County of Sonoma Honors Outstanding Volunteers
Nominated by the County Departments for which they volunteer, here are the 2017 Outstanding Volunteers Celebrated on April 19, 2018
Published: April 25, 2018
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, fourteen individuals were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding volunteer service for various County departments and programs. Hosted by County Administrator Sheryl Bratton, Supervisors David Rabbit and Shirlee Zane, and Program Manager Sylvia Lemus, the festive event at the Fairgrounds celebrated the amazing contributions made by the 2017 nominees – contributions that have benefited our #SonomaStrong community.
During 2017, over 4,500 volunteers contributed over 200,000 hours of time and talent! The Volunteer Recognition Reception is just one small way to say thank you to these incredible volunteers:
Adam Cordova – Sheriff's Search & Rescue Team
Adam joined the Sheriff’s Search & Rescue team two years ago and his medical background as a registered nurse as well as his military training has made him an invaluable member. During the Tubbs Fire, after safely evacuating his own family, he answered the call and arrived at a chaotic scene as hundreds of evacuees arrived at the Finley Center evacuation site. Red Cross had not arrived, so Adam did his best to set up the site by establishing communication with agencies, setting up a first aid station, engaging CHP for traffic control at the site, consolidating donated supplies, assisting with locating missing persons among the sites, and establishing an evacuation plan for the site.
His efforts continued until Red Cross had the situation under control. Despite being displaced by the fires, Adam’s efforts to address the safety, medical care, transport, and information needs of the community was above and beyond. He did not hesitate or withdraw from the needs of the community during its greatest time of need.
Mark Fajardin – Hazardous Material Response Team in Fire & Emergency Services
Mark has been a major contributor as a volunteer with the Hazardous Materials Response Team in Fire and Emergency Service since 2002. In August of 2017, a tanker truck carrying gasoline and diesel had overturned on Highway 1 near Salt Point State Park, creating a potentially hazardous environment. Mark’s experience with industry operations, especially in regards to the transportation of gasoline and diesel fuel helped to avert a dangerous situation. The department appreciates Mark’s dedication and professionalism and is proud to present Mark Fajardin as the 2017 Hazmat Volunteer of the Year.
Mary Fricker – Sonoma County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) at Adult & Aging Division of the Human Services Department
Mary Fricker has been a valuable volunteer for the Sonoma County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) since 2016. FAST provides consultation and financial analysis on cases of financial abuse of elder and dependent adults, and Mary’s knowledge of the business community as a former Press Democrat reporter, has been invaluable in providing context for complicated financial exploitation cases.
Her knowledge of the local community has allowed her to contribute her industry knowledge to our efforts of elder abuse awareness through the Elder Justice Coalition Publicity Committee, and she’s a vocal advocate for changing how we talk about aging, the potential for abuse, and about how to reach the community with this message.
Elaine Hart – Emergency Foster Home Program, Valley of the Moon Children's Center/Human Services Department
Elaine is one of the longest standing volunteers at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center. For 14 years, Elaine has embodied the Center’s mission through her exemplary care and attention of the children she supports in her role of childcare volunteer through the Emergency Foster Home Program. Not only has she cared for infants and children while their foster parents attend meetings and trainings, but she has also helped with fundraising events and their annual Foster Parent Picnic. As the lead volunteer, others come to her with questions and concerns that she brings to staff.
Elaine has built great relationships with staff, volunteers, and foster parents. She provides for the children in a caring, nurturing, and compassionate way and her reputation among the foster parent community has led to them inviting her to provide respite care in their homes. Elaine is truly an outstanding volunteer and the Center is honored to have her on their team.
Wilbert Horne – Fire & Emergency Services
Will Horne is a 58-year fire service professional and has volunteered for 16 years at the Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department. He recently retired from his years of fire service in January 2018. Throughout his tenured career, he has responded to hundreds of calls for service in Mayacamas and most recently was on the fire lines supporting fire during the October wildfires.
Will is credited with the revival of the Sonoma County Volunteer Fire Companies Association and served as President of the organization for many years. His role in this organization have prompted related agencies to work together to explore options for the future of fire service volunteers. Will has been selected as this Fire Services Outstanding Volunteer because of his exceptional tenure in the field and his dedication to providing a lifetime of emergency response services to the community.
Gary Jones – Inmate Program & Service Team, Sheriff's Office/Detention Division
For the last 7 years, Gary Jones has spent over 20 hours per week, volunteering on the Inmate Programs and Services Team, between the Main Adult and North County Detention Facilities. Gary owned a local business, Jones Tile, for 35 years and when he retired he decided to volunteer. He provides spiritual education and support to inmates through one-to-one visits and group bible studies. Gary works tirelessly to provide the inmates a compass, a purpose and something to hope for. When he sees progress and positive results, it ‘fires’ him up to do more.
Gary teaches the inmates to think of others before themselves, so they reenter the community with a positive mindset. Gary arrives at the jail with a smile, suit, tie, and a positive attitude. The Detention Division Program Staff is grateful for Gary’s unwavering dedication and commitment.
Jim Karabochos – Volunteer In Policing (VIP), Sheriff's Office
For over 12 years, Jim Karabochos, has volunteered with the Sonoma Police Department as a Volunteer in Policing (VIP), which operates under the Sheriff’s Office. He patrols the Sonoma Plaza, downtown Sonoma, and helps with parking enforcement. He also helps with other events throughout Sonoma County as part of his VIP duties.
Mr. Karabochos is a 72-year resident of Sonoma and is proudly serves as an ‘ambassador’ for the Sheriff’s office because of his familiarity with the City of Sonoma and the many members in the community. Jim’s energy and passion shows, as he puts in countless numbers of hours in planning, organizing, and implementing the annual Sonoma County Law Enforcement Volunteers annual appreciation day. On this day, law enforcement volunteers from throughout the county are recognized and celebrated. The committee is made up of various law enforcement agencies, who help raise funds, plan awards, and seek donations for raffles and food. Jim is a good role model for other volunteers. His initiative and leadership has raised the community’s awareness of volunteers in law enforcement.
Pat Moffitt – Animal Shelter, Animal Services/Public Health; Sheriff's Search & Rescue Team
Pat is a volunteer extraordinaire, since she volunteers for both the Animal Shelter and Search and Rescue. During the October wildfires, Pat’s help was invaluable to the Shelter. The amount of dirty laundry and dishes used by the animals became unmanageable and mountain-like during this time, but Pat was there every day. She worked from dawn to dusk to washing, drying, and folding the laundry; washing and sanitizing the dishes; sorting the incredible quantity of donations received at the Shelter; and helping with any tasks needed to keep the Shelter running. She helped with off-site mobile emergency response, taking supplies from the Shelter to fire shelters to help care for evacuees’ pets. The stress that the fires caused on the staff’s work was alleviated by Pat’s dedication and commitment to public service and the Shelter.
Jae Newman – Matter of Balance Coach, Adult & Aging Division of Human Services Department
Jae has been volunteering as a Matter of Balance coach since January 2016, coaching seniors to prevent falls. Jae is a certified Pilate’s instructor who teaches seniors in her business, and her volunteering as a Matter of Balance coach is a natural extension of her wish to help seniors gain strength and confidence to lead happier, healthier lives. She incorporates strength building and helps participants reduce their fear of falling and isolation. Jae has partnered with program leadership to educate and train other Matter of Balance volunteers. She took the lead in the Fall of 2017 to develop an educational team building event with other coaches which was modeled after a gym with stations to learn and socialize. It was highly successful and participants gave positive feedback about Jae’s training, with some considering it ‘learning that brought results while bringing creativity and joy.’
John Prouty – Auxiliary Communications Systems (ACS), Fire & Emergency Services
During the October wildfires, John volunteered numerous hours supporting communications at the Sonoma County Operational Area Emergency Operations Center and also on field assignments as a radio operator. As an Auxiliary Communication Systems (ACS) volunteer, John introduced an online application system that volunteers can indicate their availability and sign-up for deployment during emergencies and activations. The system was used as a sign-up mechanism for over 140 ACS volunteers during the fires and beyond. We’re incredibly honored that John identified the need to improve this process and that his solution benefited and supported the team and the County.
Debbie Schneider – Juvenile Hall Library, Probation Department
Debbie has been a dedicated volunteer librarian at Sonoma County’s Juvenile Hall since January 2005. She is known for greeting everyone with a smile and her warmth and care for the youth and staff at Juvenile Hall is evidenced by her many years of steadfast service. She catalogues books, sorts through donations, and repairs well-loved books. Debbie checks in with the youth learning their favorite authors and genres, and takes the extra steps to help them find books that interest them, sparking their interest and affinity for books.
On top of volunteering, Debbie always supports the Juvenile Hall Christmas Program, and brings her family to help sing Christmas carols for the youth during an emotionally trying time for them. Debbie’s generosity of time, heart and talent has a wide reaching influence on the youth within Juvenile Hall and we are so fortunate to have her as part of our team!
Stephanie Wrightson – Master Gardener's Program, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)
Stephanie has volunteered over 3000 hours since joining the Master Gardener’s program in 2010! She was a member of the editorial committee, responsible for the content and organization of the Master Gardener web page; she also significantly grew our Master Gardener Facebook Page to thousands of followers. She’s written articles on Food Gardening and has helped broaden community outreach and sustainable food gardening education to diverse populations in the county.
Stephanie stepped up into a leadership position on the Food Gardening Specialist team last year and was key in establishing a new leadership model for that team. Stephanie has made many varied contributions to the Master Gardeners, and brings a wonderful attention to detail to everything that she does!
Betty Skinner & Sue Laurence – Camp Hosts, Regional Parks
Betty and Sue have been volunteer camp hosts with Regional Parks for the past ten years and have each logged over 10,000 hours. As camp hosts, Betty and Sue live and volunteer in different campgrounds throughout the year. They welcome campers into the park, helping to ensure they have a fun and safe time. They typically spend over 30 hours a week assisting park staff with the day-to-day operations of the campgrounds such as selling firewood, meeting and greeting campers, coordinating the reservation system, stocking bathrooms, general maintenance and just about anything else you can imagine.
Betty and Sue are extremely kind and generous people who take pride in our campgrounds, always representing the County of Sonoma in the best possible manner. Regional Parks is extremely fortunate to have Betty and Sue as volunteers and it is an honor to name them as Outstanding Volunteers for 2017.
Recognition of Local Community Businesses
This event could not be what it is without the generous donations from local businesses in Sonoma County. Throughout the afternoon, all the volunteers attending the celebration had a chance to win wonderful donated prizes. The Employee and Volunteer Engagement and Recognition Unit of the County of Sonoma is grateful for outpouring of support this event generates each year and would like to acknowledge the following businesses:
Alsco, Best Best Kennels, Charles M. Schulz Museum, East West Café, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Guayaki Yerba Mate, Hank's Creekside, Jail Industries, James F. Morton Construction, Inc., La Rosa Tequileria & Grille, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Mary's Pizza Shack, Mi Ranchito, Paint Nite, Rialto Cinemas, Safari West, Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, Sonoma County Event Center, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, the girl & the fig, The Villa, Warm Stone Therapeutic Massage, and Winchester Mystery House.
- Schools of Hope
- Take Your Child to Work Day
- Day of Caring
- Employee Service Awards
- Public Service Recognition Week
- Volunteer Program
- Internship Program
- Case of Excellence
- Back to County Of Sonoma