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September 2016 People

Hope for the Homeless

St. Joseph Health will provide $1 million in grants to 33 nonprofit organizations that help provide basic needs for the hungry and homeless in Sonoma, Napa, Humboldt and Orange counties, as well as California’s High Desert communities. The grants were made possible due to the commitment of St. Joseph Health’s California hospitals, which each contribute 10 percent of their net income as part of their dedication to creating healthier communities and serving the common good.

The initiative is aimed at providing for the most immediate needs of the poor and disadvantaged: food and shelter. According to a recent report from the United Way of California, one in three households statewide don’t have enough income to meeting their basic costs of living. Struggling families are particularly burdened by high food costs.

Community Action Napa Valley, the county’s safety net for hungry and homeless people, will use a portion of its $40,000 grant from St. Joseph Health to provide breakfast and dinner to 320 homeless adults and give food to more than 10,000 people per month. Other programs that received funding include Redwood Empire Food Bank, Arcata House in Humboldt County and the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. In total, eight programs in Northern California received funds, as did 19 in Orange County and six in the High Desert.  The grants ranged from $10,000 to $40,000.

Life Stories

In an age of increasingly technology-based entertainment, Petaluma’s West Side Stories, founded by Dave and Juliet Pokorny, takes the opposite approach. Taking place the first Wednesday of every month at Sonoma Portworks, the premise for this gathering is refreshingly simple: People get together and tell stories. The event has become increasingly popular since its inception in 2010, even selling out during its 2015 GrandSlam competition.  

 At the start of each event, potential storytellers drop their name into a hat, and 10 names are picked. The rules are that every story must be true, original, told on stage without notes and completed within a five-minute time limit. Audience members at the event serve as judges, with the winner earning $50 and bragging rights. At the annual GrandSlam competition, a panel of judges selects the grand champion, who receives a trophy and a plaque.

The event isn’t the first of its kind. West Side Stories was modeled after The Moth in Brooklyn, a national storytelling nonprofit founded in 1997. If you’d prefer a non-competitive format, there’s also a similar monthly event in Santa Rosa, entitled the Do Tell Story Swap, which meets the first Tuesday of every month at the First Congregational Church of Christ.

The organic nature of these events has an undeniable allure. The intimacy lets people connect and share whatever they choose. Dave Pokorny adds, “We’ve met with Petaluma’s downtown association and we’ve agreed to launch The Wine Country Storytelling Festival in October of 2017.” Storytelling just might be the next big thing.

Bells Were Ringing!

On July 11, Summit State Bank officers traveled to New York City to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange (SSB is celebrating 10 years being listed on the exchange). As part of the corresponding video display in Times Square, the Sonoma County-based bank shared the attention with a certain North Bay publication. It was the BEST!




In this Issue

Business is Blooming


Dairy Dilemma

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Sustainable Farming


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