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 gala event, which in 2016 was the Oct. 1 Lobster Boil, and in 2017 is the Lobster Fest, on September 30th.  In the 2016-17 year, Sebastopol Rotary gave over $48,000 in grants to 37 projects.  Here is a sample of our support:
            - Analy High School – Laser Cutter for Project Make Classes
            - Graton Firefighters Association – Portable radios
            - Redwood Empire Food Bank – Weekly food for 24 students at Parkside School
            - West County Health Centers – Medical device for monitoring anti-coagulants
            - West Sonoma County Union High School District – Chromebooks with cover for disadvantaged students. 
 
If you want to apply for a grant, click here.
 
 
               - 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.
 
               Through the years Sebastopol teachers have supported this highly-valued program for their students.  Learn to Swim educates 370 youngsters per year and involves 100 instructors and supporting volunteers.  Since its inception 33 years ago, over 10,000 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 2018, 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.
 
             
               - 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, www.ragfamsafe.org, as well as the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, policy@cpedv.org, Futures without Violence, www.futureswithoutviolence.org, and The National Network to End Domestic Violence, http://nnedv.org.  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.
 
 
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