The Youth Initiative

Sustaining Our Community for the Next Generation

In early 2009, the Sonoma Valley Fund established a Youth Initiative Committee to explore the many challenges facing Sonoma Valley’s youth, and to attempt to address important community concerns such as the perceived low numbers of local high school students going on to college or meaningful jobs, continuing reports of significant drug and alcohol problems among Valley youth, and disappointing levels of academic performance versus comparable schools around the state.

Over a nine-month period, the Committee met with more than sixty people, all of whom are intimately involved with youth issues in Sonoma Valley, including middle and high school students, parents, heads of youth-oriented nonprofits, school administrators and teachers, local experts, philanthropists, and others who have been involved with youth issues for years. The outcome of these discussions was the development of specific recommendations to benefit Valley youth of all ages, with the primary focus on programs and activities directed at late elementary and middle school kids.

To implement the recommendations, Sonoma Valley Fund has formed a new Coordinating Council for Youth Development in Sonoma (CCYDS – pronounced Kids.) The Youth Initiative is an important example of ways in which the Sonoma Valley Fund works to strengthen our community, as we are uniquely positioned to organize consortiums, like CCYDS, where combined resources can accomplish a common purpose.

Celebrating Community

Quarryhill Botanical Gardens was the setting for the Sonoma Valley Funds’ annual celebration held on July 13 this past year, where the fund honored special volunteers selected by its non-profit partner organizations, recognizing them as “Sonoma Valley Stars.” The range of volunteer activities performed by the awardees covers everything from cooking meals for teens, bringing cheer and flowers to those hospitalized and helping seniors prepare tax returns to spearheading fundraising events. Their levels of commitment and longevity of service as described by the presenting host from each organization are truly inspiring.

This was SVF’s third annual celebration for donors, nonprofit partners and community leaders. Over 200 guests wandered through Quarryhill’s Asian woodland gardens, learning about its unique botanical species from Executive Director Bill McNamara and docents, while enjoying refreshments prepared by Sonoma Valley Fund’s Board members and Advisors.

Celebrating Legacy Giving

On Sunday afternoon, December 6, 2009, more than 90 legacy donors to Sonoma Valley Fund and our nonprofit Partners thrilled to the classical and contemporary music of Musaic, an a cappella men’s chorus based in San Francisco. The concert, which was held in the extraordinary and elegantly decorated wine cave of our generous hosts, Renée and Rick Dellar, kicked off the holiday season with flair, and was followed by champagne and chocolates, as well as other treats. Sonoma Valley Fund thanks Musaic and our hosts for helping to create this unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate legacy giving.

Caitlin Childs