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Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes

"Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community ... understanding goodwill for all men ... an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our Lunch Program creates community by welcoming all to share food and fellowship in an open and accepting environment.
What's Inside
Make a Gift
Upcoming Events

  • THANKSGIVING POULTRY DISTRIBUTION - Monday, Nov. 20th, 1:30-5:30pm
  • THANKSGIVING MEAL SERVICE - Thursday, Nov. 23rd, starts at noon 
  • Email Cecilia if you would like to help.
Wish List

  • Hygiene Kit Items: New Pairs of Socks, Razors, Soap, Toothbrushes, and Toothpaste
  • Needed Foods:
    • Canned Chili, Stews, and Soups 
    • Ready-to-eat and pop-top canned goods
    • Protein bars

Creating the Beloved Community

Executive Director Brooke Sampson reflects on her second term of service at PVLF.

It has been a pleasure to serve again as Executive Director of Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes these past 15 months. The scale of our programs has greatly increased since I first served as Executive Director from 2006-2008; for example, looking back ten years, pantry visits have increased by 94%. Yet, the core of our programs has remained constant - the welcoming, respectful service offered by our volunteers and staff. When guests and visitors come to the Solari House - our home on Second Street since 2000 - they are greeted warmly and invited to share food and fellowship with us. We are not just a service provider. We are a hub of community.

Martin Luther King Jr. extolled the creation of "beloved community" as the ultimate end of the civil rights movement - a civil society characterized by profound human connectedness, inclusivity, understanding goodwill for all, charity, justice, and "agape" love, a love for all that preserves and builds community and expects nothing in return. In the beloved community, King said, poverty, racism, hunger, and homelessness would cease to exist because, recognizing that we are all interconnected and our well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others, we would not tolerate the suffering of our brothers and sisters. King emphasized that this was not merely a utopian ideal, it was a vision for the type of society that could be built with a commitment to nonviolent social change, advancement of human rights, and the creation of equality of opportunity.

Fifty years later, we are still a long way from King's vision and very divided in our vision for our country. But, we have the power to effect change at the local level through personal and collective action. Non-profit organizations such as ours, that bring diverse community members together, are powerful sites for community building. In our own small way, as we serve and connect with local residents in need, we participate in the creation of a more just world, a more beloved community.

It has brought me great joy to be a part of this organization since 2006 - as a staff member, a supporter, and volunteer. The services we provide in my hometown community meet immediate human needs and create a more compassionate and just community. I am taking an extended maternity leave starting at the end of this month, but will be returning to PVLF in a new role as a Board member in 2018. I look forward to continuing to contribute to our mission and the creation of a beloved community right here at home. Thank you for joining us in this work.
Feed Our Community

Joann Godoy to Serve as PVLF Executive Director

Joann Godoy, PVLF Board member since 2013.

Joann Godoy, retired public health nutritionist and long-time Aptos resident, is transitioning from Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes Board member to part-time Executive Director at the end of this month, when Executive Director Brooke Sampson begins an extended maternity leave. Joann has served on the Board of Directors since September of 2013, including terms as Treasurer and President. She is also the bookkeeper for the organization.

Joann was inspired to get involved at PVLF by her dear friend Tom O'Brien, past President of the PVLF Board and dedicated volunteer. After Tom passed away in 2012, the food pantry was renamed in his honor and several of his close friends, including Joann, joined PVLF as volunteers to continue his legacy of service to the organization. Joann learned the finances of the organization, assisted with bookkeeping, joined the Board, and then served as interim Executive Director on a volunteer basis during a period of staff transition in 2014.

Since that time, Joann has volunteered more than 20 hours a week, focusing on accounting, operations, and special events. She has served as the chair of our annual Empty Bowls event for the past five years and took the lead as project manager of PVLF's My House renovation campaign in 2015-16. She has contributed to PVLF at a high level in each of her roles, bringing more than 35 years of program management and administration experience from her career with the Monterey County Health Department as the Director of Family and Community Nutrition Programs. She was recognized for her contributions to PVLF in 2014 when she was honored as our annual Bob Montague Volunteer Award recipient.

We thank Joann for taking on this role. She will be assisted in the management of day-to-day operations and office management by our new Operations Manager, Cecilia Cervantes. "I've failed retirement!" Joann jokes modestly, when asked about her service to the organization; her service at PVLF is indeed an extension of her career in public health, ensuring healthy food access for all. "I look forward to building on the momentum we have gained in the past year," Joann says. "My husband Marc and I are committed to the mission of Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes and service to the Watsonville community. We are simply continuing the work of our dear friend Tom."   

Local Artist Is Committed to Filling Empty Bowls

Local ceramicist George Dymesich (pictured above in the ceramics studio at Santa Cruz High School) is a long-time supporter of Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes and our annual Empty Bowls event. For the past 14 years, he and his ceramic students have crafted several dozen bowls for our fundraiser each year - this year, more than 80 - to provide each guest with a beautiful reminder of the hunger that exists in our community. 

In addition to encouraging their support of our organization through their art, George encourages his students to learn more about PVLF and get involved as volunteers as well. When speaking about the importance of food assistance programs like ours, George shares a story from his own life. With his permission, we share his story here.

There was a time in my life when I was down and out. I went to a church for a meal and had to listen about how I was going to hell for half an hour before I could have anything to eat. After that, I was determined that I'd always have enough to eat, no matter how many jobs I had to work, even if I was living in my van. Since then, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for those who are down and out. You don't know what it's like until you've walked in those shoes.

When my wife and I volunteered at Loaves & Fishes, helping Maria serve lunch, it was the most uplifting experience of the year for me. I witnessed the epitome of humanitarianism, which is not so common in the world these days.

Most of us are pretty lucky. I'm lucky because I found something that I love to do and have been able to make a living doing it all these years. I encourage my ceramics students to learn more about Loaves & Fishes and get involved as volunteers.

We thank George for sharing his story with the community. We are so grateful to him for his generous support of our work and for inspiring others to join us in our mission!

If you would like to see George's amazing pottery, visit him at his home studio this weekend, October 21-22, for the encore weekend of Arts Council Santa Cruz County's Open Studios Art Tour from 11am-5pm. He is artist #239 (see below and visit for tour details). You can also view his pottery on his website
Thanksgiving Day meal service at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, 2016.

Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

Are you considering spending your Thanksgiving holiday with us? Please sign up and help us make it a happier holiday for our pantry and lunch program participants.

Experienced PVLF volunteers are encouraged to sign-up for one or multiple shifts!

***Sign up soon, as volunteer spots will fill up fast!***

Thanksgiving Poultry Distribution, Monday, November 20th
Distribution of turkeys and chickens to 400 pantry client households at PVLF


Set-up, distribution, and clean-up
Partial shifts available

Thanksgiving Day Meal, Thursday, November 23rd
Traditional Thanksgiving meal service for up to 200 guests at PVLF


Dining area set-up and decorating

Lunch Service and dish washing

Dish washing & clean-up

CONTACT Cecilia Cervantes, Operations Manager
(831) 319-4571

Honorary and Memorial Gifts

 Honor a friend or loved one with a gift to Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes.
Your donation will provide nutritious food to local community members in need, and your honoree will be recognized in our e-newsletter and receive an acknowledgment by mail.
This is also a thoughtful holiday gift for the PVLF supporter in your life!
Donations can be mailed to us at 150 Second Street, Watsonville CA, 95076, or made through our website.

What's Happening @pvloavesandfishes

Follow us on Instagram @pvloavesandfishes to get updates on our PVLF community throughout the month!

Here are some highlights from the past month:

"Moreland Notre Dame 8th grade students Andrew, Gino, and Victoria are helping us serve lunch today. This is the 12th year of our service learning partnership."

Brothers Diego, Victor, and Angel are volunteering with us this week, during their school break at CEIBA College Prep. Victor has previously volunteered and introduced his younger brothers to PVLF this week. They have been a huge help, both in the Pantry and Kitchen programs!"

Venessa and Brett from Community Life Services volunteer in our pantry program every Tuesday. We thank them for their service! It is always a pleasure to have them here with us.😊 "

"Our Kitchen Manager Maria Gonzalez and volunteers prepared beef fajitas, Spanish rice, pinto beans, salsa, green salad, and melon for lunch today. Lots of smiles out on the serving line."

We were proud to be honored for our community impact by our partner Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County at their annual Partner Agency Conference today."

Volunteer Spotlight
Clinton Reese

Clinton stays after lunch service to volunteer at PVLF.
Our October Volunteer of the Month is long-time area resident resident Clinton Reese. A Vietnam-era veteran of the Coast Guard, Clinton was recently housed in a single-room occupancy hotel around the block from PVLF, through the Housing & Urban Development Department-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. HUD-VASH combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Now that he lives in the neighborhood, Clinton participates in our lunch program a couple days a week.

Clinton first became homeless while living and working in Silicon Valley, in the electronics field. Although he was employed, he was unable to find affordable housing in San Jose. He found a place to rent in Santa Cruz County and moved here. The Santa Cruz / Pajaro Valley area has been his home now for twenty-five years.

Clinton appreciates the programs we offer and is always willing to lend a hand after lunch service is over. "The food is always good, and there's a lot of it. This is how I can reciprocate, by volunteering. The pleasure is all mine," he says. Clinton helps us with a variety of tasks, including unloading and storing food deliveries, sorting through food donations, and cleaning the dining area and bathroom. Clinton also helped us with our recent Empty Bowls fundraiser, working the set-up and clean-up shifts.

We truly appreciate all the ways that Clinton pitches in at PVLF, but he is very modest about his contributions: "You guys feed me! How can I not help?" However, upon further reflection, Clinton adds, "I do this for the same reason I vote and I enlisted in the military - to give back to my country." He noted that while he is not affiliated with a particular denomination, he strives to be a good Christian. He takes inspiration from Paul's letter to the Romans emphasizing that it is what is in your heart and your deeds that matters. "I try to do good things," he says simply.

We are glad to have Clinton as part of our Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes community and gratefully thank him for his service, past and present.

Volunteer Opportunities

Turn your compassion into action.
Take a look at our opportunities and find where you can help!

Pantry Assistants
Mon-Fri  9:00am-11:30am


Kitchen Assistants
Mon-Fri 9:00am - 11:00am
1:00pm -  4:00pm


Lunch Service
Mon-Fri 11:30am -1:30pm

Operations & Facilities
Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm
Tues 1:00-2:30pm Receive and store weekly food delivery

Contact us for more info or to sign up to volunteer!
Copyright © 2017 Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, All rights reserved.

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