2018 Grant Recipient Update -- Nonprofits Benefit Sonoma Valley
Rest assured that your membership dollars are being used wisely and well! Just ask anyone who attended the 2018 Grant Recipient Update meeting on March 16 -- all were moved to joy, laughter and tears hearing stories and successes shared by the nonprofit presenters.
Below are summaries of the presentations.
Becoming Independent (BI)
$20,000 to increase their per-client dollar amount to $150/day and to help fund/expand client-selected activities such as field trips, classes, supplies and activities.
We all like to personally select which classes and activities we attend and how we spend our day. BI clients do too and, thanks to the grant, some have chosen to take yoga classes, volunteer at Pets Lifeline, join the Community Kitchen, and attend horseback therapy. They are able to engage with the community in meaningful ways, learn stress relief and relaxation techniques, and feel the freedom of making choices in their own lives.
Cancer Support of Sonoma
$20,000 for the Patient Assistance Fund to help clients dealing with cancer receive low-fee complementary therapies that are rarely covered by insurance.
It wasn't long ago that this nonprofit didn't even have a home. No longer. In their new facility, thanks largely to the grant, they have provided over 600 therapies to community members including 150+ acupuncture and 100 Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions, 250 Lymph massages, 30 Naturopathic and Nutrition consultations, and 14 Support Group sessions. No one is turned away for lack of funds in this oasis of compassion, treatment and care, to quote a client.
Jack London Park Partners
$15,970 to expand the successful pilot program that offers an in-depth investigation of ecosystem dynamics and bio-diversity to all Sonoma Valley 7th graders in Fall 2018.
The grant allowed the program to expand to two more schools: Sonoma Charter School and Altimira Middle School, including six science teachers. Using professional tools, the student ecologists collect data and information, identify diversity levels in various ecosystems, analyze and process the data. The goal is to train students, and the community, to be wise stewards of our local ecosystems that are increasingly challenged by climate change.
Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB)
$20,000 to provide more than 13,300 pounds of fresh produce to food-insecure neighbors in Sonoma Valley
After the fires of 2017, REFB recognized changing needs in Sonoma Valley and adjusted their strategy to broaden their reach to people in need. Healthy fresh produce is now distributed every other week on Craig Ave., two evenings per month at both St. Patrick's in Kenwood and First Congregational Church, and two more distributions per month at Jack London Village.
Sebastiani Theatre Foundation
$20,000 to fund 83 scholarships for Latino youth of low-income families to attend Sebastiani's after-school and summer performing arts camps.
A full 80% of camp teachers are "graduates" of these beloved programs, a testimony to their impact on children's lives. Formerly entirely fee-based, the grant money is allowing kids to attend who were previously unable to, including 30 full summer scholarships - with 12 more this year - and 20 for the after-school program. Scholarships were offered in groups so each recipient knew at least one person attending -- and all want to return this year.
Sonoma Community Center
$20,000 to upgrade aged and outdated safety features, and increase accessibility in the historic 102-year-old building.
This much-used community resource is safer for everyone now that all fire/smoke alarms have been replaced and linked directly to the Fire Department; the stairways have been resurfaced and non-skid treads attached; and entrance doors have been fitted with automatic door openers so can the building can be easily accessed, and exited, by all.
Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS)
$20,000 to expand its free Day Services program to meet increased demand and prevent it from having to cut back its hours.
Due in large part to receiving the grant, SOS is open daily 9:00am -- 1:00pm serving approximately 30 people per day, a 17% increase. Here are some numbers: 2,038 showers last year; 478 washer/dryer uses that includes clean clothes to wear during the washing; 12,000 meals for day clients; 900+ bus/taxi passes. Eighty-five percent of SOS clients come from Sonoma or the Valley.
Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (for Valley Vibes Orchestra, ViVO)
$20,000 for the expansion, from 50+ to 100 K-12 students, of ViVO, an after-school and summer professional music instruction and orchestra program that serves many at-risk socio-economically disadvantaged youth.
A melody is worth a thousand words. Fourth grader Sarai Martinez, a viola student who only joined ViVO last June, played Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". Enough said. Receiving the grant allowed ViVO to add a new beginners string class. In addition to learning music skills, students in this full-scholarship, no-fees program gain leadership skills, learn emotional control, and build safe and healthy relationships with other youth as well as our entire community.
Vintage House (VH)
$20,000 to fund an external study of the Sonoma Valley senior population to determine their current and future needs in order to inform Vintage House's future programs and services.
In receiving the Impact100 Community Grant, Vintage House was able to attract additional funding for their project. After a thorough pre-funding process, a survey went out in February 2019 to members of VH, residents who are engaged with VH, and others who are not affiliated. Five hundred responses were received, more than anticipated. VH is currently crunching the data -- stay tuned to hear specific results and their plans for the future.
$100,000 Impact Grant Recipient La Luz Center
$100,000 for La Luz's Computer Literacy and Employment Services
Impact100 financed $100,000 of this program that is budgeted to cost $215,000 and now employs a Program Navigator, Job Specialist and two Advocates. Increasingly, local employers require skills-certificates, which is tough for those who lack English language proficiency, formal education, and the technical/computer skills to even take a certification test let alone tackle a job application. Due to these challenges La Luz has expanded the program from one to three years. So far so good: Between December and June 2018, fifty people graduated from ESL classes; 18 have gained employment; others have increased their wages and/or received a job promotion. Currently, 34 people are enrolled in the January -- March 2019 program.
Kenwood Education Foundation did not present. They received a partial Community Grant of $10,030 to fund KIDS (Kenwood Investing in Dynamic Students) enrichment programs for the 2018-19 school year after the 2017 fires prematurely ended their annual KIDS fundraising campaign.
Impact Grant Finalists Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance and Sustainable Sonoma received $10,000 in unrestricted funds. They did not present.