Clif Family Foundation Awards Sunflower Hill Grant

January 13, 2021

Organization will use grant for general operational support of its programs at the Sunflower Hill Garden and to support its produce donations

Sunflower Hill announced today that it has been awarded a grant from the Clif Family Foundation, which supports organizations working to strengthen the food system and communities, enhance public health, and safeguard the environment and its natural resources. The grant, totaling $2,000, will be used to purchase supplies and materials to support its Hands-On Garden Group program, produce donations, and overall operational maintenance of the Sunflower Hill Garden.

“The pandemic has spotlighted the need to improve food access and reduce food insecurity,” said Terry Sue Mock, Clif Family Foundation Communications Manager. “We recognize the work of dozens of garden and farming non-profits across the country, including here in the Bay Area, like Sunflower Hill stepping up to fill a community need to address access to produce and other food staples.”

The Sunflower Hill Garden is an instructional, outdoor space for educational, therapeutic, and life skills training for adults with developmental disabilities. In addition, the Sunflower Hill Garden, which is located at Hagemann Ranch in Livermore, CA, produces thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce each year. While produce is typically planted and harvested by Sunflower Hill program participants under the guidance of staff, COVID-19 restrictions forced the Garden to close for much of 2020 to program participants and volunteers. Deemed an essential business, Sunflower Hill’s staff continued to plant, grow, harvest, and donate over 4,500 pounds of produce to Tri-Valley non-profits supporting low-income households and those with health concerns. In October 2020, the organization was able to safely bring in-person programs back to the Garden. Following strict COVID protocols and CDC guidelines, the Hands-On Garden Group program is designed for adults with developmental disabilities and meets weekly in small cohort groups. The program focuses on person-centered instruction with program participants working alongside staff planting and harvesting produce for donation.

“We’re thankful to the Clif Family Foundation for this grant and for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for the mission and vision of Sunflower Hill,” said Edie Nehls, Sunflower Hill Executive Director. “Their generosity enables us to provide the materials and supplies needed to ensure our program participants have a successful work experience; one where people of all abilities engage, learn, and give back to the greater community through the donation of produce to our local non-profits partners that have such a great need during this time.”

Sunflower Hill Featured in KKIQ’s Philanthropy Thursday Podcast

January 7, 2021
Edie Nehls, Executive Director of Sunflower Hill spoke with KKIQ’s Mel McKay for her Philanthropy Thursday podcast series. The two spoke about the organization’s free Popcorn Chat program, virtual Cooking Classes, and Monthly Giving program.

Listen Here (the interview begins around the 3:40 mark)

Sunflower Hill Receives Grant From Robert Half

December 14, 2020

Organization will use grant to purchase supplies for programs at the Sunflower Hill Garden

Sunflower Hill announced today that it has been awarded a grant from Robert Half, a global staffing firm with offices in the Tri-Valley. The grant, totaling $3,500, will be used to enable the organization to meet the diverse needs of the individuals participating in its Hands-On Garden programs, as well as adults with developmental disabilities who generously volunteer their time to assist with maintenance tasks in the Sunflower Hill Garden.

With this grant, Sunflower Hill will purchase Hands-On Garden program supplies such as assisted kneelers, adaptive tools, harvest equipment and supplies, soil amendments, and other materials for its programs in 2021.

“We are proud to support Sunflower Hill and their focus on assisting people with diverse abilities,” said Roy Cook, Senior Human Resources Program Manager at Robert Half. “As an organization, we are committed to community outreach and philanthropy programs that positively impact the places where we live and work.”

As an instructional outdoor space, the Sunflower Hill Garden is a medium for educational, therapeutic, and life skills training for adults with developmental disabilities. The organization’s in-person, Hands-On Garden cohorts meet weekly at the Sunflower Hill Garden. Each cohort consists of three participants and their respective caregiver who follow Covid safety procedures and maintain social distancing, ensuring the safety of both staff and participants. The program offers person-centered instruction for adults with developmental disabilities, providing opportunities to learn, explore, and engage in new and supportive ways. Led by knowledgeable staff with a passion for both people and plants, curriculum addresses educational, therapeutic, and life-skill topics to grow important independent living skills.

In addition to this most recent grant, Robert Half previously awarded Sunflower Hill with a grant in 2019, and volunteered to help create a short educational video titled, Join the Team – Wear Your Face Mask, created for adults with developmental disabilities detailing why it’s important to wear a face mask and how to overcome objections to wearing one. As part of the Robert Half’s annual Week of Service, volunteers provided a professional script review as well as full production and post-production for the video.

“We’re very thankful to Robert Half for this grant and for their continued support of Sunflower Hill and adults with developmental disabilities,” said Edie Nehls, Sunflower Hill Executive Director. “Their ongoing generosity enables us to provide the tools and supplies needed to help our program participants engage, learn, and thrive.”

Sunflower Hill and Culinary Angels Expand Partnership

December 11, 2020

Culinary Angels Head Chef and volunteers will create meals for Culinary Angels recipients going through a serious health challenge and for Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch residents

Sunflower Hill and Culinary Angels jointly announced today that they have expanded their partnership to utilize the commercial kitchen at Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch to provide meals to Irby Ranch residents and Culinary Angels recipients. Prior to this announcement and for the past three years, Sunflower Hill has donated organic produce from the Sunflower Hill Garden to Culinary Angels for their meals.

Working in the new commercial kitchen at Irby Ranch, Culinary Angels Head Chef, Claudia Castillo Holley and volunteers will use organic produce donated from the Sunflower Hill Garden and Fertile Groundworks to create and prepare bi-monthly meals for its recipients. In addition, Chef Claudia will design and prepare nutritious and healthy meals for residents at Irby Ranch who choose to opt in to the meal plan offered five nights a week.

Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch is a 31-unit affordable apartment complex providing independent living apartment homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The community, which was developed in partnership with SAHA, was completed in September 2020, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch is the first independent, affordable residential community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Tri-Valley, California.

Since its inception in 2016, Culinary Angels has received incredibly generous support from the First Presbyterian Church in Livermore. In addition to providing an industrial kitchen for meal preparation, the church lent much needed administrative support that greatly contributed to the organization’s success and growth.

“Culinary Angels is ever grateful to the First Presbyterian Church for supporting our fledgling organization,” said Lisa McNaney, Founder and Executive Director of Culinary Angels. “We really could not have come this far without them! This move will allow Culinary Angels to serve more of those who are going through a serious health challenge throughout the Tri-Valley, while introducing our healthy and delicious menu to the residents at Irby Ranch.”

“We are excited to further our collaboration with Culinary Angels from donating produce to support their recipients, to partnering together so that they can utilize the new commercial kitchen at Irby Ranch,” said Edie Nehls, Sunflower Hill Executive Director. “We are thrilled that they, in collaboration with Chef Claudia, the Sunflower Hill Kitchen Manager, will be creating nutritious and delicious meals for residents who choose to opt in to the meal plan. We can’t wait to see what Chef Claudia cooks up!”

ABOUT CULINARY ANGELS
Lisa McNaney, herself a cancer survivor and also the mother of a young cancer survivor, founded Culinary Angels in 2016. The organization was awarded nonprofit 501(c)3 status in 2019. Both Fertile Groundworks and Sunflower Hill donate the majority of the produce used in Culinary Angels’ meals, which use only organic and locally cultivated vegetables and fruits. Maintaining good nutrition during chemotherapy and other cancer and medical treatments is critical to maintain strength, energy, and a healthy body weight. Between 2017 and the present, Culinary Angels prepared and delivered more than 5,000 meals free of charge to local residents, and the need is growing as more people are diagnosed and learn of their services. Some 45 volunteers assemble to prep, cook, and package meals, all of which are required to pass a state accredited course on food handling and safety. To learn more about Culinary Angels, please visit www.culinaryangels.org.

Sunflower Hill Receives Enhancing Vision 2026 Fund Allocation

November 16, 2020

Organization will use funds to provide in-person and virtual programming

Sunflower Hill announced today that it has been awarded an Enhancing Vision 2026 Fund allocation from Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. The funds, totaling $60,000, will be used for individual and small-group virtual programming for residents of Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch in Pleasanton and program participants living in the Tri-Valley. Additionally, the organization hopes to increase their offerings with in-person programming, in small cohort groups, at Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch as COVID-related restrictions lift.

Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch is a 31-unit affordable apartment complex providing independent living apartment homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The community, which was developed in partnership with SAHA, was completed in September 2020, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch is the first independent, affordable residential community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Tri-Valley, California.

“This generous Fund allocation ensures that we are able to continue to deliver virtual programming to our program participants and our new residents that is person-centered, engaging, life enriching, and meets the needs of our dynamic community,” said Edie Nehls, Executive Director at Sunflower Hill. We are extremely grateful to Supervisor Miley for allocating funds from his budget to support Sunflower Hill, and to the entire Alameda County Board of Supervisors for approving this allocation.”

“Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch is a model for providing quality community care,” said Supervisor Miley. “Their (Sunflower Hill’s) successful partnership with SAHA has created an enriching space for safe independence. I am very honored to be in a position to help ensure the continuation of their excellent programs, especially the essential virtual services during COVID. I personally understand the importance of Sunflower Hill and places like it because I have a nephew living with autism back East, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations on creating an exceptional community overall.”

Under the direction of its Residential Programs Manager, Pratimajit Kaur, and along with Resident Services Coordinator, Lizeth Duarte, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch residents will be offered person-centered, in-person (when COVID restrictions permit) and virtual programs that teach new skills, build independent living skills, foster communication and engagement with others in the greater community, and promote friendships. “I’m so excited to be able to engage with small groups of residents to strengthen their independence skills and help them connect with others here at Irby Ranch and in the Pleasanton community,” said Kaur.

Programs are designed to meet the needs of each resident and include small-group, virtual and in-person cooking lessons, independent living and life skills classes, such as accessing public transportation, grocery shopping, meal planning, and personal budgeting. Programs also include job readiness training, social interaction skills, vocational support, and more. Each program and activity are designed for adults with developmental disabilities and encourages participants to learn, explore, and engage with others in their community.

Additionally, these funds will enable Sunflower Hill Programs Manager, Rebecca Langstaff, to continue developing curriculum for the organization’s Garden Programs, free Online Activities, and its newest free virtual program called Popcorn Chats. This life skills program, which is guided by the interests of its participants, meets for an hour once a week.

Irby Ranch Featured at Pleasanton Chamber Virtual Mixer

September 14, 2020 Executive Director, Edie Nehls and Board Vice President, Janeen Rubino-Brumm showcased Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch during the Pleasanton Chamber Virtual Mixer in September 2020. The virtual tour begins at the 10:27 mark.

Sunflower Hill Releases Educational Face Mask Video for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

August 4, 2020

Collaboration with Robert Half results in video highlighting how to overcome objections to wearing a face mask

Sunflower Hill released a new, short educational video created for adults with developmental disabilities detailing why it’s important to wear a face mask and how to overcome objections to wearing one. The video, titled “Join the Team – Wear Your Face Mask,” was created in collaboration with Robert Half, a global staffing firm with offices in the Tri-Valley.

Now available on the Sunflower Hill YouTube Channel, the video offers adults with developmental disabilities, service and program providers, and the greater community a resource to help people feel more comfortable and confident wearing a face mask in public. The video addresses common objections to wearing a mask and can be utilized by schools, churches, child care centers, nonprofits, and anyone in the community.

The video was created as part of Sunflower Hill’s Online Activities programming. In response to Covid-19 restrictions, the organization shifted its programming online to continue providing learning, enrichment, and consistency for its program participants. “It was important for us to create a face mask video resource for both our program participants and our new residents at Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch. As a platform for discussion about mask wearing and how that impacts social interactions, we created the video to ensure our program participants continue to feel supported and confident both when going out in public, and when we are able to meet again in person,” said Edie Nehls, Sunflower Hill Executive Director.

“It’s important for us to know that we are not alone when learning a new skill,” said Emily Correia, Director of Enjoy Life More, an adult day program in Livermore serving adults with developmental disabilities. “This video is a useful tool to remind us that we can work through problems with a little help from our friends,” said Correia who plans to share the video with their program participants.

Robert Half employees volunteered to help create the video, including providing a professional script review, full video production, and post-production, as part of the company’s annual Week of Service. In addition, Robert Half also recently awarded Sunflower Hill with a grant enabling the nonprofit to further develop and professionalize its vocational program at the Stable Cafe. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the organization has transformed this program from an in-person cafe experience to a weekly virtual session where participants continue to develop life and social engagement skills.

A longtime supporter of Sunflower Hill, Robert Half employees have typically volunteered in the Sunflower Hill Garden during the company’s Week of Service. Unable to do so because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the company offered their professional video services as an alternative. “Our employees have always enjoyed volunteering at the Sunflower Hill Garden,” said Roy Cook, Senior Program Manager at Robert Half. “When this year’s program went virtual due to the pandemic, it was only natural to continue supporting the organization — but in a different format. By producing a video on the importance of wearing masks, and presenting it in an educational and approachable manner, we hope to help Sunflower Hill’s program participants and the community at large.”

“We were thrilled when Robert Half approached us about creating a resource to help adults with developmental disabilities overcome any concern or fear associated with wearing a mask and social distancing protocols,” said Nehls. “Wearing a face mask can cause sensory issues, be uncomfortable, and even a little scary for someone with developmental disabilities. With the experience and expertise of the generous Robert Half team of volunteers, we are excited to offer this free video resource to our community.”

KPIX Anchor, Juliette Goodrich Reports on Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run

June 21, 2020

Juliette Goodrich, KPIX Anchor, reports on her segment, Better Together the Alameda County Fair Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run, benefiting Sunflower Hill. Watch the report here.

Huff Construction Sponsors the Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run

June 11, 2020

Virtual 5K or 1-Mile event for all abilities runs June 19 through June 28 and benefits Sunflower Hill

Sunflower Hill announced today that Huff Construction Company, Inc. has signed on as the Run for the Sun sponsor for the Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run. As part of its sponsorship, the construction services company will support the event’s DIY downloadable Finisher’s Medal as well as the Finisher’s Medal Online Activity, during Sunflower Hill’s ongoing Online Activity programming. The Virtual Fun Run for all abilities, in partnership with the Alameda County Fair, will be held June 19, 2020 through June 28, 2020 and benefits the mission and vision of Sunflower Hill.

“Being a successful company goes well beyond our daily operations,” said Gary Huff, CEO of Huff Construction Company, Inc. “For Huff Construction, it’s also about giving back and supporting the communities in which we live and operate. Huff Construction is proud to sponsor the Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run benefiting Sunflower Hill. We believe in Sunflower Hill’s mission to create vibrant residential communities and programs where adults with developmental disabilities live, work, learn and thrive as part of the greater community. The Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run is going to be a wonderful event for all abilities and we encourage you all to register, participate, and have fun!”

“Despite these challenging times, we find it heartening that Huff Construction continues to generously support Sunflower Hill,” said Edie Nehls, Executive Director at Sunflower Hill. “As our General Contractor for Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch, our ongoing collaboration with Huff Construction is critical to our organization. We sincerely appreciate their expertise in building our first residential community for adults with developmental disabilities, and their ongoing support of our organization.”

Registration for the Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run can be found on the Alameda County Fair website. Once registered, participants can maximize their impact by registering as a fundraiser or team fundraiser for Sunflower Hill.

Sunflower Hill Featured on Helping your Hometown

May 29, 2020

Edie Nehls, Executive Director at Sunflower Hill was featured on both KKIQ and KKDV Radio, highlighting the Alameda County Fair’s Sun’s OUT Fun’s OUT Virtual Fun Run, benefiting Sunflower Hill.