The Impact of Impact100 Sonoma

On Saturday, March 23, Impact100 Sonoma held its Spring Grant Update at the Vintage House.  Sydney Randazzo, Education Chair, welcomed members and guests with the exciting news that Impact100 Sonoma will be awarding $228,000 in grants on June 22.  Since the organization’s inception, Impact100 members have granted nearly a half a million dollars to support local nonprofits and programs, and the grants from this year will bring us to the $690,000 mark!  That is quite an impact!

But the real purpose of this event was to hear from those who received grants in 2012 and to learn how those grants have impacted their organizations and those they serve.  Constance Grizzell, Vice President of Grant Programs and Greater Impact introduced the following speakers who shared project updates:

La Luz family-services** Impact 100 $100,000 Grant – La Luz
Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, President of the La Luz Board of Directors
Maritza Barajas – Former client and now serving as a Family Advocate

Claudia provided a brief update on the plans for the La Luz expansion, which will be so critical for their clients. With the Impact100 grant, they have also been able to increase the number of client advocates, one of whom (Maritza) spoke eloquently about her experience as a teen at La Luz.  I was struggling and needed help to graduate high school.  La Luz helped me with tutors.  It was hard but they were encouraging and kept on me.  They saw a lot of potential in me and helped me discover it.  I grew as a person.  I became more centered, more confident.  I am now happily married with a child, and last year I became a U.S. Citizen.  Now I’m giving back to La Luz as a Family Advocate.

10000 Degrees vanessa, bobbi, kiara, kai** $15,000 – Collaboration Grant – 10,000 Degrees (Collaborating with Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance and Sonoma Valley Education Foundation)
Traci Lanier, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for 10,000 Degrees

The collaborative partners have been meeting with middle school principals, students, and parents to leverage resources and promote college access as a way to counteract a shift in attitude that occurs with young teens. When 6th graders talk about the future, they can see themselves in college.  By the time the students reach the 9th grade, they are no longer talking about the possibility of going to college.  From these initial meetings, strategies have been developed to engage alumni as role models, carrying the vision and value of continuing education.

Calif Parenting Institute 2 - 1** $15,000 – Innovation Grant – California Parenting Institute
Claudia Esparza Mudgett, Coordinator of Sonoma Requests

Parenting classes have expanded from helping families with children ages 3-18 to families with children ages 0-18.  CPI has also networked with La Luz, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center to expanding the Positive Parenting Program. Claudia briefly spoke about a family that was having difficulties involving communication and cultural issues. After working with CPI, the family is now stable and the children are flourishing. The father wanted to be with us but was working and unable to attend.  He asked to share this message: We feel like we’ve won the lottery.  We never imagined that the Positive Parenting Program would help us be closer to our kids.  The way that you raise your children today will be reflected deeply in their future.

Bookmobile 1** $3,250 – Innovation Grant – Sonoma County Free Bookmobile
Glen Weaver, Director of the Bookmobile Program
Terra Stephens, El Verano Pre-School

The grant monies have been integral in increasing access to books and enhance literacy among underserved populations. Glen and the Bookmobile have made stops all over the Sonoma Valley including La Luz, Sonoma Valley Teen Center, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, Sonoma Developmental Center, Boys and Girls Club, Sonoma Overnight Support, and El Verano Pre-School. Terra described the impact of the Bookmobile: The kids were amazed at the immense size of the Bookmobile and were eager to look inside.  They were so excited when they were told they could pick out 3 free books each.  Glen mentioned the need for book donations, but the lack of a drop off location in Sonoma.  One quick phone call by Patti England to her son, and an offer was made!  The Bookmobile bin will now be located inside the Union 76 station at 2nd Street West and West Napa Street.

** $15,000 – Capital Grant – Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)
Sandy Piotter, Co-Chair Steering Committee

FISH has been able to upgrade their facilities significantly.  The carpet which was old, very worn, and disgusting in places, has been replaced with shiny new linoleum.  The contractor generously donated his time and only charged for materials which meant that the Impact grant stretched even further.  FISH invested $2,000 in retrofitting the lighting, and thanks to volunteers and steep discounts, they received $4,000 in products and services!  The grant also helped FISH to improve security and safety in the parking lot, which have significantly improved volunteer morale, increased safety for clients and volunteers, and provided a cleaner environment in which to package food for distribution.

Sonoma Overnight Support** $11,000 – Capital Grant – Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS)
Cindy Vrooman, Board President
Elizabeth Kemp, Former Board President and Board Member

SOS is seeing a significant influx of clients, who are participating in the residential program and who utilize support services including access to shower facilities and laundry. The residential component includes an opportunity for up to 4 men, 4 women, and a family to stay at SOS’s Haven for up to six months.  During that time SOS works with the residents to identify their challenges, develop a stepped plan to overcome those challenges, and provide needed services including counseling, employment, assistance in signing up for social services, applying for low income housing, and planning for long term, stable housing. The Impact100 Sonoma grant monies have been used to replace worn and torn linoleum and carpet, and to purchase and install closet organizers to provide for more living space in the shelter bedrooms.

Willmar 1** $9,000 – Capital Grant – Willmar Family Grief and Healing Center
Dr. Catherine Mahler – Facilitator of Willmar’s Project Grief Reach
Tess Woodbury – Former client and current Willmar volunteer working with children

The grant has been used to fund On the Go Kits which are utilized at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in support of children who have experienced grief related to death or serious illness.  The kits contain art materials, journals, and games. Recently, volunteer and outreach workers, through Willmar’s Grief Reach Program, used the kits at Dunbar School following the anniversary of the death of a teacher. The students worked with the volunteers and made friendship bracelets. The kits have been so successful that Willmar is now in the process of restocking the kits with supplies.

With each update, we learned not only how the funds have been used, but we also heard the personal stories of individuals who have been helped through the services provided by these nonprofit organizations. Each story confirmed to each of us the power of giving and the true impact of Impact100 Sonoma.

Many thanks to our major underwriter for the year, Union Bank, and our two member event sponsors, Sharon Cohn’s Massage Envy and Kat Forsythe’s Get A Second Wind, for providing support for this amazing event.

Union Bank

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