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Photos tell the history of Napa Valley's UpValley Family Centers

Photos tell the history of Napa Valley's UpValley Family Centers


Twenty years is a long time … and maybe in the 21st year of the UpValley Family Centers it’s time to reflect. Historic photos from Jenny Ocón, UVFC’s executive director, are helping us to do just that.

Two of the photos show Anne Carver, one of the founders of the Calistoga Family Center; the other shows Rosa Cachu, who first was a volunteer at the CFC when it began in 1999. Later, she came on staff after the first director was hired. Currently Cachu serves as an outreach specialist and coordinates the Niños Activos/Active Kids program for young children and their parents in both Calistoga and St. Helena.

A recent interview with Ocón, Kristen Georges and Karen Cakebread, who are part of the dozen people who serve on the nonprofit’s board of directors, revealed the following:

- The Calistoga Family Center started with a grant to provide health and wellness services at the Calistoga Elementary School; in the years following, the agency held its first back-to-school celebration and its first health fair;

- The CFC was incorporated in 2002;

- The CFC collaborated with a group of St. Helenans to establish the St. Helena Family Center in 2005;

- Realizing that both family centers provided essentially the same services, the board of directors worked to make the two separate nonprofits one group, called the UpValley Family Centers. That was in 2014, when Ocón was hired as executive director;

- In 2014, the fledgling UVFC budget was $1.2 million with 13 people on staff -- six years later, the UVFC budget is $2.8 million with 24 staff members;

- In 2015, UVFC personnel staffed a help desk at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga, following the evacuation of southern Lake County because of the 2015 Valley Fire;

- The UVFC doesn’t run without local community volunteers – in May 2019, a celebration was held for all its volunteers: 160 in both sites;

- For 18 years, the UpValley Family Centers has offered free bilingual tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program;

- In 2019, the VITA volunteers provided tax preparation assistance for 705 households, which meant $867,336 in refunds and $260,312 in Earned Income Tax Credit benefits;

- Bidding for the annual VIVA! Napa Valley 2020 online auction begins at 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21 and ends at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24; last year the auction raised $150,000. Details are available at the UVFC’s website,, and click on VIVA! Napa Valley 2020.

You may reach David Stoneberg at 967-6800 or

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star and The Weekly Calistogan.

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