Members Enjoy Impact Grant Updates


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt our 2014 Annual Meeting last June, Impact100 members gathered to hear presentations describing three amazing projects that would benefit Sonoma Valley.  On Saturday, October 25th, the membership had the opportunity to learn about what has transpired with each of those projects during the past four months.


As the recipient of the $100,000 Impact Grant, RN Morgan Smith from Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) was appreciative of the opportunity to not only express thanks for supporting the Diabetes Wellness Project of Sonoma, but also to provide some background information about the food bank and to share their progress to date.  Founded in 1987, the mission of the REFB is straight forward: to end hunger in our community.  Serving more than 2000 people in the county each month, the food bank provides more than 14 million pounds of food per year to its clients, half of which is fresh produce.  This is accomplished with a staff of 50 and more than 5,000 volunteers.  They also rely upon more than 170 “food partners” to assist with distribution of food throughout the county.  In fact, a Community Grant from Impact100 in 2013, provided funds to establish a food “hub” in the Sonoma Valley that increases the efficiency of numerous hunger-relief agencies in the valley to access fresh produce and other staple food items for their clients.

The REFB has long had a presence in Sonoma Valley; however, the 2014 Impact Grant supports the expansion of a project that targets a specific health issue: diabetes wellness.  Working with the Sonoma Valley Community Health Clinic (SVCHC), specific services include monthly distribution of diabetes wellness food boxes, distribution of blood glucose monitors and supplies, 1:1 counselling at food distribution sites, access to a monthly diabetes group clinic at the SVCHC, and retinal examinations for early detection of eye damage due to diabetes.  Morgan explained the importance of meeting patients at the point of need before they reach the point of complications.

Morgan reported that they are on course to meet their client targets.  Since August, the project has already provided 123 screenings to more than 60 clients; 120 people are receiving assistance and supplies; the retinal camera has been purchased and will arrive next week; and 14 patients are enrolled in the first group clinic that will take place in early November.  Such clinics are extremely valuable as people learn from others who are going through the same day-to-day challenges and struggles that they are experiencing. Morgan also shared two personal stories.  One described a breast cancer survivor, who has just celebrated 23 years of sobriety, but who finds that diabetes is her greatest challenge as it is present every single day.  The second was Laura, in her early 30s with two children, whose early diagnosis means that she may well avoid some of the long-term effects of diabetes.  “To be part of their stories to me is quite profound.  We are able to do that because of your support.”

REFB volunteersMorgan closed with an invitation to Impact100 members to help pack food boxes and enjoy a tour of their new facility on November 5th.  Members who are interested in participating should contact Impact100 member, Meg Sokolowski ( as soon as possible.


The next presentation was by John McCaull, the Land Acquisition Project Manager for the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT).  The SLT, in partnership with the Parent Hospital Association and Sonoma Ecology Center, was the recipient of a $20,000 finalist grant focusing on Transforming the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). The project focuses on developing a community vision for the future of the SDC site but with three key goals in mind: (1) Retain health care services on the property for both current residents and for the community; (2) Protect the land to support habitat and wildlife movement as well as clean water for wildlife and residents; (3) Expand recreational opportunities by expanding parkland and providing nature-based environmental experiences for current residents.

SDC siteJohn mentioned that a coalition of interested agencies and organizations has been meeting for some time about this project.  The goal is to hire a facilitation team to undertake a comprehensive planning, public education and outreach effort to create a vision and preferred alternative for the future of the SDC site.   John was pleased to report the grant from Impact100 “got the ball rolling” and helped to convince other funders, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, that there is strong community interest and buy-in.  As a result, the SLT has now raised more than $480,000, which is sufficient to begin community vision activities in January and February.  He anticipates that the process will take about 18 months, and will result in a financially viable plan for the extraordinary property that will become an asset not only to the county, but to the entire North Bay.  John describes the SDC property as “our Presidio” in reference to the 1996 mandate of the U.S. Congress that the Presidio Trust come up with a management plan that included making the Presidio financially self-sufficient by 2013.  The Trust did so, 8 years ahead of the scheduled deadline.


The second recipient of the $20,000 Finalist Grant was the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance (SVMA).  Speaking on behalf of the Mentor 100 Project, Impact100 members Cherie Hughes and Karen Rathman described a group mentoring pilot project which they, along with Patsy Wynn, helped to initiate.  Each of them was interested in becoming a mentor, but the existing one-on-one mentoring model did not work for their personal situations.  They inquired about the possibility of sharing mentoring responsibilities, and the pilot project was born.  Group mentoring not only worked for their lives, but it also proved to be a model that worked well for the seven 7th grade girls who became their mentees.  The girls not only had a mentor to relate to (in fact three of them), but they learned to be supportive of one another and how to get along, despite “not liking” each other.

Mentors wanted 3Now, 13 years later, Cherie explained the importance of the pilot as providing the opportunity to see the potential to a new approach to mentoring and evaluate its effectiveness.  The Impact grant is helping to “roll out the group mentoring model.”  In September, the SVMA hired a part-time coordinator; orientation and training is now underway; mentor recruitment will take place in November and mentor training in December.  This will allow the program to fully launch in January 2015.  The goal is to have 8 mentoring groups by the end of May and eventually, a mentoring group in every school in Sonoma Valley.  Cheri and Karen encouraged the attendees to consider attending an informational meeting on mentoring to be held on Thursday, November 13, 5:30-7:30 pm at Ramekins.

Following a Q&A session, Constance Grizzell (Grants & Greater Impact) and Grace Meeks (Impact Grant Chair) encouraged attending members to consider becoming further involved in Impact100.  All committees and respective contact persons are available on the Impact100 website at: