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Sonoma Valley Fund honors 23 'star' volunteers

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More than 250 guests gathered in Sonoma Ecology Center’s Garden Park on Sunday, Oct. 4 to celebrate Sonoma Valley’s most dedicated volunteers. The event, organized and sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Fund, an affiliate of Community Foundation Sonoma County, is held annually to honor exceptional volunteer service in the Valley.

“I am once again reminded of the powerful tradition of volunteering we have built in our community,” said Joshua Rymer, Sonoma Valley Fund’s President. “The stories of the many and varied contributions made by each of the 26 Sonoma residents who give their time, talent and treasure to one or more of the Valley’s nonprofit organizations is simply inspiring. These are the unsung heroes who show up and work everyday for thanks, but no pay. These are the people who make nonprofits possible in our Valley possible.”

The 23 Star Volunteer Award recipients are Sonoma residents who have given their time and talent to one or more of the Valley’s nonprofit organizations. The Fund partners with 20 local nonprofits, and those organizations select their “star” each year. The recipients, four of whom were not present, received a statue engraved with their name and the organization for which they serve, as well as a certificate of appreciation from County Supervisor Susan Gorin.

Here’s how the Sonoma Valley Fund described its 2015 honorees:

• Eric Gullotta joined the Board of Directors of Becoming Independent in 2013 and has served on the finance and audit committees, and now as President of the Board. Gullotta’s energetic nature enables him to excel in his law practice, as owner of the Sonoma Stompers, and as a committed ambassador for Becoming Independent.

• The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley has relied on Lisa Carlsson for her creativity and talent. She has been critical to the development of the visual brand identity for the organization as well as fundraising events for the past five years.

• Linda Alwitt’s volunteer work at Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH) includes dispatcher, grant writer, web master, data coordinator, steering committee member, Sonoma severe weather shelter secretary and organizational innovator.

• Thai Hoang offered his professional experience with computer software to help Hanna Boys Center, and spent countless hours with the staff upgrading Hanna’s client support software.

• Isaac Vargas is an office volunteer at La Luz Center who embodies the ideal characteristics of commitment, dedication, flexibility, integrity and energy. He is an office volunteer and is also involved with the Promotores Program which brings Health and Wellness awareness to the Valley.

• For 10 years Gayle O’Hara has provided invaluable adoption center support at Pets Lifeline by sharing her charisma, experience and knowledge of the shelter with visitors and newvolunteers.

• Steve Corey has been volunteering at Quarryhill Botanical Garden for four years, leading docent tours, taking photos, and assisting as a greeter, parking attendant and cart driver.

• Mark Etherington has been involved with Seeds of Learning for more than 10 years, serving multiple terms on the Board and volunteering at all events and activities. He has led over 20 groups of volunteers from California to Nicaragua and El Salvador to work with rural communities constructing schools.

• Corin Rasmussen is the coordinator of the Community Center’s annual Fourth of July parade which attracts more than 10,000 spectators and 100 parade entrants.

• Bill Myers and Linda Pavlak hosted several now-annual fundraisers for the Sonoma Ecology Center to rebuild community support for local parks that were in danger of closing.

• Ginny Richardson has been a member of the Sonoma League for Histroic Preservation for 15 years and worked tirelessly overseeing the restoration of the General Joseph Hooker House and his legacy in the larger context of U.S. history.

• Jesus Aguayo Zuniga works a full-time job in San Francisco, takes classes at U.C, Davis to become a nurse practitioner and still finds time to play a pivotal role supporting patients at the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center.

• Meg Sokoloski volunteers in the office of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation where she helps with preparation for the Red & White Ball, including the annual Wine Sponsorship Program.

• For eight years, Hilda Teran Franklin has been a standout volunteer to the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation, contributing countless hours of her time; serving on the Foundation Board of Directors, and committees for Celebration of Women and the Magic of Christmas, and using her creative talents as its “auction guru.”

• Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance honored Voit McKarre for his inspiring relationship with his mentee Luis, and Stephanie Stubbs for her mentoring of Moises, who now lives with Stephanie and her family.

• Stan Abercrombie and Paul Vieyera have curated exhibitions for the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, using their vast background in art and architecture, helped with numerous museum events and established the museum art library.

• Sweetwater Spectrum honored founders Carolyn Klebanoff and Fred Cohen for providing guiding leadership and wisdom instrumental in the development of Sweetwater Spectrum.

• Jerica Tercero and David Wells worked as a team this year for Teen Services Sonoma to produce the entire live auction for the Cowboy Cab fundraiser and more than doubled the live auction earnings over last year.

• Together Marcie Waldron, Bill O’Neal and Eric Peterson have tirelessly helped Vintage House increase its relevancy in the face of a burgeoning senior demographic. Their marketing skills guided Vintage House through the creation of a new branding image, tagline and marketing videos.

For more information, visit sonomavalleyfund.org.