Place residence

A student living in an overcrowded Windsor house finds a new place

It’s a small studio in the countryside. But it’s a heavenly home for Cinthia Bravo and her boyfriend.

Bravo, 21, a Santa Rosa Junior College senior who was featured in a Press Democrat article in November, lived with 22 others in a house in Windsor owned by her aunt and uncle. Besides the residential part of the house, the garage and the garden had also been divided into several dormitories.

At that time, she found it difficult to take a shower or use the kitchen facilities when she needed to because everything had to be done in shifts. It was also difficult to study with all the noise that 22 people, mostly farm workers, kept coming and going all day.

Now Bravo, who was identified as “Cindy” in the November article, says, “I have peace.”

“It’s quiet. I have a kitchen and I can cook my meals whenever I want. It’s a safe, quiet place and I feel like I can study,” she said.

Bravo and her boyfriend, Manuel Reyes, Jr., were looking for affordable housing and found themselves empty.

How did she get so lucky? Maureen Merrill, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor, learned of her plight and wanted to help.

She caught up with Bravo’s mentor, Zeke Guzman, to learn more about Bravo’s living conditions and the story of his journey from his native Mexico when he was 16. That night, Merrill said she couldn’t sleep, thinking of Bravo and her sister, Araceli, living in such a crowded house.

She put out a request to Rotary Club members and other friends who might have additional space to rent, and that’s where Bill Bolster comes in.

Bolster, a member and former president of the club, had a studio in his large yard adjoining his renovated 1910 farmhouse which has been “relatively unused” in recent years, he said. His wife, Jean, is semi-disabled from Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

“Having someone else around is a plus,” said Bolster, who also has a Golden Retriever named Hunter. The house is located in an unincorporated rural area of ​​Santa Rosa, near Windsor.

Merrill and Bolster met with Bravo and Reyes, conducted background checks and earned “rave reviews,” Bolster said. By coincidence, it turned out that Reyes had received a scholarship from the Healdsburg Rotary Club, which allowed him to attend an automotive technician program to obtain a certificate and become an automotive mechanic.

The couple agreed to pay rent and help Bolster around their 8-acre property with its large lawn, and quickly moved everything out of the apartment, disinfected it and brought in donated and purchased furniture and s is appropriate. They moved in last Sunday.

“It was excellent,” said Bolster, owner of engineering company Electro Optical Components. “They helped me clean up the yard before I had a little party. They use our laundry room.

“They get it,” he said. “They both know what it takes to make it happen.”

Reyes, 26, is thrilled and grateful for their new home, saying, “We have everything we need, like utilities, and the space suits us too. It’s very peaceful and a nice place for us.

“We are focused on independence and preparing for buying our own home, starting a family and just enjoying life,” Reyes added.

Bravo, who graduated from SRJC with an associate’s degree in business administration in May, plans to continue his studies at Sonoma State University in the fall on scholarships. She continues to work part-time as an accountant for an auto repair business in Windsor.

Merrill visited the newly cleaned apartment on Wednesday.

“They made a nice little house out of it,” she said. “I’m extremely relieved,” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.

Unfortunately, there’s yet another Bravo family member stuck in the four-bedroom home, Cinthia Bravo’s sister, Araceli.

Bravo said his uncle told Araceli to move out because he could now charge more to rent the room. He gave her half of a mobile home where a man who smokes, drinks and uses drugs lives, Bravo said.

“What can I do? I don’t think she’s safe there,” she said.

As for herself, Bravo said, “Being out of the house is healthy for me.”

She said she wanted the same for her sister.

Merrill is now trying to help Bravo’s sister find accommodation.

You can reach editor Kathleen Coates at [email protected] pr 707-521-5209.