The Sonoma County that we love!

Posts tagged ‘donate’

The Living Room Center

The Living Room NeedsI recently met a woman that volunteers at The Living Room Center where they provide day services for women and children who are homeless. I told her that I had been wanting to donate some of my time to teach the ladies how to use LinkedIn to help in job searches. I was warmly welcomed and took a tour yesterday.

It’s located on Cherry Street in Santa Rosa and was quite active. It felt like a living room. Lots of chatter, activity, visiting, computer time, checking in with the volunteers, food, and support. Not all of the women are homeless but all need help in one way or another. LR gave referrals to community resources, including shelters, housing, food programs,  employment counseling, health and mental health programs and more.

I am so excited to have something of value to offer these ladies in the form of digital literacy, job search assistance, communications, computer skills, and personal confidence. I will be teaching small classes once per month and I can’t wait to get started. I had a tough period in my life, that if I’d chosen a slightly different path, I’d be in a completely different place in my life. I survived and am doing well so I want to help.

If you would like to help, check out this page Urgent Program Needs that shows ways they need help such as personal items for the women and needs for the children they love. They also need volunteers.

The Mission of The Living Room is to ease adversity and promote stability, dignity and self-reliance for woman and children who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, in Sonoma County.



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.

Nature in the Neighborhood

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.


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

For the Love of Books

The bedside table of a person that reads too much.

I am a bibliophile, a person who loves or collects books. I love the paper, I love the kinetic sense that I am educating myself.

One of my first memories of “being big” was on a trip to the library. My dad would bring me to the downtown Santa Rosa Library and lead me to the children’s section. Safely esconced among the kid stacks and watched over by a librarian, he would head over to the magazine section. He was such an avid reader that going to the library was a smart way to read as many of them as possible without having to pay the astronomical subscription price should they have been mailed to our house. After doing this many times, I finally decided to go find him when I was ready rather than wait for him to fetch me. I ventured into the cavernous main library room and took the long walk to the other side of the building. Since I couldn’t have been more than 6, that’s like hiking multiple football fields. As an adult, it only takes me 2 minutes to cross from corner to corner but it was the longest trek of my life up until that point. The pride I felt in overcoming my fear of that journey will forever stay with me. As well as the relief that my dad really was at the other end of that scary walk.

I’m passionate about books and I feel the same for the library. I love to get excited about a random subject, be it quantum physics, photography, organization or science fiction, and being able to read to my heart’s content. Try to do that at a bookstore or even Would you be willing to completely go out on a limb and research how to shoe a horse if it would cost you a lot of money to do so? I think not. I want to absorb information like oxygen, I’m greedy about it. I have visions of entering the Library of Congress and seeing endless stacks of knowledge spread before me. I have to remind myself that I can’t read them all and that they are constantly being written. I will simply not get to them all. Call me obsessive.

When I had a baby, my daughter seems to relish the open air space. She would tune up her little lungs and let loose just to hear the echo. No wandering stacks for me with a newborn. I learned that you could reserve books and have an alert email sent to you when it was ready. My daugher is almost 5 yet I still use this feature all the time. I regularly get recommendations for books from many sources and I can simply drop them into my queue. Whether I am number 1 on the list or 453 (as was the case with the “Twilight” books), I don’t have to do anything but pick them up when they tell me they are ready.

Join me at the Friends of the Library Book Faire at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds April 16-19.

Friday from 3 – 7:30 p.m. – Preview sale – $5 admission
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Half Price day
Monday from 2 – 7 p.m. – Bag Day – all books $4 a bag

Help support your local library. Research subjects you are passionate about.
Learn and never stop.

Make Room for Books

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteers) is launching a January Book Drive. Please donate new or gently used books which will be sorted on MLK Day (1/18/2010) by volunteers and delivered to non-profits serving children, ages pre-school to middle school. Donations may be dropped off at the Volunteer Center at 153 Stony Circle, Ste. 100, Santa Rosa or for more information call Laurie Parish, RSVP Coordinator at 573-3399 ext. 117,or email Laurie

Books for Kids

Furry Critters

Sunday 2/15/09
Sonoma County Fairgrounds Cat Show!!!

Okay, I know. I went to a cat show? Most people are dog people. I like them because I am also independent, mysterious, lithe, agile, and have lots of hair 🙂 When you’ve got kids, you’re constantly thinking of ways to get out of the house and have fun on a small budget. The fear is, they throw a temper tantrum and you have to leave. Or they simply hate it. So, putting a lot of money into adventures is no fun.

One note, since the fairgrounds is hurting for revenue (no surprise there), they are now charging the same price to park everywhere and there is no parking at the Veteran’s Building. I’ve been to many events at the fairgrounds that that wasn’t the case (fair itself excluded). So I had to hit up the ATM in order to have enough cash on hand to park and for attendance.

I told my daughter it would be like the dog show episode on Curious George and when we got there she was like, “Where’s the show?”. Since cats don’t prance around a circle like dogs do, I realized that she was underwhelmed. I on the other hand, take it as an opportunity to see the hairless cats! There were three or four. I wish I knew proper cat show protocol and had the guts to ask if I could touch one. I even thought about getting one but I heard they have all kinds of special needs.

I’ve had 11 cats and personally never “bought” an animal from a breeder. If you have love in your heart and some room in your home, please consider adopting your next furry friend from your local animal shelter. My last one (Bolt) came from the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter (love that place!). That same building also houses the Forgotten Felines, an organization that feeds and cares for feral cat colonies.

Anyway, it’s a great place to get all the kitty gear your heart could desire. I have a little girl and everyone knows girls and kittens go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Forgotten Felines display and cats ready for adoption

Forgotten Felines display and cats ready for adoption

My crazy Bolt!

My crazy Bolt!

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