Civic responsibility. It’s a duty I never thought a lot about when I was raising two children and working a full-time job and maintaining a house and just trying to find a few quiet moments to relax on the couch. But now that the children are grown and we’ve begun this wonderful life here in Sonoma, I find that I have the time and the interest to get involved. Like the vines depend on the soil and sun and rain, the people of the Russian River Valley depend on each other for information and support and friendship. Below are a few worthy organizations I’ve gotten involved with and, if you’re local, you should, too:
- I recently attended my first meeting of the steering committee for the Russian River Valley Girls, an offshoot of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers. This group of women are leaders and partners with their husbands in the wine industry, be it wine grape farming, wine making or the hospitality industry, which is central to promoting the first two. Because they work so hard, their initial goal was to get together every other month for two hours to socialize, eat, and drink fabulous local wine. Two hours. That’s all they asked. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t enough for these motivated women, who’ve created several programs to raise money for scholarships for area high school seniors. I am the membership chairwoman for 2013, a task I gladly will perform.
- On a recent morning, I woke up at 5:30 to attend my second breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise. We met at the Laguna Environmental Center to attend a presentation by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation to educate us about the importance of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest freshwater wetlands complex on the northern California coast. This collection of creeks, open water, marshes and wetlands is a wildlife refuge and the watershed for the lower Russian River Valley communities, which helps us with our water quality and flood control. It has been designated a Wetland of International Importance, one of only five in the state and 30 in the entire nation. Many of us weren’t even aware of this beautiful facility, which will now be a stop for all our guests in the future.
- I am a student once again. In order to become a member of the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus, I had to audition for the group and enroll in the Santa Rosa Junior College, which oversees the chorus. I was thrilled to pass the audition but I flunked my civic lesson: I was asked to sing “My Country, 'Tis of Thee,” and forgot half the words. The chorus practices every Monday from 7-10 p.m. on the beautiful Santa Rosa campus, and our first performances will be Dec. 7-9 at the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa.