[caption id="attachment_17456" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Wes Winter"][/caption]

MENDOCINO -- North Coast Opportunities Inc., a community services group serving seven counties, just brought on a new executive director.

Wes Winter took over for Morgaine Colston who retired at the end of 2009.

Mr. Winter has 35 years of marketing experience, 30 of which have been in non-profits. For the last four years he worked with Oakmont Senior Living, doing marketing for the Fountaingrove Lodge senior housing project in Santa Rosa.

“This job sort of brings all my experiences together,” said the 54-year-old Mr. Winter. “When I was looking at the job description, it looked like my resume.”

North Coast Opportunities has been serving the community for 40 years. It covers Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, Del Norte, Humboldt, Napa and Solano counties. It has an $18 million annual budget.

The governing board consists of representatives of the low income population, representatives of the general community and locally elected government officials and their representatives.

Mr. Winter oversees a staff of 250 people who serve 5,500 children, families, caregivers and individuals annually.

Funding historically comes from government, federal as well as state and county funds, and through private foundation and corporate grants.

“I am working on a fund development campaign,” said Mr. Winter. “We are trying to get our face out there more,” he said.

The main office of North Coast Opportunities is in Ukiah and there are sites scattered across the seven counties in order to reach the communities it serves.

The group’s mission is to fight poverty, promote self sufficiency, feed the hungry, improve social services and engage the private sector.

It is through the programs available that the group has been working toward these goals the last 40 years.

Head Start Child Development Program is the biggest program funded by the organization with an annual budget of roughly $6 million.

Corrine Lindgren is the director of the program that serves 320 students annually.

The Mission of the Head Start program is to empower children to reach their potential.

In addition to Head Start, North Coast Opportunities funds the Rural Communities Child Care which provides services to 800 children.

There are a number of other programs including an Early Head Start program, a community gardens project, a local food collaborative and foster grandparents program.

Past programs include a job net, access to dental services, support for community projects and a teen community center.

There is a very low turnover rate among staff; some have worked for up to 40 years.

For information about North Coast Opportunities, visit www.ncoinc.org.