How it All Began

Vintage House was founded in 1977 by a small group of committed Sonoma citizens led by Jerry Casson, recently retired assistant director of Sonoma County’s Social Services Department.  Jerry, along with other community leaders, saw a growing need for a local organization providing programs and services for seniors, a need not addressed by either the city or county of Sonoma.

Jerry, who volunteered as our first Executive Director, is considered the founder of Vintage House. Early Vintage House programs were offered in shared space at the First Congregational Church.  

Vintage House was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in 1983.  A community supported building fund was established, growing to nearly $50,000 by 1985.  Additional funding of $127,000 from the California Senior Center Board Act and a Sonoma County Community Development Block Grant of $61,000 came next.

With momentum building, Bob Lynch recruited his friend and philanthropist Bob Stone to chair a major three-year $1 million capital campaign. This became the largest and most successful capital campaign of its era – with over 1,100 individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies contributing over $1 million in money and in-kind services to bring Jerry’s vision to life.

Fast forward to 1988, the City of Sonoma provided Vintage House with the land along with a 55-year $1/year lease arrangement, and ground breaking of our current Center took place on May 21, 1988. Our doors opened in February 1989. For many years Vintage House was an all-volunteer-operated organization.

Today, our current Executive Director, Priscilla Call Essert manages a small paid staff, but we remain a largely volunteer-dependent organization, with more than 300 volunteers providing over 12,000 hours in support for our programs and administration on a yearly basis.

Conservatively valued at $319,000* this in-kind labor augments our budget, greatly increasing our ability to offer exceptional quality programs in an extremely cost effective manner.

*As estimated by Independent Sector’s analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, using the most recent figures available for California (2014).