Interview with Luz Chavez, Regional Director of Northern California
We sat down with Luz Chavez, who our Regional Director of Northern California, to talk to her about the services she offers and how those services have made an impact on her local communities.
What are the services you offer in Northern California?
Luz: We currently offer Supported Living Services around the San Jose area and additional support through day programs and Independent Living Services (ILS). We also started expanding ILS services into Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.
It was founded in the desire to help based off of current needs. What service could we offer that could assist people, expand what we do, and be successful fiscally so that current clients will continue to receive support? ILS was one of the best I identified. When I moved to Monterey County, I attended the San Andreas Regional Center round table meetings and I was able to see a need here. It really called to my heart. I could see a need for services like ILS and I’m so happy at what we have accomplished so that individuals have access to support.
What is your proudest accomplishment during your time as a Director for Jay Nolan?
Luz: I walk into this job everyday and the mindset is: ‘I’m here to assist and help someone have a better life., But then I realized I was the one being helped, and I was the one learning the important things in life. We are the ones being taught to be humble and be a better person based on what we see in our experiences.
I also love seeing the great moments where someone we support accomplishes something; it makes me so proud. It brings me immense joy when a supported individual uses their voice. I am really proud of the team that I have been able to build and what we have been able to do. These are the moments and the people that keep me going.
I realized I was the one being helped, and I was the one learning the important things in life. We are the ones being taught to be humble and be a better person based on what we see in our experiences.”
What is the most difficult challenge you are facing at the moment?
Luz: There are a couple of challenges that we face in regards to services. One challenge is housing. With the cost of living increasing, it has been more difficult to focus on certain goals for those we support in terms of budget and what can be afforded. Everything must be taken into consideration, such as the basics like food and bills. Funds are limited and that leads to many other challenges.
I am very fortunate to have such a creative team that is always motivated to help. They’re able to locate food banks and get in touch with local churches who are amazing and always willing to assist in any way they can. Community is really important, and I love seeing the community come alive and come around those we support.
Another challenge that many do not see is the retention of Regional Center personnel. It can be difficult to connect with people and coordinators because of this. Personally, and for other team members, one of the biggest challenges of the job is when we lose people.
What do you see as the future of your department in 10 years?
Luz: I am a big dreamer! I see our department expanding tremendously. I believe there is always opportunity for improvement, so the desire is to continue doing the best that we can do. Additionally, I want to open other departments and I would love to reach out to children and be able to serve children. That is where my heart is. I see us working in Monterey with ILS, Supported Living, and serving children.
Luz Chavez has a BA in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Public Administration. She started with Jay Nolan in 2004 in Family Support and later transferred to the Supported Living Services Department where she worked as a Community Living Supervisor. Luz has a nephew in Family Services who has been supported from a young age into adulthood, so Luz felt very connected to Jay Nolan and the mission. After leaving the agency to work for the California Regional Center for two years, she returned to Jay Nolan in 2015 to the position she currently holds as Regional Director of Northern California.
Click Here to learn more about services offered in Northern California at Jay Nolan Community Services