Community Partners Bring New Life to Our Programs

February 27- Thanks to New Leaf Community Market employees, we now have a huge supply of reusable bags for Community Connections Participants to bring their food home in. We up-cycled Volunteer Center Human Race T-shirts left over from past events and turned them into fabulously functional bags.

At the Volunteer Center, we are fortunate to work with a host of local businesses who choose to be front and center with our programs by giving their time, knowledge, and resource.

These businesses “get it”- They care about the issues affecting our residents, they value community as a key part of their bottom line, and their actions achieve results that prove– doing good is good for business.

What we hear repeatedly from local businesses who have shifted their company values to include employee volunteerism, is that it ultimately leads to a positive cultural shift in their workplace and that employees feel a deeper sense of connection to fellow employees, their customers, and their company mission.

In the last year we’ve engaged businesses as volunteers for employee giving days, as co-promoters for featured community events, and as consultants sharing expertise with our team. We’ve loved every opportunity to think creatively with these businesses about how to best match their team with the community causes they most want to invest their time and energy towards.

A number of our local businesses have chosen to align their efforts with our Mental Health Program Community Connection. Thanks to these innovative community partnerships, Community Connection has made incredible strides this year in our newest program Healthy Connections.

With funding support from Central California Alliance for Health, the City of Santa Cruz and Kaiser Permanente, Healthy Connections uses evidence based programming to encourage a healthier mind and body. Through the program our participants are empowered to grow their own food in our garden, learn how to cook with the food they grow, and are also given opportunities to use the garden space for healthy activities.

Businesses and fellow non-profits have stepped up to help us deliver and expand this program. Kaiser employees spent hours this summer prepping and beautifying our garden site, Santa Cruz Warriors employees donated time and funds to build  2 new garden boxes, UCSC student interns built two more, and most recently employees from New Leaf spent the afternoon helping us craft reusable bags from recycled materials for our participants to bring their food home in.

Due to these efforts  participants have grown hundreds of pounds of food in the last year and the garden has become a central hub for new community connections.

Each week Yoga For All Movement brings certified adaptive yoga instructors to our site and our participants especially love to exercise and practice yoga in our garden space. Additionally, the Eco-Therapy Organization Living Evolution has been providing ukulele classes to our mental health community in the garden, and staff and clients regularly hold meetings in this outdoor space.

We are so grateful for our community partners for breathing new life into our Health Connections Program and we look forward to ongoing collaborations as we continue to enhance this program. If you are part of a local business or organization that wants to promote environmentally conscious choices, healthy eating, and an active lifestyle then we would love to partner with you to bolster our shared goals.

Together we can make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Santa Cruz County.

PARTNER WITH COMMUNITY CONNECTION:  Contact Community Connection Communication Manager Trea Robinson at   or call (831) 425-8132 ext. 202

NEED HELP DEFINING YOUR PRIORITIES: For those local businesses who would like help determining the best match for your community engagement goals, we invite you to reach out to our Volunteer Center Director of Community Development Mariah Tanner  at She can help you devise innovative strategies and a simple plan to meet community needs.

In partnership, we can each achieve our shared missions to lift up our community by combining our actions with your strategic business decisions.


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