NOAH settles into new home on Snyder Lane
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By Jud Snyder  February 8, 2013 12:00 am

Neighbors Organized Against Hunger, better known by its acronym NOAH, has settled in its new RP headquarters adjacent to Cross & Crown Lutheran Church on Snyder Lane and to celebrate, held an Open House Saturday afternoon, Feb. 2.

Naturally, the place was packed and celebrants gathered on a side porch for a group photo. Current president is Rev. Gail Tafferata, who was pastor at Holy Family Episcopal Church before it recently closed its location at the south end of Snyder Lane where it ends at East Cotati Avenue. She’s now on a sabbatical from Boston University School of Theology, where she’s taking graduate studies.

NOAH began in 2005 and began with about 40 applicants, and now they have “hundreds” of applicants relying on bags of food every Wednesday afternoon. They’re supplied every week by the Redwood Empire Food Bank based in Santa Rosa. They have NOAH-like local distribution centers throughout Sonoma County and on up to Ukiah in their vital network.

NOAH began when Olga Senyk, RN, was walking her two dogs along Copeland Creek and noted the appearance of homeless people huddled in primitive encampments on her walks. Senyk, a long time member of RP’s Sister Cities Committee, got in touch with Rev. Chip Worthington, pastor of a Baptist Church on Snyder Lane and plans began to form.

They needed a catchy title, and Senyk, as a registered nurse in county hospitals (where acronyms are common as tongue depressors), came up with the word NOAH to describe their project. Worthington had to drop out because he began to organize the Stop The Casino 101 Coalition, a truly busy group.

Another original member is Dennis McCormick, now NOAH’s chaplain. A few months later, Carl Leivo, former RP City Manager, brought his talents to NOAH’s board and brought along RP’s Rotary Club membership as partners.

Even with a solid core at the helm, NOAH has had to move its operation from a small store to RP’s Community Center, then the former Dept. of Public Safety’s headquarters on Southwest Boulevard, torn down to build affordable housing (and still waiting) and RP-Cotati School District offices at the former Mountain Shadows Middle School, and now adjacent to Cross & Crown Lutheran Church.

Bags of free produce, cans, bottles and boxes are available every Wednesday afternoon and proof of local residence, such as a telephone or PG&E bill is the only requirement. Entrance to NOAH is on the west side and there’s free parking in the Cross & Crown parking lot.

Their function is run strictly by volunteers and one of them remembers: “A lady said she dearly wanted Amy’s Lentil Soup in her bag, so we called Redwood Empire Food Bank and sure enough, the following week there was her favorite lentil soup.”

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