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Elizabeth Kemp honored by La Luz

Fans of the late Elizabeth Kemp, shown here in 2009, had the kitchen at La Luz dedicated in her name.

KATHLEEN HILL,

Last Friday the Brown Baggers, Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) and La Luz placed a brass plaque naming the Booker Hall kitchen as the Elizabeth Kemp Kitchen.

Elizabeth Kemp, who passed away a year ago, saw it as her “mission” to feed the hungry and poor, after a decades-long career as a daycare provider. Kemp first joined the La Luz board of directors when the nonprofit merged with Vineyard Workers Services.

Born in England, Kemp moved to Sonoma with her husband, James, in 1967 and worked tirelessly for the less fortunate in the Sonoma Valley. She volunteered with many local charitable organizations including FISH, La Luz Center, Vineyard Worker’s Services, and Sonoma Overnight Support. Kemp helped organize temporary trailer camps for migrant workers, started the Brown Bagger program to provide lunches for people hungry on the streets, and worked to establish the first homeless shelter in Sonoma. She was honored for her work by being named the 2009 Alcaldessa of Sonoma.

Many who worked alongside Kemp at La Luz Center and other local organizations attended the dedication, including two of Kemp’s daughters, Suzanna Bon and Vicki Handron, and two of her 10 grandchildren, Ellie Bon and Max Handron. With partner organizations, the La Luz Center kitchen turned out 2,000 meals for 500 families displaced during the days of the North Bay fires.

La Luz hosts weekly Brown Bagger lunches and Friday night free dinners (4 to 6 p.m.), and La Luz volunteers and staff provide meal programs and workshops from the Booker Hall kitchen.

La Luz president Marcelo Defreitas and executive director Juan Hernandez highlighted Kemp’s contributions to La Luz Center before unveiling the entrance plaque and the picture of Kemp that now oversees the work of the kitchen. Suzanna Bon commented, “She was all about food and feeding people so I know she would be tickled to see the door plaque with her name on it.”