Volunteer stars of our Valley

There is clearly something peculiar, abnormal, perhaps even mysterious about the behavior of otherwise rational people in this Valley.

To an extent that exceeds simple generosity and transcends everyday acts of kindness, we appear to be a community determined to take ownership of the social, educational, cultural and recreational needs of our residents, especially those in need.

We have created home-spun, grassroots organizations to feed, clothe, house, teach, heal, entertain, enlighten, transport and comfort others out of all proportion to the size of our population.

On Sunday, the dimensions of that phenomenon were placed in clear focus when the Sonoma Valley Fund held its annual celebration to recognize “Star” volunteers from nearly two-dozen nonprofit organizations devoted to the needs of others in our Valley.

Some of those honored, during a reception at Sonoma Valley Hospital, were among the usual suspects whose names have long been associated with good works for good causes. But many were among the largely unheralded army of volunteers who make the wheels turn and the doors open and the services provided without fanfare or recognition.

So Sunday was their day, and we felt it appropriate to share their names with you, along with a sentence or two on who they serve.

• Jim Lynch, former co-owner and CFO of this newspaper, was among the better known names, honored for his long tenure on the Sonoma Valley Advisory Board of Becoming Independent.

• Ron Gaiz was recognized for bringing his experience as a college professor to the College Bound Program at Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.

• Vicki Schnurpfeil received a volunteer star for her 17 years at FISH where she is now coordinator and oversees the $80,000 rental assistance budget.

• Kathy and Robert Arnold were honored for their longstanding support of Hanna Boys Center, of which their son is an alumnus.

• Keith Murray was recognized for his eclectic support at La Luz Center.

• Gary Germano, a longtime volunteer at Pets Lifeline, was celebrated for his ability to fix anything on a nonprofit budget.

• Pat Edelstein, Lori Ross and Jefra Parlett were honored for the wide range of volunteer support they give Quarryhill Botanical Garden.

• Rose Mary Schmidt was lauded for years of coordination and fundraising for Seeds of Learning.

• Sonoma Planning Director David Goodison, who moonlights on the Sonoma Community Center board, was honored for his 18 years of service and the millions of dollars he has helped bring the center.

• Marty Haidet was recognized for being the volunteer, volunteer coordinator at the Sonoma Ecology Center.

• Maria Biasetto received a star for her 20 years of service to the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation.

• The Sonoma Valley Community Health Center honored Nancy Kivelson for her help in finding a new home.

• The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation honored former UCLA chancellor Chuck Young for his weighty support.

• The Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation bestowed stars on David Good and Simon Blattner.

• The Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance honored Cathy Gellepsis and Jerry Klenow through the grateful words of the mentees they have inspired and helped.

• The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art thanked David Cole, founder of the museum’s docent program.

• Deb Carlen was honored by Sonoma Valley Teen Services for her “Skills for Life” workshops, and Oscar Lopez starred for his painting, repairs and fundraising.

• Patty Jackson was honored by Sweetwater Spectrum for her advocacy, fundraising and strategic thinking.

• Vintage House honored Wayne Gordon for 15 years of roasted turkeys served with 7,000 Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

• And Norman Wray was honored by the WillMar Center for a decade of volunteer counseling and assorted construction projects.

Our thanks and gratitude to all those honored, and to all those yet to receive the recognition they deserve for all they do to make this Valley such a uniquely special place.