Napa is a region known worldwide for its wineries and tourism, and it is also a region that, like many other places, is suffering during this time of crisis. However, for the Latino community, especially the undocumented population, the impact has been more significant due to the lack of assistance programs. Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center, known as Puertas Abiertas, is an organization that continues to advocate for the most vulnerable, especially the undocumented and indigenous community in Napa.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the organization has raised more than $65,000in private contributions from Comcast, Redwood Credit Union, Travis Credit Union, Silicon Valley Bank Even residents who have kindly donated their stimulus checks to the organization, among others. They provide financial aid to clients, unemployment and Medi-Cal application assistance, employment referrals, housing applications, food resources, and other resources. While also continuing their day-to-day operations, such as Census outreach, virtual English classes, Telehealth counseling services, immigration services, legal referrals, and more.
“The greatest needs among the community are rental assistance and food insecurity. Since the shelter in place order became effective, more than 500 families have contacted us seeking financial assistance for rent, food and bill payments. Most of the families we serve are not eligible for government aid due to their immigration status,” said Blanca Huijon, Executive Director for Puertas Abiertas.
Puertas Abiertas has been supporting the Napa community since 2005. It provides free tax clinics, rental assistance–through their Seasons of Sharing program, immigration referral services, and volunteer opportunities, among other things. The organization helped 1,971 families and impacted over 7,884 individuals during the last fiscal year, and over 69% of those reported an income lower than $30,000 a year.
The organization played a critical role in the community during the 2017 North Bay Fires, helping over 2,000 individuals with financial assistance, food, clothing, financial literacy classes, and transferable skills classes.
“We are bracing ourselves for a potential triple crisis in the near future with the pandemic, Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), and fire season. It’s challenging, but if you have your heart with your community, you will make things happen to relieve the vulnerable and underserved communities’ burden,” said Huijon.
To learn more about Puertas Abiertas or to donate, please visit: www.puertasabiertasnapa.org.