#Sacramento #Volunteer Champion: #CHOC Services’ Terri Smyth-Canillo

22 May
Way To Go VITA Service Champions!!

Way To Go VITA Service Champions!!

Terri’s Certificate of Recognition via Assemblymember Roger Dickinson. Congratulations, Terri!

On May 2, 2013,  Seventh (7th) District Assemblymember Roger Dickinson took time to recognize local, volunteer champions with certificates of recognition from the California State Assembly.

CHOC Services’ Terri Smyth-Canillo was amongst a group of nine individuals who made a difference this year, organizing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout Sacramento County during tax season.

VITA assists working families and individuals claim applicable tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and file state and federal income taxes, free of charge.

Terri is a terrific example of community assistance in action.  Our thanks to to Assemblymember Dickinson for acknowledging Terri’s volunteerism and for Terri’s active, critical support of  VITA, CHOC and the greater Sacramento community!

– Angie López, CHOC Staff and Social Media Community Manager *** An Advocate for Asset Building and Community Investment. 


@NeighborWorks’ #Social #Technology Symposium: Is It Time to Rethink Your #NonProfit #Website?

13 May

Is It Time to Rethink Your Website?
Farra Trompeter, Big Duck
Location: Meeting Room C124, Level 1, Oregon Convention Center
Does your website give users what they need, how they want to find it? Join this workshop as social media expert Farra Trompeter highlights best practices and facilitates a peer review of your organization’s website(s).
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

CHOC is currently redesigning its own website, so this workshop’s timing was excellent (more in a moment)!

Farra Trompeter (of Big Duck in Brooklyn, NYC) began with a great baseline discussion regarding non-profit organizations’ unique needs and how content can powerfully meet mission and begin strategically powerful conversation.

Using websites from major non-profits such as UNICEF (and some constructive website peer-review), Farra explained how she organizes and drives website development for her non-profit clients.

Farra expertly covered the following website redesign and review elements:

  • Goals, Audiences and Target Personas
  • Defining and Utilizing Responsive Design
  • Design and Branding
  • Technology and Analytics

Farra shared our favorite event infographic (see attached image, “Is It Time to Rethink Your Website?”).  We think this information is worth its weight in gold and helpful to any organization undergoing a website redesign.

Big Duck's Farra Trompeter introduced a fantastic flow chart / infographic on website redesign.

Big Duck’s Farra Trompeter introduced a fantastic flow chart / infographic on website redesign.

We were happy to learn that CHOC is on the right track with our current website designer Gretchen Bily; Gretchen is a believer in responsive design, Google analytics and prefers to take her own photos versus using stock imagery, a point Farra discussed during her workshop.

We were also thrilled to make Farra’s aquaintance after this workshop (prior to Wednesday’s #SocialTechNTI opening events at Hilton Portland).

If you’d like to learn more about Farra’s consultancy Big Duck and her work with NeighborWorks and other non-profit organizations, please click here.

– Angie López, CHOC Staff and Social Media Community Manager *** An Advocate for Asset Building and Investing in Our Communities.  

@NeighborWorks’ #Social #Technology Symposium: What’s Your (#NonProfit) Social Media #Brand Voice?

13 May

Creating Great Content for Social Media: A Strategy Workshop
Luvvie Ajayi, Red Pump Project
Location: Meeting Room C120-121, Level 1, Oregon Convention Center                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How do you create engaging and relevant content to share across your social media platforms? This workshop, lead by award winning writer and social media strategist Lovette Ajayi, will teach you how to curate content that works.

Luvvie Ajayi opened her session with a question for the non-profits in attendence (and any organization on social media):  How do you create #engaging, #impactful, and #relevant content via social media…consistantly?                          

She cited the thoughtful creation of unique social media “brand voice” (with a clear  strategic plan) as critical to effectively sharing – and engaging – followers with your non profit organization’s stories (i.e. content).

During this workshop we discussed the importance of established, non-profit goals and how our organization brand voice must always support Mission when we utilize social media as a communication tool.   Luvvie identifed four (4) areas where brand voice must be defined, clear and consistent when social media is used by anyone in an organization:

Handout from content workshop with Luvvit

Handout from content workshop with Luvvie 4.7.13

CHOC’s social media brand voice is as follows:

Character/Persona: Friendly, Warm and Inspiring

Tone: Humble, Personal, Professional and Direct

Language:  Fun, Simple, Everyday

Purpose:  To Engage, Inform, Enable, Inspire and Educate

Luvvie also shared suggestions on how to evaluate and approach different social media platforms, valuable insights on how to begin an easy transition onto social media and the real-world benefits that are possible with relationships begun via social media i.e. new and improved fulfillment of non-profit Mission.

– Angie López, CHOC Staff and Social Media Community Manager *** An Advocate for Asset Building and Investing in Our Communities.  

#CHOC’s #IDA Program: A Danbury Park #Success Story

12 Apr

Our residents inspire us! The investment in Asset Building programs that encourage greater personal aspiration and achievement are an important focus for CHOC.  A primary  example of an Asset Building Tool CHOC utilizes is Individual Development Accounts (IDA).

An IDA is a matched savings program that implements a foundation of financial fitness/literacy/education as a fundamental component to economic and financial growth resulting in Asset Wealth Building, which is integral to CHOC’s Mission.  CHOC’s IDA program was funded by grant monies from Assets for Independence a partnership with California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH).  The match was a 3:1 ratio; for every dollar a participant saved in a secure custodial account,  it was matched 3:1 upon completion of the program and put towards an asset purchase.  Qualifying Asset Purchases include  Small Business Start-Up or Expansion, the Purchase of First Home and Post-Secondary Education.

IDA Program Requirements are as follows:  complete 8 hours of financial fitness workshops, meet regularly with program coordinator to implement the financial tools from these courses i.e. budgeting, credit consolidation/improvement and consistently saving for a minimum of six (6) months and up to 2 years.  In addition every participant chooses an Asset Goal and completes the specific requirements of that Asset Purchase.  For example participants pursuing a Small Business must write a completed business plan, with assistance from experts from the Small Business Administration-SBA/Small Business Development Center-SBDC.  Participants seeking homeownership must attend an 8 hour homeownership course at a local NeighborWorks Home Ownership Counseling Center. And finally, for those who are interested in continuing their education or attending an accredited vocational institution; they will meet with a counselor from that school/program and create an educational plan.

CHOC strongly believes in encouraging residents to invest in themselves and build a supportive network within the community in which they live.

CHOC’s IDA program is designed to encourage participants to create a supportive network of experts to provide guidance throughout the duration of their Asset Building journey.  An excellent example is Deborah Hill, one of CHOC’s IDA graduates.  Her Asset Goal: “I wanted to better myself and become a successful business woman.”  Deborah’s journey to discover the definition of “a successful business woman” was-and is-inspiring. Beginning with her initial interest in 2010 – and over the course of ten months – she built a supportive network of experts, increased her knowledge of how to build a successful business and cultivated her passion; Deborah has been a longtime resident at CHOC’s Danbury Park property in Antelope, CA and is active in community events and activities on-site.

Deborah Hill & her mentor Mr. Green @ the SBDC

Deborah Hill & her mentor Mr. Green @ the SBDC

During this time of discovery and learning new best practices,  she experienced multiple challenges. With CHOC staff guidance, and the help of SBA/SBDC, she designed a business plan that would evolve.  Recently I got the opportunity to get together with Deborah at our regular meeting location, the Danbury Park Community Room. It was here that we continued to travel down the path of identifying and defining Deborah as:  A Businesswoman, An Entrepreneur and Capable Visionary.  An additional meeting was set-up with SBDC business counselor, Mr. Clyde Greene to discuss the reconstruction of her business.  This new plan, included a consignment sale of her inventory to create economic capital and to shift her energies to a line of business with a growing interest and revenue.

Custome designed wedding brooms and nuptual blessings by Deb

Custom designed wedding brooms and nuptial blessings by Deb

Deborah’s original small business start-up “The Dipping Fountain”, posed a challenge after some recent health challenges that she faced.  Therefore, shifting to a smaller business output of designing custom wedding brooms accompanied with nuptial blessing certificates served as a creative outlet for Deborah and a tool to increase her income.  Deborah Hill, A Businesswoman, Asset Builder and proud CHOC resident.

By Angie López, CHOC Staff and Community Manager An Advocate for Asset Building and Supporter of Investing in Our Communities.  

#Asset Building: #Empowerment and #Sustainability for #CHOC #Communities

9 Apr
CHOC supports Financial Literacy and partners with CFED

CHOC supports Financial Literacy and partners with CFED

CHOC  supports increasing the capacity of our residents to improve their individual and collective quality of life.  Leveraging the power of local associations and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.  CHOC Services and On-Site management are valuable in the creation the relationships necessary for Asset Building programs to be of service and successful in encouraging the wealth and knowledge development of our residents.

A core tenant of CHOC’s Asset Building practicum is structured around building a healthy relationship with a financial institutions and maximizing one’s income by continuous implementation of lessons learned in our Financial Fitness Classes.  CHOC understands this need as integral to our community development efforts (and the families who live there).

CHOC is confident that every community has the human capital to increase asset capacity, one household at a time.  CHOC invests in our residents, offering programs and services including:  Financial Fitness Classes, Homeownership, Small Business Development, Post-Secondary Educational Opportunities and Livable Wage Employment.  We value our communities and continuously work to grow new opportunities on this front.

CHOC’s Angie López will speak on Asset Building and other topics at this year’s Housing California Conference, April 16-18.


~A leader committed to:  Advocating for the investment of the most valuable asset…”communidad”~

Casa del Sol ~ A Thriving Community Classroom

3 Apr

CHOC is a Community Convener, Creating Community Consensus 

Casa residents gather to begin learning English

Casa residents gather to begin learning English

For a second semester, Casa del Sol Mobile Home Community  residents and Woodland community members receive an opportunity to learn English, free of charge.  In June of 2012, Woodland Adult Education approached CHOC with a proposal to provide an instructor and an aide to teach an English as Second Language (ESL) Class held at Casa del Sol.

On September 11, 2012 CHOC, Casa del Sol residents and Woodland Adult Education held the first day of instruction for 15-18 Spanish-speaking adults.  The class continues to meet three times a week every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-12 in the Community Room.  15-18 residents consistently participate, many of whom also participated in CHOC’s Leadership and Financial Capacity Building Workshop Series.  The class exudes engagement, excitement and optimism for a brighter more fulfilling life through the power of learning.

Course work is multi-level and designed to work at the individual pace of each student, encouraging practice and positive reinforcement.  Using real-life scenarios, students role play and incorporate personal computer skills through interactive on-line English Learning Tools.  Students are also encouraged to engage outside of class using the vocabulary they have learned, building confidence and supporting Casa del Sol’s hallmark sense of camaraderie.

CHOC facilitates user driven Children and Family Services, responding to urgent community needs, encouraging personal achievement

ESL Class encourages group-work as a learning tool

ESL Class at Casa del Sol encourages group-work as a learning tool

Casa del Sol Mobile Home Park is a CHOC multi-phase redevelopment project successfully completed in partnership with The City of Woodland, with the support of many other financial and strategic partners.  Casa Del Sol residents have a safe environment they proudly call home, which motivates CHOC to continually develop and support residents’ positive spirit and educational ambition.  


~A Leader Committed to; Advocating for the investment of the most valuable asset….”communidad” ~


CHOC Energy : Green Design, Jobs and Lifestyle

25 Mar

Founded in 2010, CHOC Energy is a result of a partnership between CHOC, PG&E and Richard Heath Associates.  Every year since its inception, CHOC Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP) has continued to grow in volume of households serviced (4,000 families served with 4,000 more families approved for service), efficiency, staff increases and geographic service area/reach.

  • Working in Tri-County area of Solano, Yolo and Sacramento (from Vallejo to City of Sacramento), CHOC Energy has provided an employment pathway that includes certified trainings provided by PG&E and a transferable skill set for those whom may move to another location in Northern California.
CHOC Energy's Leonard and Bob. CHOC Energy Offices, Vacaville, CA.

CHOC Energy’s Lenard and Bob. CHOC Energy Offices, Vacaville, CA.

We recently spoke with two CHOC residents who have joined the CHOC ESAP team.  Lenard Cady and Bob Hobson. Lenard and Bob who are co-workers, friends and neighbors, both of whom live at CHOC’s Tuscany Villas,  a 30-townhome community in Davis, CA.  As both gentlemen are Tuscany Villas residents,  Bob recruited Lenard for his position with CHOC Energy after Lenard had lost his Sacramento-based airline job.

Lenard, his wife and four boys have been Tuscany Villas residents for 10 years; he and his wife cite CHOC as pivotal to their safe and affordable housing and sustainable economic situation, respectively.  The benefits of good quality schools, safe surroundings and options to be active and involved in his community are a result of his engagement with CHOC’s commitment to affordable housing and services for low-income families.  

Lenard expressed confidence in the ESAP program and in CHOC Energy as his housing provider and employer, respectively, to continue to growing and investing in CHOC Energy services.  His sensitivity to ESAP customers comes from being recipient of  services. The opportunity to become a natural gas appliance technician and weatherization specialist (NGAT/WS),  his motivation to provide great customer service and share his new knowledge is influenced by these personal experiences. He especially enjoyed being able to help CHOC Energy clients save significantly on their utility bills.

“It’s a  win-win thing for me, it’s about giving a little bit back.”  – Lenard

Lenard adds that CHOC housing and his position with CHOC Energy allow him to set short, medium and long-term goals for himself and his family, echoing CHOC’s committment to helping one family at a time in order to encourage greater personal aspiration and achievement.   aml 


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