September 3, 2021 | by Lisa Mattson
Since 2012, the John Jordan Foundation has been working to fight the negative effects of poverty through education and health programs. Most of our work is done in Sonoma County, but we plan to expand successful programs to other communities. A few times a year, Jordan Winery publishes a social impact spotlight blog to update our customers and employees on our foundation’s latest programs. This month, we want to share the story of TLC Child & Family Services, a nonprofit with a dream of creating its own culinary program.
Growing a Culinary Program at TLC Child & Family Services
For over 40 years, TLC Child & Family Services has been providing comprehensive services to children, young adults and families ranging from 0 to 26 years of age. TLC’s main campus is in Sebastopol, Calif., where TLC bridges the gap for youth searching for their place in this world. TLC offers programs in foster care, adoption, transitional housing, specialty mental health services and is home to Journey Academy, which encompasses both TLC’s high school and, for many youth, residential treatment. On average, TLC is serving 200 youth a day.
A few years ago, the John Jordan Foundation funded a pilot program to provide iPads to the classrooms at Journey Academy. Once Lisa Wittke Schaffner began working with TLC, she realized how much potential there was for JJF and TLC to develop a deeper relationship.
This year, Jordan is helping make culinary education central to TLC’s services. The Journey Academy has its own kitchen, but Susan Fette, chief executive officer of TLC, had a vision to transform it into a hands-on, farm-to-table education center replete with a learning kitchen, a chef instructor, mobile cooking stations for students, an organic garden, a pavilion for outdoor dining and more. The John Jordan Foundation has pledged $150,000 and hands-on support from winery staff to help make TLC’s farm-to-table project as a reality. They’ve hired a project manager and are interviewing architects this spring. Their seven-acre campus is already home to an apple orchard, managed by the wonderful Dutton grapegrowing family, so adding a thriving garden for the students to grow their own food is a natural progression—and will be a transformative experience for these kids. There are other parcels of open space that could be ideal for an apiary and a pollinator sanctuary or two, so Todd Knoll, our executive chef, has already been making some recommendations based on our beekeeping program and pollinator sanctuaries at Jordan. TLC students recently conducted their first field trip to Jordan, where they spent time with Todd and Nitsa Knoll in the winery garden, learning about our farm and what we grow and why.
“TLC values our ongoing We are excited to continue our strong relationship with the John Jordan Foundation and are so appreciative for admire their shared commitment to helping our youth grow by providing diverse hands-on learning experiences right here on our main campus,” Fette says. “Each time I look out my office window at the farm-to-table site I think of the many ways our youth’s lives will be enriched by this project. We can’t wait to bring it to life.”
Jordan is the largest investor in the program and will continue to a primary partner. As the project evolves, TLC plans to create a wish list of other needs, such as appliances, tables and chairs, and host mini fundraisers to bolster donations and get the community involved.
A large portion of the revenue from Jordan wine sales funds the John Jordan Foundation’s work, led by Lisa Wittke Schaffner, executive director.