The Impact of Impact100 Sonoma

On a rainy March Saturday morning, over 75 people, representing more than 60 members of Impact100 Sonoma and their guests, gathered at the Sebastiani Theatre to hear about the impact of Impact grants.  Presenters from seven organizations discussed how Impact100 grants have brought positive change to their organizations and to their broader communities.  Here we present each of these heart-warming reports.

Sonoma Valley Teen Services – winner of the 2011 Impact grant of $100,000

Abel Tirado, Tori Cooper of Sonoma Valley Teen Services

Abel Tirado, Tori Cooper of Sonoma Valley Teen Services

Tori Cooper is a senior at Sonoma Valley High where she is involved in agriculture and is raising a steer for 4H. To meet her leadership requirement for 4H, she volunteered in the No Name Café, a Skills for Life program located on the Sonoma Valley High School campus.  After completing her volunteer hours, she was hired as a paid attendant at No Name. Tori now also has a paid position at Blockbuster which she believes is the direct result of her work experience at No Name.  For her senior project, Tori developed a logo and signage for the No Name Café, a project she says she could not have completed without the help of Impact member Virginia Bertelsen.

Abel Tirado is a home-schooled student who joined the “Skills for Life” program and worked “the front of the house” at the recent Ragazzi Pop Up restaurant. This required that he commit 20 hours to complete a “five-star level” of training where he learned, among other skills, how to set a table for a four-course meal, greet customers and escort them to their tables, provide menu listings to the guests, take orders and relay them to the kitchen, all while ensuring the comfort of his guests.  When asked how he benefited from the program, Abel said the experience opened his eyes to fine dining.  He now wants to work in five-star restaurant.

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Women’s Initiative for Self Employment – recipient of $15,000

Diana Schraner attended the Paso A Paso (Simple Steps) program funded by Impact.  An 11-week, 22-session business management training program, it helps high-potential, low-income women start, strengthen, or grow their small businesses. Following the completion of the program, Diana opened Earth Colors Painting in Cloverdale.  In addition to being an on-site painter and decorative concrete installer, she has expanded her business to include refinishing furniture and offering furniture “upcycling” workshops where the public can bring in furniture to refinish using Diana’s supplies, books, and space.

Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, recipient of $7,500

Carolyn Manzi and Flor Suarez of Sonoma Mentoring Alliance

Carolyn Manzi and Flor Suarez of Sonoma Mentoring Alliance

Carolyn Manzi and Flor Suarez met when Flor was eight years old and could not speak a word of English.  They have been a mentor and mentee for six years.  Flor now lives with Carolyn and her husband Fritz as they are her legal guardians.  From not speaking of word of English nine years ago, Flor now speaks English and Spanish beautifully, plus she is studying Japanese, French, and German. Through opportunities afforded her through the Mentoring Alliance, Flor attended Sonoma Big Idea Dinners and made a film about the experience with a professional filmmaker.  She also spent a week living and studying at Sonoma State last summer.  Flor is waiting to hear about college acceptance, including from Stanford University, but her biggest dream is to live, study, and work in Germany.

Carolyn talked about the joy that Flor has brought into her life and that of her husband and about the rewarding experience it has been for them to watch Flor blossom from a painful beginning, experiencing bullying at school when she could not speak English, to her confidence and poise as a teenager, now that she is coming into her own.

Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH) – recipient of $15,000

Vicki Schnurpheil and Carol Sharp of FISH

Vicki Schnurpheil and Carol Sharp of FISH

Vicki Schnurpfell is a board member and coordinator of Client Services for FISH.  Before Impact’s grant, FISH volunteers, all of them over 65, worked in a clothing distribution building that lacked heat and air conditioning and that leaked when it rained.  Now, thanks to an Impact grant, Vicki says her volunteers “can’t wait to get to work” as the building has a new roof, upgraded electrical system, and a heating and cooling unit.   Vicki thanked a group of Impact members and their husbands who painted the building, removed old carpeting, installed new flooring, and built shelving.  She recognized Gretchen Gardner, another Impact member, and David Appelbaum who painted a beautiful mural on the exterior wall. Another Impact member was also acknowledged.  Barbara Sachs Senn is serving as volunteer chair for FISH’s Layette Program which distributes and delivers clothing and supplies to newborn babies.

Carol Sharp, a FISH volunteer for 10 years, is responsible for management and coordination of the federal surplus food program.  Carol talked about how this program has been an inspiring source of cultural integration as food is distributed to our Hispanic community and, as a result, FISH now has Hispanic volunteers.

Sonoma Ecology Center – recipient of $7,000

Mark Newhouse, Restoration and Sonoma Garden Park Program Manager, Sonoma Ecology Center

Mark Newhouse, Restoration and Sonoma Garden Park Program Manager, Sonoma Ecology Center

The Sonoma Ecology Center is involved in education, restoration, and research.  It all comes together in the Garden Park, according to Mark. He credited the Impact grant with setting off a chain of events. Impact’s grant paid for lighting in the garden, but now there’s also lighting in the barn, and the Ecology Center has more donations, more volunteers, and more potential than ever. In short, Impact has expanded the Ecology Center’s capacity to handle more functions, including outreach efforts.

Darryl Bellach, Treasurer of the Sebastiani Foundation

The Sebastiani Theatre Foundation – recipient of $3,500

Darryl Bellach, Treasurer of the Sebastiani Foundation

Darryl Bellach, Treasurer of the Sebastiani Foundation

With their grant, the Sebastiani Theatre Foundation will install a fire door in the theater in the next couple of months which will bring the theater into compliance with current building codes, including ADA requirements. Without the new fire door, the operation of the theater would be in jeopardy.  “But the fire door is a small part of what the Impact grant is doing for the Foundation,” Darryl said.  “We’re about changing lives, same as Impact.”   He talked about an experience the Foundation had with bringing abused children to a movie.  “We saw magic in their faces.”  Darryl went on to say that the Foundation was about creating magic and continuing the legacy of the Sebastiani Theatre, which he described as the heartbeat of Sonoma.

Sonoma Valley Community Health Center – recipient of $9,000

Kathleen Bianchi-Rossi, Grants Coordinator at Sonoma Valley Community Health Center

Kathleen Bianchi-Rossi, Grants Coordinator at Sonoma Valley Community Health Center

The Center is the largest medical/behavioral health office in Sonoma Valley.  It serves individuals working in local agriculture, monolingual minorities, low-income, uninsured/under-insured and the disfranchised, including the homeless. In 2010 SVCHC provided care for 7100 individuals which included more than 27,000 patient visits.  In March of this year, Impact’s Grant Oversight Committee approved a request by the Health Center to use their Impact grant for diagnostic equipment rather than medical equipment carts and supply storage units for two new exam rooms.  By purchasing an electro cardiogram, spirometer (which measures the volume of air expelled by the lungs), and a vitals monitor, the Center is able to serve more patients and provide them with the best possible level of care.

With thanks to our sponsors:

The Impact of Impact100Sonoma meeting was sponsored by Sebastiani Theatre and Get a Second Wind, Inc., a Sonoma firm specializing in events for women at midlife and beyond.   Katherine Forsythe, the owner, is a member of Impact.

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