$35,000 in Awards Distributed to Recognize and Support Nonprofit, Volunteer, and Community Leadership.
SONOMA COUNTY, CA, June 15, 2022 – Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2nd Annual Heart of Sonoma County™ Awards. 300 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members attended the first in-person event held Thursday, June 9th, 2022, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. 98 nominees were recognized in eight award categories, and recipients were announced for each award. A total of $35,000 was awarded to the recipient’s organizations, and five Youth Volunteer of the Year recipients received $1,000 each in scholarship funds.
“We have come together to focus on the positive, our strength as a sector, the value of our collective work and to recognize and celebrate the leadership talent [in our community] and what we love about our local nonprofits, who are bold, courageous, and innovative,” said Linda Jacobs, CEO at CVNL. “With contributions of their time, talent, and treasure, the individuals and organizations nominated for the Heart of Sonoma County Awards demonstrate that Sonoma County is a community of great leaders that do the right thing.”
Comerica Bank was the Presenting Sponsor. Mike Silva, Market President, North Bay and San Francisco Regions, had this to say: “Comerica Bank is extremely pleased to have a role in recognizing so many nonprofit community partners and the many wonderful people who give their all to serve others. CVNL has been doing this for many years in Marin and Napa counties and we are pleased to support this tradition of recognizing the nonprofit super stars here in Sonoma County.”
Corporate Community Service, Sponsored by CVNL.Anesthesia & Analgesia Medical Group, Inc. (AAMGi) received the Corporate Community Service Award for their work partnering with Operation Access, a nonprofit that matches uninsured people who need specialty care with medical professionals who are willing to donate. In 2021, AAMGi’s 70 anesthesiologists donated services to 74 low-income community members throughout Sonoma County participating in more than 94 procedures and gifting more than $150,000 in estimated care, resulting in an 80% reduction in emergency room visits.
The Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Marin-Sonoma, recognizes an individual, other than a board member, who has provided exemplary volunteer service to a Sonoma County Nonprofit. The 2021 Heart of Sonoma County Award for the Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote. Project Coyote is a national organization whose mission is to promote compassionate conservation and coexistence between humans and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy. Keli helps ranchers reduce conflict between livestock and wildlife and travels throughout Sonoma County to educate residents on successful methods for living peacefully with neighboring wildlife.
The Excellence in Board Leadership Award, sponsored by Summit State Bank recognizes an exceptional volunteer member of a Sonoma County nonprofit Board of Directors. The 2021 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Excellence in Board Leadership was awarded to Kim Rothstein, Sonoma Family Meal. Sonoma Family Meal envisions an equitable, sustainable, and resilient food ecosystem. At their community kitchen, they convert locally sourced ingredients and rescued perishables into meals for families and seniors experiencing food insecurity. Kim has taken on the tasks of treasurer, volunteer coordinator, real estate negotiator, kitchen developer, food packer, and any place needing support. Recently, Kim took the lead in searching for the perfect location for their new headquarters and commercial kitchen, negotiating a lease, finding local restaurant equipment suppliers, contractors and architects, and led the team to produce an amazing kitchen for community emergencies, training and sharing with other nonprofits.
The Excellence in Innovation Award, sponsored by CVNL, is presented to an individual, organization or partnership that has developed new, creative, and effective strategies for advancing solutions to critical issues in our community. The 2021 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Excellence in Innovation was awarded to Volunteer Fire Foundation. Volunteer firefighters have been the backbone of emergency response in rural Sonoma County for more than a century, but the proliferation of mega-fires since 2017 has elevated their role from provincial to central. They launched in 2020 to identify and meet the most pressing needs of the 600 critically overlooked and underfunded volunteer firefighters. Their programs focus on supporting firefighters’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
The Youth Volunteer of the Year award, sponsored by Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund, recognizes five full-time middle or high school students serving in a Sonoma County nonprofit, education, or faith environment.
The five Youth Volunteer of the Year Award recipients included: Ferne Alvarez, Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley for her service of the past seven years, volunteering with the Athletics program as a volunteer coach as well as the afterschool programs; Elise Curtis, for her volunteer work with Ceres Community Project, Pepperwood Preserve, and the Jewish Community Free Clinic where she has continuously volunteered despite COVID-19 shutdowns; Blake Thomas, The Bird Rescue Center. Blake volunteers during every school break, typically completing two shifts per week. His duties include feeding and caring for hundreds of baby songbirds and assisting hospital staff with medical exams and treatments; Galen Freed, Sonoma Ecology Center. Galen is an extraordinarily knowledgeable, talented, and outgoing herpetologist at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, which Sonoma Ecology Center runs for the State. Galen has been volunteering there since he was 12, leading hikes, introducing visitors to the wildlife, repairing trails, running errands, removing snakes from potential conflict with people, and accompanying field trips. Galen is best known for showing reptiles to visitors at events, where he draws on kids’ inherent fascination with animals to teach them lessons about science and nature; and Oscar Fernandez, Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. This past year Oscar has been part of the Youth Development Internship where he worked closely with elementary aged students during summer school to assist with their literacy and math skills.
The Excellence in Leadership Award, sponsored by Medtronic, is presented to a CEO who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and whose vision has inspired meaningful and lasting change benefiting the organization and community. The 2021 Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to Naomi Fuchs, Santa Rosa Community Health. Naomi began at Santa Rosa Community Health when she joined the board in 2001. Then, the organization had one site and 43 employees. Today, they serve over 50,000 patients a year, employing more than 500 staff across nine sites. Throughout her leadership, she influenced change not only in Sonoma County but throughout the State. Her achievements inspired other leaders to bring bold innovative visions to life for people whose voices and needs often go unheard in public policy decision-making.
The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, is presented to an organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to its constituents. The 2021 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence went to Russian Riverkeeper. Russian Riverkeeper has been protecting the Russian River since 1993 and operates several programs to fulfill its mission to inspire the community to protect it forever. With the assistance of thousands of volunteers, Russian Riverkeeper is the voice advocating on behalf of the environment and the hands helping to clean, monitor, and protect the health of Sonoma County’s beloved Russian River. In 2021 Russian Riverkeeper assisted with 64 properties being treated and restored after local fires threatened toxic runoff entering the environment.
The Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Redwood Credit Union is presented to an individual who has made a positive and notable difference during their career by significantly contributing to addressing a cause, issue, or discipline. The 2021 Heart of Sonoma County Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Ann Hancock. She co-founded The Climate Center in 2001. Ann believed that for climate protection to succeed, places like her home community of Sonoma County had to set the bar. The Climate Center’s first goal was to have Sonoma County and all nine of its cities commit to the Cities for Climate Protection program by 2002. Thanks to Ann’s visionary leadership, Sonoma County became the first region in the nation to have all its jurisdictions 100% committed to greenhouse gas reduction goals. Starting from zero, Ann helped Sonoma County become a national climate leader and subsequently inspired the state and nation. In 2014, Sonoma County was recognized by the White House as one of sixteen Climate Action Champions worldwide.
All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Senator Bill Dodd, Senator Mike McGuire, Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblymember Marc Levine, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Assemblymember Jim Wood, and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, winners (except Corporate Community Service) received an award of $5,000 for their nonprofits. The five Youth Volunteers of the Year received $1,000 each.
The Awards were sponsored and presented by Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (Corporate Community Service); Kaiser Permanente, Marin-Sonoma (Volunteer of the Year); Summit State Bank (Excellence in Board Leadership); Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (Excellence in Innovation); Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund (Youth Volunteer of the Year); Medtronic (Excellence in Leadership); Community Foundation Sonoma County (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence); and Redwood Credit Union (Lifetime Achievement).
“In the 29 years CVNL has produced these events, we’ve been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of nonprofits,” said Jacobs. “CVNL is a resource, connection, and voice for the nonprofit community and the challenges we face, and has offices in Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma County. We stand united with our nonprofit stakeholders ready to support them in 2022 and beyond.”