Stanley Mouse poster helps Sonoma’s Sister Cities Association’s Kaniv Committee support Ukraine
The Sonoma Sister Cities Association’s Kaniv Committee will host a fundraiser event with a unique auction item to benefit the war effort in Sonoma’s Ukrainian sister city.
The event offers a night out at the historic El Verano Inn with live music from ZigZag, a catered meal, drinks and an auction for a 1988 Sister Cities poster signed by the acclaimed artist Stanley Mouse, who is famous for his ‘60s era rock ‘n’ roll posters of the Grateful Dead and other bands that performed at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
The committee is throwing the funky event to raise more money for Kaniv, Sonoma’s Ukrainian sister city. Before war broke out in the country earlier this year, the relationship between the cities was focused primarily on friendship. Now, the conversations are centered around how the committee can help the aid the besieged country in its war effort.
According to Kaeti Bailie, the chair of the Kaniv committee, the organization has already raised approximately $90,000 in relief efforts since Russian troops invaded the country in February.
The committee was originally wiring money directly to the city’s local government, but since its last fundraiser, it’s been transferring the funds to the Kaniv/Ukraine Friendship Society, an organization that works directly with the city.
“We’ve has incredible support from the Rotary (Club) and other local organizations,” Bailie said. “We know it’s a really generous local community and we really appreciate that.”
Former Mayor Larry Murphy founded the group back in 1985 as the Sonoma Action for Nuclear Disarmament, while it was still a republic of the Soviet Union. The local effort officially aligned itself with Sister Cities International, a global organization that forges relationships between participating cities, in 1987 when Bailie traveled to Kaniv with the official delegation papers.
Bailie traveled to Kaniv a total of three times, and was involved when it launched its student exchange program. When the committee established an official relationship with Kaniv in the ‘80s, its members welcomed 12 teenagers from three different Ukrainian cities to Sonoma. After the kids stayed for two weeks, 12 Sonoma teenagers traveled to Kaniv.
Sonoma native Jessica Fudim was 16 when she spent two weeks in Kaniv at a Soviet pioneer camp, which she compared to a summer camp.
“I think that programs like Sister Cities are so important because they provide rich opportunities for building empathy. Learning about others creates connection and it can dismantle preconceived notions,“ Fudim said. “I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to travel to Kaniv as a teenager and I continue to hold in my heart the many, many lovely people who I met there.”
Fudim still keeps in touch with a boy she met while she was at a museum in the sister city, at first through writing letters, and now via Facebook. He moved to Sonoma for few years in the ‘90s and worked for her father’s company before returning to Ukraine.
Fudim feels that her connections through her trip to Kaniv have given her a deeper perspective on the war. She raised $940 for relief efforts through a series of pilates classes that she held over Zoom through her company, Jessica Fudim Pilates.
“Naturally, we feel compelled to care for our family or our friends,” Fudim said. “Having traveled there, I do feel like it hits home in my heart.
“It just really brought it home, you know? I mean, they’re talking about places I’ve been to,” Erin Hill Freschi, Fudim’s roommate during the exchange program, said.
The committee and people who have been associated with it have felt the need to do more to help Ukraine in its war effort because of personal connections, which are still growing.
Anatoliy Leontyev, President of Kaniv/Ukraine Friendship Society, visited Sonoma in August, and had been keeping in touch with Bailie since. He has worked with mother’s of the men in Kaniv’s militia to find what they need. Through those conversations, the committee was able to send drones and sleeping bags to help the militia.
The committee aims to provide more relief to Kaniv through its fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the El Verano Inn, located at 705 Laurel Ave., El Verano.
Contact the reporter Rebecca Wolff at email@example.com.