– and the Crisis Center will be one of the beneficiaries!

Lafayette Juniors will host their 19th Annual Kitchen Tour on Saturday, May 19th, from 10am to 3pm. This year’s Tour benefits our organization as well as four other local non-profits dedicated to helping women, families, and individuals in need. It’s a special chance to see six beautiful Lafayette homes for a great cause, with masterfully designed modern, elegant, and awe-inspiring kitchens.  Tour tickets are $50 ($45 tax deductible). You can purchase tickets online at www.lafayettejuniors.org.

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release

Date: January 8, 2018

Contra Costa Crisis Center welcomes Tom Tamura as new Executive Director

The Contra Costa Crisis Center (Crisis Center) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping people alive and safe, helping them through crises, and connecting them with culturally relevant resources. After a 4-month intensive search, the Crisis Center is pleased to announce the selection of Tom Tamura as its new executive director. Tamura follows the Crisis Center’s previous long-term Executive Director, Rhonda James, who left the organization in July for a new professional challenge as Chief Executive Officer of STAND! For Families Free of Violence. The Crisis Center selected Tamura after an extensive regional search led by a team of current and former Board Members. The Crisis Center’s Interim Director, Mary Vradelis, coordinate the search.

Under Ms. James’ dedicated leadership, the organization built on its strengths, developed new relationships and strengthened existing relationships with partners and supporters.  The Crisis Center anticipates that Tamura will leverage these achievements to help the organization expand its services to even more Contra Costa residents in crisis.

“We are very excited to have Tom taking on the role of the executive director of the Crisis Center,” says Andrew Pojman, the Board President.  “Tom brings to the job an exceptional combination of energy, sensitivity, and proven leadership to the challenges of working with people in crisis. Both the Board and Staff are impressed with his extensive knowledge of Contra Costa County, his 30-years of work within the mental health area, and his strong management skills.  We expect Tom to not only continue the Crisis Center’s excellent programs, but to work with partners and funders to help expand the Crisis Center’s programs to more people in need.”

Tom Tamura joins the Crisis Center after 30-years of work as a therapist and administrator, providing services to the most vulnerable and at risk clients and their families. He is particularly proud of his work with multidisciplinary teams that provided support and safety options for families in their most difficult times, by building strong partnerships with both public and private organizations.  Most recently, Mr. Tamura was the Regional Executive Director of the Seneca Family of Agencies, serving from 2014 to 2017.  This position grew out of his 17 years of experience and growth within the organization.  The Board and Staff are impressed with his extensive knowledge of Contra Costa, his 30-years of work with children, youth, and families in crisis, and his strong management skills.

“As a proud and long-time resident of Contra Costa County, I have been privileged to witness the impact of good people giving back to the community. Together, we are stronger, and it is in this spirit that I begin my work at the Crisis Center.  I am excited to work with the exceptional management team and staff to help the organization meet the challenges of the next decade,” says Tamura.  “The Contra Costa Crisis Center is a ‘best-kept secret.’  I’m looking forward to bringing the work of this essential organization to more people in our community.”

The mission of the Contra Costa Crisis Center is to keep people alive and safe, help them through crises, and connect them with culturally relevant resources in the community. The organization opened in 1963 in order to provide a safety net for depressed and suicidal people beyond usual business hours. In addition to crisis intervention, we provide grief support and our 2-1-1 line which helps people make timely connections to safety-net resources. The Crisis Center prides itself on delivering continuous services to so many each year because of our hybrid model of professional staff and highly trained volunteers working side by side each day. Without this combination, a prompt and responsive 24/7 presence would be nearly impossible to maintain.  Just in the first nine months of 2017, we’ve received 23,738 calls from people seeking basic assistance or shelter. Our crisis lines have received 20,626 crisis intervention calls.   To support the larger safety net provided by a diverse group of nonprofits throughout the county, we recently added two new programs — Share the Spirit and Corporate Caring Volunteer Week.   We are able to provide all these services with the help of a dedicated board, volunteers, staff, partners and donors.  Together we create a safety net for anyone in need, whatever their income, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or citizenship status.

Tom Tamura started his role of Executive Director on January 3rd, 2018.


We imagine that many of you, like us, are deeply troubled by the acts of racism, bigotry and violence that have been committed here and abroad. We strongly condemn these beliefs as antithetical to our core values of compassion and hope.

We will continue to support those who are most vulnerable among us, whether it is based on appearance, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs, or those who have lost hope. We believe that together we can create a brighter future for all.

If you are fearful or know someone who is, and need support, or you have been the victim of threats or harassment, please remember that you are not alone. We encourage you to call Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline at 800-833-2900 or text “HOPE” to 20121. Our trained counselors are here for you. With help comes hope.


The Leadership Team of Contra Costa Crisis Center

With help comes hope

For Immediate Release
August 11, 2017

The Contra Costa Crisis Center is excited to announce that phase two of our new texting program has launched. Just in time for back-to-school, our nationally certified crisis and suicide prevention support services are now available via text message. Similar to the 211 Text launch last month, the Crisis Center acknowledges that for some, talking to a crisis counselor on the phone may be difficult, intimidating, or not private enough for their current circumstances. Offering text as an option for those who are seeking help ensures that support is always right at their fingertips.

Crisis Text is easy, confidential, and available to anyone in our community who is feeling distressed or in crisis. Crisis counselors are available 24/7 via phone (800-833-2900) and now from 3pm-11pm Monday-Friday via text. To get help, simply text “HOPE” to 20121 and a real, local, and expertly trained counselor will help you through this time of difficulty.

Texting will not sign you up for unsolicited communication. Mobile Carrier Privacy and Terms and Conditions

For Crisis or 211 Text inquiries, contact Lesley Garcia, M.S., Crisis/211 Call Center Manager, at (925) 939-1916 x140 or lesleyg@crisis-center.org


Board President, Andrew Pojman, presents Laurie Kozisek with the 2017 Rosemary Caldwell Volunteer of the Year Award

Rosemary Caldwell was the Crisis Center’s crisis line director from 1974 to 1986 and trained and mentored numerous volunteers and staff during her tenure.  This award, established in her memory, is the only award we bestow.

The Crisis Center is excited to announce the 2017 Rosemary Caldwell Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Laurie Kozisek during our annual volunteer appreciation lunch in July.

Laurie has been volunteering weekly with the Crisis Center since 2006.  During her shift Laurie answers crisis and 211 calls- helping community members navigate difficult times, providing hope and support, and connecting them to resources.  Laurie’s service has demonstrated her dedication to the Contra Costa Crisis Center’s mission and core values of compassion, integrity, inclusion, accessibility, and collaboration.  In addition to her work at the Crisis Center she also volunteers for the Red Cross in Alameda County.

To date, Laurie has spent more than 2,000 hours answering the crisis and 211 lines-  providing help and hope to those in need.  Volunteers like Laurie share more than their time, they share their kindness, compassion, and skills to ensure that callers in crisis have a place to turn for help.  Laurie is a role model to all of us here at the Crisis Center, and it is our privilege to acknowledge her work with the Rosemary Caldwell Award.

July 2017
For Immediate Release

The Contra Costa Crisis Center is excited to announce that the first part of our new texting program has launched.  211 Information and Referral services can now be accessed via text message Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm in English and Spanish.  To access help and services, text your zip code to 898-211 (TXT-211) for resources and services in your area.

As the California PUC designated 211 provider, we answer nearly 35,000 calls last year from Contra Costa residents looking for help with food, shelter or homelessness related services, mental health, substance abuse treatment, financial assistance, and many other health and social services.

But for some, talking on the phone may be difficult, intimidating, or may not be private enough for their circumstances. By expanding to include texting services, the Crisis Center is increasing the access and availability of services to those who would prefer to communicate through a non-verbal medium. 211 text offers the same high-quality, responsive, and confidential service provided by expertly trained Call Specialists in a convenient text format.

Unsure where to start or how we can help?  Simply text your zip code to 898-211 and the Call Specialists will guide you through a series of questions to help you find the resource most helpful in that moment.  Texting will not sign you up for unsolicited communication.


Mobile Carrier Privacy and Terms & Conditions

For 211 text inquires, contact Lesley Garcia, MS, Crisis/211 Call Center Manager, at (925) 939-1916 x140 or lesleyg@crisis-center.org.


’13 Reasons Why’ you should be talking to your teen

On March 31st, Netflix released season 1 of “13 Reasons Why” and has recently announced season 2 is in the works.  The show, based on a book of the same title by Jay Asher, follows a series of teenagers confronted with the fallout of one of their schoolmate’s suicide. The series covers a range of topics including substance use, in-person and cyber bullying, mental health, sexual assault, driving while intoxicated, and ultimately, suicide. Many adults and school administrators may feel overwhelmed or at a loss with how to start a conversation with a young person about the show and its complex content.

Talking about suicide, does not cause suicide.

One of the biggest fears we hear from adults is that talking with youth about suicide and suicide prevention will “give someone the idea” to complete a suicide.  Research has shown time and time again, that talking about suicide does not “introduce” the idea to young people.  In fact, starting a conversation about suicide and other complex social topics raised in ’13 Reasons Why’ can actually bring relief to those who are wrestling with thoughts of suicide and bring the conversation and possible ways to address the underlying issues into the open.

While we believe that talking openly about the complex issue of suicide and suicide prevention, we must caution that the show is not intended for all audiences.  As indicated by its TV-MA rating, the content is intended for mature audiences.  We do encourage parents and caregivers to watch with their teens, and avoid binge watching to allow time for processing the heavy content.  Those who are vulnerable, or may be triggered by the content should practice good self-care and avoid watching altogether.

May is also Mental Health Month– another great reason to start a conversation and break down the stigma and shame that can prevent some individuals from getting help.  To learn more about how to start a conversation with a young person check out the links below.

To learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, click here.


In the later part of 2016, the Contra Costa Crisis Center adopted smart building technology, enabling a more responsive and efficient energy usage in our 24/7 facility.  Below is a photo of our recent rebate check from the City of Walnut Creek – which has now taken our energy cost savings over $3,600 in our first eight months! Not only are we feeling great about our use of energy resources but we are thrilled about how this cost saving strategy stretches our donor dollars!


Thank you to PG&E and to the City of Walnut Creek for your support of this very green project!

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.

Rosh Hashangettyimages-178675880_compah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha, Sukkot, Diwali/Deepavali, Halloween, All Saint’s Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza, New Years- the months of September-January are filled with a number of annual holidays that can be a very difficult to navigate for those who have lost a loved one.

Holidays can be a time for celebration, special meals, decorations, periods of reflection and time to connect with family, friends and community.  Holidays can be a magical, chaotic and arguably a stressful time under the best of circumstances.  When someone you love has died, the holidays can feel overwhelming, painful, lonely, or sad. The holidays, particularly the first holiday after a death, can feel like an unwelcome reminder that time continues to move forward.

Suggestions to help cope with grief

Plan ahead: anxiety about specific holidays or celebrations can be more intense than the actual event.  Planning ahead can help restore feelings of control and empowerment and help your family, especially for grieving children.

Set realistic expectations:Decide what you and/or your family are willing to tolerate this year.  Talk about the different holidays and events and what each person is interested or able to handle.  Once you have decided what you will or will not participate in, let your friends, family, or community know so they can support your decision.

It is okay to say no: Grief can change from one day to the next.  It is okay to say no or cancel attending an event if you are having a hard day. Resist the urge to let others, even well-meaning supportive people, tell you how you “should” or “should not” participate in the holidays.

Find support: Holiday support can come in many forms.  Sharing memories and feelings with friends or family can be a healing and comforting experience.  For others, looking for support outside your community or networks may feel more comfortable.  Support groups, counseling, and meet-ups are all great ways to find support during the holidays.

Ask questions: if you are concerned about who will be in attendance at certain events, expectations others may place on you, or want to avoid toxic or unhealthy people or situations- ask about the event beforehand.   If you are concerned about a toxic or unhealthy situation, ask a friend or family member to leave with you or support your decision to leave.

Celebrate in a way that feels good: There may be ways in which celebrating the holidays feels helpful or healing.  This may include celebrating in the same ways as years past, in a different way, or not at all.  Allow space for different family members to participate, or not participate, in ways that feel important to their particular grief journey.

Prioritize your self-care: Make sure you are getting sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking water, and participating in physical activity.  Making time to care of yourself is important when you are grieving and even more so when you are balancing physically or emotionally challenging events at the holidays.

Find ways to honor your loved: Some individuals and families explore or adopt new ways to honor the person who died during the holiday season.  Here are few examples:

  • Make a donation to a charity in your loved one’s name
  • Write a letter or card to your loved one
  • Create a memory box and invite friends and family to share memories of your loved one
  • Create a space for your loved one a holiday table
  • Share your loved one’s favorite holiday meal or treat
  • Light a candle in your loved one’s honor
  • Set a time to play your loved one’s favorite music, movies, or television show
  • Volunteer at an event that your loved one felt strongly about

The most important thing to remember is that there is no handbook, no right way, and no wrong way to celebrate the holidays when you are grieving.  Take time for yourself and participate in ways that feel good and helpful to you.



Association for Death Education and Counseling. (n.d.). Grief Process: What to Expect and Self-Care. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.adec.org/adec/ADEC_Main/Find-Help/CopingWithLossNew/Grief-Process.aspx

The Dougy Center. (n.d.). Getting through the Holidays.  Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/getting-through-the-holidays/.

Vitas Health Care. (n.d.). Coping with Grief During the Holidays. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.vitas.com/resources/grief-and-bereavement/coping-with-grief-during-the-holidays


Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009.  The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down.   (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009. The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down. (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

The Share the Spirit evaluation committee, a partnership of Bay Area News Group – East Bay Times and the Contra Costa Crisis Center, is pleased to announce the following organizations have been awarded grants for Share the Spirit 2016:


Acts of Grace/Grace Baptist Church

Alternative Family Services

American Indian Education Program

Ariel Outreach Mission

AXIS Dance Company

Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Services (BORP)

Bay Area Rescue Mission

Berkeley Food and Housing Project

Berkeley Food Pantry

Beyond Emancipation

Child Abuse Prevention Council of Contra Costa

Child Care Links

Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

Downs Memorial United Methodist Church

Episcopal Senior Communities

FACES (Family, Art, Community, Education, Spirituality)

Family Emergency Shelter Coalition (FESCO)

Hayward Police Department

Hope 4 the Heart

Las Trampas School, Inc.

League of Volunteers

LITA   of Contra Costa; Port Costa

Loaves and Fishes

Love Center Community Development Corp.

Meals on Wheels Senior Outreach Services

Men and Women of Purpose

Oakland Catholic Worker

Opportunity Junction

Saint Vincent’s Day Home

Salvation Army Antioch

Service Opportunity for Seniors/Meals on Wheels San Leandro

SHELTER, Inc. of Contra Costa County

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County

Swords to Plowshares

Tri Valley Haven

Trinity Center

Vestia, Inc.

Volunteer Hayward

Warm Winters

West Contra Costa Youth Services Bureau


This was a competitive grant cycle and we say thank you to all the 2016 Share the Spirit applicants for their great work in the community.