The Sonoma County that we love!

Archive for the ‘Cause’ Category

Girls Day 2012 with the Boys and Girls Club

Girls Day 2012 Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma County

When I heard the Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma County was hosting Girls Day at the Santa Rosa Junior College, I was “in”. The morning of the event, I was so excited. I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew I was in for a good time.

It was a beautiful morning jam packed with young girls and female mentors from all over Sonoma County. We got paired up and were given an objective: participate in activities; learn about the others by asking questions regarding school, career, and healthy habits; and have fun! Hula hooping, sack races, zumba dancing, bean bag games, art activities, dress up photos, and face painting. Whew! It was full of fun. See my Flickr photo album of the day.

As an adult, I don’t get to play very often but I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do so. The chance to have fun, get exercise, hang out with active young ladies, and enjoy the company of women that took time out of a lovely Saturday to affect the lives of young girls made the day a favorite memory of mine and I’d love to do it again! Thank you for such a great day, BGCCSC!

Text from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma Countywebsite about the event: “This one-day event is aimed at empowering young women through mentorship and fun with women in Sonoma County.100 Women will spend the morning with 100 Club girls. On September 29, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM at the Santa Rosa Junior College, women & girls will join together for lighthearted games, activities, food, & fun! Event activities are structured around Boys & Girls Clubs 5 core areas: Sports & Recreation, Character & Leadership, Education & Career, Health & Life Skills, and The Arts.Girls Day aims to expose these young women to a variety of female leaders who will inspire them to grow up to becaring, productive, responsible women. In addition, funds generated through Girls Day help us offer character education programs to young women all year long. Programs like Smart Girls, DateSmart, Career Explorers and many others help our Club girls learn to be their best selves and make a smart plans for their futures.”

Best Game

SAY Beat the Cold BBQ

The huge pile of socks

I attended Social Advocates for Youth Annual Beat the Cold BBQ on 12/9/11 to end teen homelessness. The admission was a pack of socks. It was cold outside. I mean really cold. SAY runs the only teen homeless shelter in Sonoma County, the Dr. James E. Coffee House. Matt Martin, Executive Director, had many facts to share when he spoke to the standing room only crowd. Among them that there are over 700 homeless teens on the streets of Sonoma County. But the fact that grabbed me by the lapel is that when asked, 100% said they were hungry.

So the next time you see a kid on the street, don’t assume they are up to no good. They may be safer on the streets than in their own home. That’s an absolutely horrible fact, but it’s true. Reach out to them. Show them you care. Help them on their way. Your interest and attention may be all that’s keeping them with us. You were once a troubled youth, right? Weren’t we all?

Want to know what you can do? Donate your time or your money. Visit SAY’s site to learn more.

A Thankful Meal at the SAY Tamayo House

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve noticed I talk about Leadership Santa Rosa a lot. I love being involved (as you can probably tell) and even though this entry mentions LSR, it’s about much more. See the Flickr Photo Album.

Jill, Cat, J, Julie & Sean - coordinators

J Mullineaux, Julie Montgomery, Jill Sanford and myself got together to brainstorm ways to stay connected with the rest of our classmates. J had a great idea to have a dinner party for Social Advocates for Youth’s (SAY). I can’t express clearly enough how amazing they are! SAY is a youth advocacy organization that provides: shelter for homeless teens, a foster transition home, meals for the hungry, counseling, crisis intervention, youth employment, helping encourage graduation, mentoring, low cost tattoo removal for ex-gang members, and a sense of support and belonging.

We chose to make a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the Mary and Jose Tamayo House. Tamayo House is transitional housing for teens that have aged out of the foster care system yet still need guidance in the form of shelter, safety, job training, life training, and provides them with a sense of family. With 50 kids aging out of foster care every year, the 25 beds at Tamayo house are desperately needed. Otherwise these kids hit the street. In the recession, they’ve seen that the kids are staying longer (they are eligible 18-24).

I can’t imagine not having a family. I don’t know what it’s like to have no one to turn to when you want to learn how to cook, open a checking account, get a job, find a place to live, apply for college, or need a place to stay. These kids pretty much have nothing the minute they turn 18 and are out of foster care. I do know what it’s like to need crisis intervention and have a safe place to go. I was 16 when my family and I called SAY for help. The Dr. James E. Coffee Emergency Teen Shelter had a different name and location when I stayed there but the focus is the same.

We knew that these kids may not get a Thanksgiving meal so we brought it to them. 14 out of our 28 classmates divided up the menu and got to cooking all the traditional fixings. The tables were set for a harvest celebration and the sparkling cider flowed. Several turkeys, mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, green salad, green beans, bread, pumpkin pie, apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake (I have an awesome recipe, just ask me in the comments). These kids lined up with their plates and demolished the meal, some came back again and again. There were plenty of leftovers.

The Thank You

We didn’t know each other and they didn’t have to come out of their rooms to eat with us but it felt like a family dinner nonetheless. It was such a happy night and we laughed, joked, and ate with each other as if we’d done it every year. Not so secretly, I’d like to do it again and again.

In the theme of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for:

  • SAY and the lifesaving work they perform
  • Mary & Jose Tamayo for helping SAY to keep kids warm, safe, and off the streets
  • my own family that keeps me warm
  • my awesome LSR classmates, for we are all of the same heart, striving to help others and make a difference
  • Jill, J, Julie, Vicky, Steve (for putting in so much time) and all the rest that made such amazing food
  • the dishwashers!
  • the kids that sat with us, trusted us, and let us in
  • Cat Cvengros and Matt Martin, just two of the amazing angels at SAY
  • and that pumpkin cheesecake recipe!

May your Thanksgiving be full of warmth, love, and lots of wonderful food to eat.

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Kerry Rego New Board Member

As of February 2011, I was appointed to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board for the City of Santa Rosa by City Council Member Scott Bartley. This advisory board “provides City staff with input on the type of pedestrian and bicycle transportation projects that should be considered for commuting and what priority those projects should have.  These efforts culminate in the preparation of the City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan.”

Since being appointed to the board (my term is 4 years), many people have assumed that I am on the Sonoma County Bike Coalition and confusing the groups. They are very different. The BPAB supports City Council and addresses both bicycle as well as pedestrian issues. The coalition is just for bikes and is a civilian based non-profit interest group.

I just wanted to clarify and let everyone know I am excited to be a part of the civic process! I am not passionate these subjects by themselves. What I AM passionate about is where I live and making it the best place it can be. Let me know if you have anything I should be aware of. Go Santa Rosa!

Free Speech Under Attack, Thank Your Librarian!

Particulars:
Banned Books Week
Last Week of September
Banned Books

Banned in the Children's section

I visited my local library this past weekend and saw these displays of books that were saved from being banned. I was blown away because I’d read almost every book displayed. (The Bible, The Color Purple, Fahrenheit 451, Harry Potter, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Huckleberry Finn, The Giving Tree, The Indian in the Cupboard, Harriet the Spy and more) See my Flickr album here.

Please, please support your local library! Remember intellectual freedom is about the right to learn. “BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.” This is the basis of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Please don’t take it for granted. When we take things for granted…..they disappear. Speak out!

Nature in the Neighborhood

Particulars:
Saturday July 10, 2010
Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens
1550 West Ave., Santa Rosa
(view my Flickr photo album)

Bayer Farm

I am a fairly new member of Rotary Club of Santa Rosa West and my club does something special. The club has for the last two years provided new members or “Red Badge-r”s the opportunity to take a $1000 stipend and either donate it to a cause or turn it into something more. The first year this was done an event to fundraise for a program called Dogs for Diabetics. (I will talk more about their upcoming July 17 soon). My team has decided to support the Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens which is commonly known as Bayer Farm. We visited the site to get a better feel for what they do. (stay tuned for an announcement of the way my Red Badge team will support the farm)

Community gardeners, currently 37 families, maintain 34 plots as well as the common land. It sits on City of Santa Rosa land and will eventually be turned into a public park. The city provides the water and compost setup while LandPaths is the organization that operates the endeavor. The main goal is providing a chance for urban families to experience nature by maintaining their own gardens, education, and supporting the neighborhood.

Community gardeners must agree to perform a predetermined amount of volunteer hours before being assigned a plot, pay $20 per year as an honorarium, and continue to participate in maintaining the community grounds. There is a waiting list but thankfully it isn’t too long.

Sunflower

Redwood Empire Food Bank runs a Free Summer Lunch Program Monday-Friday 11:30-1pm in the summer, feeding an average of 80 children a day.

It has a teaching & demonstration garden and workshops are taught where one can learn various things like how to plant a winter garden (upcoming Aug. 21 and I WILL be attending). The cost for the workshops are on a sliding scale, approx. $20 at the top end. They are hoping to incorporate cooking classes soon. The produce that is a result of the teaching garden is sold at the Bayer Farmstand right on site August-October.

Friday events are a community party. Aztec drummers, food, families, pumpkin carving in season, puppet shows and more. They partnered with KRCB on Tom Sawyer Day with many small town activities for the kids including a treasure hunt and three legged races.

Several nearby schools have educational relationships with the farm. Curriculum has been developed and provided to teachers so that they can bring their classes to the farm on their own, if desired. Educators are also encouraged to use the farm for lessons other than gardening. If they can think of ways to teach math, science, languages and more using the space, bring it! The Girl Scouts and 4H have many days spent in the sun, working on the land. 4H is donating the produce from their plot to the farmstand. High school kids are able to log in their required volunteer hours working at Bayer. Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) even get their kids that are staying in the shelter out of the house and into the therapeutic work of gardening in their plot.

The greatest need Bayer Farm has is the money to pay for the operating costs of the program as well as the salaries for the employees it takes to make everything run. They also have something unique, Magdalena, LandPaths’ Bayer Farm Outreach Coordinator. She is bilingual and that is absolutely necessary in the neighborhood that Bayer is located in.

If you have a recession/victory garden, are part of the slow food movement, love sustainability, your community, are locally minded, want to fight obesity, raise awareness about the importance of getting back to the land and feeding our brothers good food, please visit Bayer Farm. You will fall in love and want to romp the grounds like a little kid. And I promise I won’t tell anyone if you climb the big tree.

The Big Tree at Bayer Farm

The Big Tree-the first some kids have ever climbed

%d bloggers like this: