Sebastopol and West County is a special place.  The club has long committed to directly addressing community needs through its own volunteer activities, as well as providing financial support to other organizations that address important local problems and goals. 
               - Community Grants – The club’s Community Grants program funds many worthwhile and needed projects throughout West County communities.  Much of the funding for these grants comes from our annual fall Gala, Tropical Escape, which we held in January, 2020, after the original October date was cancelled due to the evacuation in the face of the Kincade Fire.  Because of the fire, our grant process was interrupted, but in 2019, the Club, with the assistance of the Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation,  gave out 22 grants, worth almost $40,000.  Some of them were:
       - Analy High School - new musical instruments
       - Monte Rio School - a new reading garden
       - Laguna High - a washer/dryer for students
       - The Humane Society - a trailer for a pop-up shelter
       - Redwood Food Bank - Park Side backpack feeding program
       - Sebastopol Senior Center - new toilets
In addition, the Club agreed in 2018 to work with the Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary Club to contribute $30,000 to support the placement of a new Super Playground in Sebastopol's Libby Park. We raised our share of the money by making tamales. Under the supervision of Mario Ramos, a Club member who operates the delightful Mexico Lindo restaurant in Graton, Club volunteers made thousands of tamales that they then sold at 2019's Apple Blossom Festival, 2019 summer's Peace Town concerts, and Saturday markets.  On top of that, Club members contributed their time and effort to demolishing the old equipment in 2019 and completing the installation of the playground in May, 2020. 
The 2020 grant process was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.  Even before the coronavirus, the Club had donated $5000 to the Northern California Rotary Disaster Relief  Fund, but, once it was clear how devastating the stay-at-home orders would be for local organizations and businesses, the Club decided that it should focus entirely on them..  The Club has now committed $30,000 to community crisis/COVID-19 support.  That money has thus far been divided among various important projects:
        - Chamber of Commerce grant to assist local businesses: $17,500.
        - Feed the Frontlines relief project - $5000+
        - West County Community Services COVID-19 project - $2500
        - Graton Day Labor Center COVID-19 relief - $2500
        - Ceres Community Project COVID-19 relief - $2500
We are reviewing our Community Grants Program.  Please return later.
           - Community Projects - The club has a long history of volunteering its time to support good community causes. In 2019-20, the Club's members turned out to help on a variety of projects, even during the coronavirus.  Here they are:
          - Laguna Environmental Center - We held a workday during which we sanded and painted worn buildings and benches, gardened the grounds, and repaired tools.
          - Sebastopol Senior Center - Led by retired contractor Jim Pacette, we painted and did general maintenance.  
          - YWCA - The Santa Rosa East Club and the District  funded this project, where club members installed new fencing at the Y's shelter for victims of domestic abuse and helped maintain the property.          
          - Redwood Empire Food Bank - Members stay the food bank once a month, sorting food and preparing distribution. 
          - Libby Park - helped complete installation of new super playground.      
            - Learn to Swim – Learn to Swim, one of our signature programs, strives to teach every second grade child in Sebastopol basic water safety/swimming skills.  While the immediate goal is water safety instruction, the program also alleviates the fear of water found in about 20% of the students.  We employ student water safety instructors who are teamed up with Rotarians, spouses, and community volunteers, making this project truly inter-generational.  The program takes place in the spring, so it was cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus, but the club plans for it to return in 2021.
Through the years Sebastopol teachers have supported this highly-valued program for their students.  In 2019 Learn to Swim educated 400 youngsters with the help of 100 instructors and supporting volunteers.  Since its inception 35 years ago, over 11,000 students have gone through this program.  We are proud of how much joy we have given to kids who have taken to swimming pools and the beach after learning how to swim, and we rejoice in how many lives we have saved because of the lessons we have taught.
Greg Jacobs, the co-leader of Learn to Swim, explains that the students love the program: “When we had a mix up one day and there was no bus at one of our schools to take the kids for their lesson, the entire class started to cry.  Could there be a better proof of how much those children want to get in the pool?” 
He says the reason the program, which is held at the Ives Pool in Sebastopol, has been such a fixture for so many years is that the instructors make the program fun for kids.  “The adults who volunteer showed up when it was hot, when it rained, and every day gave it their all.  They know that for every 100 children you teach to swim, you save a life.”
If you want to volunteer for spring 2019, call Greg Jacobs at 707-823-7341 or Rick Wilson at 707-824-0846.
               - Rotary Summer Camp (aka Cool Kids Camp) ­– In 2000, Sebastopol Rotarian Tom Farrell believed it was important to create a program to aid in the healing of children who had been abused sexually, physically, emotionally, or exposed to family violence.  By 2008, the six-day resident camp had evolved into a District-wide project with nine Rotary Clubs in District 5130 sustaining its work through generous donations.  The camp now annually serves from 40-60 youth at the Cloverleaf Ranch in Santa Rosa.  The campers participate in such activities as craft projects, environmental studies, horseback riding, swimming, archery, and hiking.  For these kids, the best week of their year is often their stay in this idyllic, peaceful setting.
Sadly, Cloverleaf Ranch was heavily damaged by the October, 2017 fire.  But club members along with other Rotarians from District 5130 pitched in with both money and volunteer time to help get it back up and running for campers in the summer of 2018.  Although not all of the fire-damaged buildings were ready to go, camp took place as usual, to the delight of the lucky campers.   In 2019, the camp hosted 31 campers which was an extraordinary effort in light of the fact that many building were still not rebuilt.  In 2020, unfortunately, the camp was cancelled because of coronavirus.  But the club expects to send kids back in 2021.
               - Backpack Lunch Program – This year, Sebastopol Rotary is financially supporting the Backpack Project, a joint effort of Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary and the Redwood Empire Foodbank.  Every Friday during the school year at the end of the school day, 48 families receive a bag of staples, typically 5-8 different items including, fruits, vegetables, and packaged food. 
Volunteers deliver the food to Parkside School, where other volunteers unload it and repack it into 15 pound bags that children or parents pick up when the students are leaving school.   The goal is to assure that these children, whose nutritional needs during the week are often met primarily through the breakfast and lunch that they have at school will have food to carry them through the weekend.
          -  Family Safety/Domestic Violence Awareness - Current estimates are that one in three families in West County are subject to some form of domestic violence and that three women on average are killed by their significant others every day in the United States, according to the American Psychological Association. The Committee supports those who are harmed by domestic violence and tries to raise community awareness of this pandemic problem in order to curb what has become a rising and disturbing trend.
The Committee is aggressively pursuing its education agenda, providing outreach and education through public forums and club presentations and hands on projects both at the Club and in public forums. The Committee works with and supports the YWCA, Family Justice Center, and Verity, all of which work with those subject to violence and abuse.  The Committee also supports programs that promote peaceful conflict resolution strategies, such as the “Boys to Men” program.  has reached out to organizations like the YWCA, Family Justice Center, and Verity, all of which work with those subject to violence and abuse, to support their efforts and to coordinate anti-violence awareness programs.
As part of its outreach, the Committee has created and distributed “business” help cards, in both English and Spanish, along with posters placed in local businesses and public places to give key information and phone numbers about resources available to those in need.
It has also joined the District 5130 and International Rotary Action Group for Family Safety,, as well as the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence,, Futures without Violence,, and The National Network to End Domestic Violence,  By becoming part of the larger movement, the committee can draw on broader resources as it builds up its awareness and referral campaign.
Please join us! Explore actions you can take. Learn about - and advocate for - family safety and domestic violence prevention.
If you have been harmed by domestic violence and live here in Sonoma County, call 546-1234 for help now.