “The heartbreaking story impacted me so much that I couldn’t sleep at night,” Iren said. “I thought about my children, my grandchildren and my nieces and nephews. I couldn’t fathom how one child could be so privileged and another child so vulnerable that she could be killed by the people who were supposed to protect her”.
We met Amadu and his family when they came to Cope Family Center seeking help after the devastating Napa Complex Fires. Amadu, a single dad, was at work when the evacuation advisory for his neighborhood was issued on October 11. Despite the dire situation, his employer wouldn’t permit him to leave to get his three children. Due to past trauma, the stress triggered Amadu’s PTSD which resulted in his employer putting him on unpaid leave. Though he had applied for state disability benefits, he hadn’t yet received payments by the time he came to Cope. Desperate for assistance paying his rent so he could keep a roof over his family’s head, Amadu applied for an Emergency Financial Assistance grant, a disaster relief fund distributed by Cope and funded by the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
As Chief Probation Officer for Napa County, Mary Butler has seen firsthand the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect. “When I walk into Juvenile Hall, I see children who would rather be locked up than go home,” she said. “Adolescents tend to act out a little bit more. They get into trouble. They are brought into Juvenile Hall and they’re identified as the problem. But when you dig a little deeper, you find out their home life is very chaotic. They may or may not have a home. They may not have food for meals. They gain 20-30 pound while in Juvenile Hall because it is the first time they’ve had three meals every day. Kids have told me ‘If I’m here at Christmas, I’ll get a Christmas present. But if I leave before the Christmas party, I won’t get any presents this year.’ It breaks your heart. Kids shouldn’t be in Juvenile Hall to get a Christmas present.”
Cecilia first came to Cope when she was pregnant with twins. Having grown up in an abusive home, struggling to make ends meet, estranged from the baby’s father and without supportive family nearby, Cecilia felt unprepared for motherhood. “I knew I was going to be a single parent of twins. And that in itself was terrifying. So I was actively seeking a support system in my community and I found it here at Cope,” Cecilia said.
Rosanna has been volunteering at Cope since August. “When I was researching organizations to get involved with, I was really impressed with how Cope focuses on prevention,” Rosanna said. “Their work creates a ripple effect through generations. Helping parents today impacts their children and their children’s children. That really inspired me and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
When Kathy Glass first got involved with Cope four years ago, she was impacted by the families she met. “I got to meet some of the families Cope serves,” she explained. “And it really touched my heart. I decided to do whatever I can to stay involved with this organization because they do the right thing.”
Working at our Family Resource Center (FRC) front desk, Magali is often the first person people meet when they come through Cope’s doors. As our Resource Specialist, she helps identify families’ needs and connect them with the appropriate resources. Sometimes it’s as simple as distributing diapers or a gift card. But often, parents don’t know what resources are available.
Gretchen started coming to Cope about 30 years ago, at a time in her life when she struggled to care for her young children. “I was an addict for many years,” Gretchen explained. “When my kids were younger, Cope helped me out with diapers and formula. Eventually I lost custody of my children because I couldn’t be the parent they needed.”