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Nov 12 - Dec 31, 2020

SPOTLIGHT: Sun Street Centers

Social Sobriety
Sun Street Centers pivots to online—and massive—outreach during the pandemic.
By Mary Duan

The student was reluctant, the nonprofit was dogged.
Angelique Canchola first came across Sun Street Centers as a high school junior, when the alcohol- and drug-addiction education and treatment orga-
nization brought its STEPS program to Soledad High. Previously, substance
abuse (and information about it), hadn’t been part of her worldview. But
STEPS—which stands for Safe Teens Empowerment Project—taught her
about substance-abuse issues facing her community.

She was interested and engaged, and then came the pandemic. STEPS
meetings went to the virtual realm and Canchola, now a senior, wasn’t as
interested in participating. But Sun Streets team was “adamant,” Canchola
says, about getting previously engaged students back to STEPS meetings.

“They don’t teach about substance abuse issues at school and I had no prior knowledge,” she says. “STEPS teaches us what substances can do to our brains and bodies, and they also provide life-skills training and an opportunity to do community projects.” To that end, Canchola did a segment

with Radio Bilingue to talk about prescription drug abuse. It’s also helped inform her future: Canchola plans to study public health in college.

“The work we do informing the community and preventing teens from going down the wrong path has inspired me to go down the path of
public health,” she says.

Keeping a nonprofit going during regular times is hard enough. Keeping it going during a pandemic is a miracle—especially a nonprofit in which the face-to-face contact of group meetings can be pivotal for people trying to
maintain their sobriety.

Sun Street Centers Executive Director Anna Foglia says the Salinas-based nonprofit has been “very, very, very busy,” since the pandemic struck.
“The need has increased, in terms of people losing their sobriety or new
people abusing alcohol and drugs because of the stress and mental
anguish of this experience,” Foglia says. “Being isolated, with no normal activity, people are bored and scared and dealing with the stress by drinking.”

With funds raised through Monterey County Gives!, Sun Street wants to take previously in-person activities and make them virtual and useful. Foglia lists a variety of avenues: youth summits and town halls; radio commercials and TikTok videos; new websites and other social media.

“We’re pouring our intentions into social media and creating a curriculum
and having students tell us what they want,” Foglia says. “We’re trying to do as much as we can for students, with countywide telemeetings for them to talk about prevention and to help them stay active and involved.”

We’re In This Together

Nonprofits are more important that ever in this trying time. Monterey County Gives! was created to support the local nonprofit community's Big Ideas (and programs). And thanks to your participation and generosity, Monterey County Gives! raised over $7.8 million for 162 local nonprofits in 2020.

MCGives! has now raised and contributed over $35 million dollars since its inception ten years ago. That’s astounding. And wonderful. Thank you to all our Partners, Sponsors, nonprofit Board Directors, staff and volunteers — and each of our 7,578 donors. We did it, together.

The 2021 Campaign begins November 11.

APPLY FOR Monterey County Gives!

The 2021 Monterey County Gives! RFP (for applying nonprofits) is due by midnight July 31st. Monterey County Gives! 2021 campaign kicks off in early November.