9 nonprofits honored for pandemic relief in Sonoma Valley

Catalyst Fund recognizes nonprofits that kept Valley going through COVID-19.|

Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund has honored nine organizations for courageous leadership on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has required every organization and leader to adapt. But these nine organizations have provided the vital support that has helped our community persevere through an historic crisis,” said Katherine Fulton, Catalyst’s co-founder and coordinator. “They went above and beyond to help those most impacted, providing food, rental assistance, vaccines, support for young people and seniors and so much more. They have been creative, determined and flexible, showing a combination of competence and character that has inspired us again and again. Our community is in their debt.”

Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund works to improve our community’s collective response to the COVID-19 crisis. “The award was a way for the community to say ‘thank you,’” Fulton added.

The recipients include:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley

In spring 2020, when the pandemic forced the local schools to abruptly close, Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley (BGCSV) immediately created dozens of learning pods to help hundreds of students stay safely engaged in school and on track. BGCSV created an entirely new service structure focused on the wellbeing and safety of the kids and their families while meeting constantly changing CDC guidelines.

Food for All / Comida Para Todos

The pandemic caused gaping holes in access to basic services for the most vulnerable in the Springs neighborhoods, so a group of neighbors stepped up to fill the gap, making biweekly porch deliveries of essential food items to more than a hundred families each week. This all-volunteer organization has grown to be a trusted local service provider, having made more than 3,000 porch deliveries, as well as provided over 150 emergency COVID-19 food baskets.

Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)

In 2020, Friends in Sonoma Helping, an all-volunteer organization, did an extraordinary job distributing over $910,000 of rental and utility assistance funds to 1,156 local families who lost their regular income and needed extra help. Despite this being five times their normal caseload, they efficiently processed applications for assistance for rent and utilities with grace and dignity for the families in need.

La Luz Center

During the pandemic, La Luz Center not only continued to reach out to help those most in need, but most importantly, they stepped up to partner with local health agencies to coordinate and provide ongoing, culturally welcoming vaccine clinics, greatly helping hundreds of people get vaccinated.

Sonoma Overnight Support

Starting in March of 2020, Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) quickly shifted to increase their food program to provide hundreds of warm, healthy meals daily to the homeless and housing insecure by moving to the Springs Hall. SOS continued to pivot to provide essential services such as a bilingual resource specialist for their Spanish speaking clients (now 43%), housing placement, safe parking, access to vaccine clinics and in-home meal deliveries for homebound seniors in the Springs.

Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce

When the world shut down, the economy plunged. The Valley’s chamber launched daily and then weekly Zoom calls to coordinate the local business response, share information and advocate to public officials. Special programs included safe reopening kits supplied to 100 businesses for free, signage and certification protocols for reopening, help to the city on parklets and to Rotary on the Catalyst-Rotary grant program, a special website to support holiday gift sales, a job posting board and much more.

Sonoma Valley Community Health Center

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center's leadership exhibited creativity, flexibility, determination and hands-on practicality to overcome hurdle after hurdle to provide easy access to testing, clear health information for all, and finally, vaccinations. Despite countless changes in protocols, funding requirements and staffing needs, they bravely leaned in and kept asking: How can we reach out and help more people?

Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance

Sonoma’s signature industry received impressive and creative leadership from SVVGA, which provided a customized hub of resources, advocacy and support. The vintners and their employees got daily information on navigating the impacts of the crisis through many channels. Multiple new marketing vehicles were launched, as sales and visits changed continuously. COVID-19 testing was promoted. Then, in January 2021, SVVGA planned and established special vaccination clinics, resulting in more than 4,000 ag, wine and hospitality employees getting their shots early in the process.

Vintage House

Sonoma’s senior center was closed to the public for 18 months. Virtually everything they did had to change, as the center worked to provide support of many kinds to older residents enduring isolation. Communal meals became meal delivery and curbside pickup, and demand grew steadily peaking at 500 meals a day. Seniors learned to rely on daily check-in calls, grocery shopping, prescription delivery and online programming. Reopening has required yet another pivot, to a blend of old and new approaches.

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