Puente celebrates a very big birthday with an even bigger party

How do you know an organization is well loved? Come to its birthday party and talk to the people who know it best.

September 22 was a special day in Puente’s history. It was Puente’s 15th anniversary celebration, held at Echo Valley Farm in Loma Mar. And fittingly, it was attended by Puente’s entire extended family, past and present.

Puente board members, past and present.

Puente board members, past and present.

Among the revelers who raised a glass of home-brewed iced tea that day were the people who gave birth to Puente and witnessed its first steps; those who coaxed it through its growth milestones and transitions; and the many staff members, donors, volunteers, and event sponsors who oversee its confident adulthood.

“It’s shocking to my system,” said Puente founder Rev. Wendy Taylor, surveying the crowd of celebrants sitting at linen-draped tables on a grassy lawn. It seemed like yesterday, she said, that she and the men who went on to form La Sala sat on the steps of the Pescadero Community Church, talking about their lives.

Founder, Wendy Taylor, and Executive Director, Kerry Lobel

Founder, Wendy Taylor, and Executive Director, Kerry Lobel

“To have this many employees, this many programs and this many precious services in the community – praise be to God,” she exclaimed.

The Rev. Taylor was an honored guest at the anniversary party, which featured a delicious gourmet meal prepared fresh, and served, by impeccably dressed student members of Puente’s Edible After-School program.

Puente's Edible After School Program students

Puente’s Edible After School Program students

Dragonflies flitted about as guests soaked in the sun at festive, red-draped tables. Some important “city folk” came out to the farm to show their support and enjoy in the warm vibes, including San Mateo County Supervisors Don Horsley and Carole Groom, and San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Anne Campbell.

Attendees ate, socialized and listened to some special remarks by people like Daisy Perez, 16, who got her first job in Puente’s office last summer. She took the money she earned and visited San Diego on her own.

Daisy Perez and Omar Ortega

Daisy Perez and Omar Ortega

Puente also helped her obtain a work/study permit under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Which in turn helped her make an important decision: to go to college.

“To get a title, a good job, and be known as something big – my summer with Puente was a big eye-opener,” she said.

Even Puente parties are venues for action. Puente Executive Director Kerry Lobel noted that one year ago, at Puente’s previous volunteer appreciation party, Supervisor Horsley stepped up to the microphone and announced that if voters passed Measure A, a half-cent sales tax, the county would provide a mobile medical clinic to the South Coast.

Well, Measure A did pass, and the funds were approved in September.

“If you look around, you can see why Puente has kept its promises for 15 years,” said Lobel. “Last year we talked about a medical van and now we’re getting one. At Puente you have to be careful what you wish for because it gets very, very big.”

Lobel honored Rev. Taylor by naming a new Puente legacy-giving program after her: the Rev. Wendy R. Taylor Legacy Circle. Rev. Taylor and her partner Ellen Sweetin returned the favor by being the first members.

Lobel also surprised Carol Young-Holt, a founding supporter of Puente, with a special plaque and the news that Puente’s children’s playground would be named after her.

Carol Young-Holt with Program Director, Rita Mancera, and Kerry Lobel

Carol Young-Holt with Program Director, Rita Mancera, and Kerry Lobel

“What do we have in store for the next 15 years? There’s a lot to finish on behalf of our beloved community,” said Lobel, to cheers.


To learn about Puente’s Legacy Circle and other donor opportunities, contact Kerry Lobel at (650) 879-1691 x 144 or klobel@mypuente.org

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