B.R. Cohn Charity Events
Raising money for the needy, children and veterans
Bruce Cohn has been blessed with success as both a manager of rock icons like the Doobie Brothers as well as an entrepreneur and founder-proprietor of the award-winning B.R. Cohn Winery, an olive oil company and Olive Hill Estate Vineyards. But he has long-understood the importance of giving back.
His philanthropic efforts benefiting children, veterans and California communities close to home have been intertwined with his other great passions: music, wine and golf.
Mr. Cohn has raised money for community organizations for more than 28 years since he first established nonprofit B.R. Cohn Charity Events in 1985, the year after he founded the winery in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Oversight of the winery turned over to his son Dan Cohn in January, and Bruce Cohn has focused his full attention on charity events.
During the first six years after founding B.R. Cohn Charity Events, he organized the B.R. Cohn Winery Celebrity Golf Classic. That was followed in years seven and eight by the B.R. Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival. Originally held on a field at Sonoma High School in 1992, the concert series is now held each September at the winery amphitheater in Glen Ellen. Some 300 volunteers help produce this festival and related events.
In 2008, he added the Charity Car Classic, a vintage car exhibition that would be held for the next five years.
Last year, the 27th annual music festival raised $200,000 for the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, The Field of Dreams, The Guardsmen, The Station Foundation and American Legion Post 489 to benefit and honor U.S. veterans. That sum includes $35,000 for Redwood Empire Food Bank.
“This food bank does incredible work in Sonoma County, and especially in light of the recent reduction in food stamps by the government,” Mr. Cohn said. “It is a shame so many can go hungry in a region with so much bounty. The food bank is able to turn a dollar donation into several dollars worth of food — which is amazing.”
As a former manager of performing artists, Bruce Cohn knows how to bring talent together to benefit worthy causes. This list includes Willie Nelson, Journey, Cheap Trick, Greg Allman, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Bad Company, The Doobie Brothers and Pablo Cruise. Newcomers to the event are Heart, The Gin Blossoms as well as celebrity chef Guy Fieri.
“I’m extremely grateful to all of the artists that performed as well as to our loyal fans that have attended our events,” Mr. Cohn said. “It shows that a good time can be had while still generating hundreds of thousands of dollars for many deserving charities.”
Since the beginning of these charity fundraisers Mr. Cohn has donated a total of $6 million dollars to several local and national nonprofits.
“No other vintner of this size has raised as much money for the needy, children and vets in Sonoma County,” according to Michael Coats, co-producer of B.R. Cohn Charity Events.
Dierk’s Parkside and Midtown cafés
500 meal coupons to SAY for homeless youth
For chef Mark Dierkhising, owner of Dierk’s Parkside Café and Dierk’s Midtown Café, giving back involves donating 500 “Breakfast for Two” vouchers to Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), enabling homeless young people to enjoy a healthy breakfast.
In business eight years in Santa Rosa and with 46 years’ total experience as a restaurateur or chef at about 20 establishments, he comes from a family that is no stranger to the culinary world.
“Two of my brothers have three restaurants in Calistoga,” Mr. Dierkhising said. “One also owns a wine shop and catering businesses. A sister and her husband work at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and a brother teaches culinary arts at Laney College. In addition, two sisters have a candy company called Sweet Jules Gifts. Preparing and serving food is our family’s way of life. My dad started the family’s first restaurant in St. Joseph, Minnesota, after retiring from the Navy, and Grandma Sophia was a great cook too.”
Several years ago, a friend came to Dierk’s Café and told him about a program helping young people ages 14 to 24 on the street. A SAY representative came to his café, and the breakfast voucher concept was born.
“A lot of homeless kids don’t have the chance to be waited on in a restaurant,” Mr. Dierkhising said. “Many have never used a cloth napkin. I want them to feel good about themselves.”
When you look around Dierk’s Café you see a mix of our community.
“I want the kids to know they are an important part of that mix, not off on the fringe,” he said.
Mr. Dierkhising has supported SAY since 2006, donating live auction items for SAY’s annual fundraiser, by bringing sponsors to the event, and inviting new supporters to the table.
“My wife Karen and I wanted to get involved with SAY when we first learned there are over 700 kids on the street in Santa Rosa each night – more than the total population of my home town,” he said.
As a result of his gift, 1,000 Sonoma County homeless and foster youth have an opportunity to dine in style at Dierk’s. “He has been welcoming our youth daily from 7 to 9 a.m.,” said Matt Martin, executive director of SAY.
“The kids tell us they love the homey feel of Dierk’s, the delicious and large portions, the friendly service and knowing that people care. Mark has promised more vouchers when needed. His gift is opening the wider world of possibility and promise to the young people SAY serves.”
Mr. Dierkhising also supports SAY’s Job Education program by hiring SAY referrals to work in his restaurants. At Dierk’s, youth get real-world work experience while learning culinary skills, customer service, and responsibility.
For example, KRCB aired a documentary in 2013 called Health Connections featuring the story of Lani, a young chef-in-training who worked at Dierk’s after coming through SAY’s YouthLink Youth Employment program.
Mr. Dierkhising has served on the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Advisory Board and also volunteers and contributes to Worth Our Weight, Art Start, Meals on Wheels, Council on Aging, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma County Book Festival, Green Music Center, a number programs at Sonoma State University, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“As a family, we believe this age group is very important to support,” he said. “They are our future. While every commercial business exists to make money, we also want these young people to have jobs, get into the mainstream and be able to buy a home some day.”
E.R. Sawyer Jewelers
A company culture of supporting 75-plus nonprofits
Ame and Doug Van Dyke, owners of E.R. Sawyer Jewelers — arguably the oldest retail business in Sonoma County — grew up in the county and strive to give back. They carry on their family’s 135-year legacy and commitment to the community by helping maintain the quality of life for those less fortunate through their support of over 75 local nonprofits.
“Ame and Doug have personally raised more than $100,000 annually through the donation of jewelry for charity auctions as well as by giving of their time and expertise,” said Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, chief executive officer of YWCA Sonoma County and a nominator of E.R. Sawyer Jewelers. “Ame co-chairs The Garden Party at the McDonald Mansion benefiting The Living Room, and Ame and Doug co-chair the Mercedes Benz Dealer Golf Championship, which last year benefited the Family Justice Center.”
They both serve as mentors giving encouragement to nonprofit leaders and practical, event-related counsel.
The Van Dykes sponsor a member of their staff involved with the Active 20-30 Club and support this group’s functions.
The entire family — including children Paris, 9, Alivia, 11, Andrew, 14, and Bradyn, 19 — gets involved each year preparing a complete holiday meal at The Living Room, where they greet and serve homeless mothers and children. The Van Dykes bring their whole hearts to the families in need while serving as role models for the next generation.
The list of donation recipients includes the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, where Ame was honored and recognized among “InspiRED Women.”
The Van Dykes support Junior Achievement, Junior League, Santa Rosa’s Accelerated Charter School, Downtown Association and schools along with Light the Night and the Rose Parade. Within Sonoma County, their donations have been received by the United Way, Farm Bureau, Lifeworks, the Boys & Girls Club, the Sonoma County Fair, the 4C’s, the 4-H Foundation, the Junior Miss competition, YWCA, YMCA and Sonoma County Rotary clubs.
The Van Dykes’ focus on education benefits Sonoma Academy, Cardinal Newman High School, Sonoma Country Day School, Montgomery High School’s Education Foundation, Oak Grove Union District School, St. Rose School, Proctor Terrace Parent Teacher Assocaition, Bennett Valley Alliance of Parents and Teachers, Rincon Valley Charter School and its education foundation, United Anglers of Casa Grande High School and Willowside Elementary School.
The list of nonprofits supported also includes the Art of Dessert, the Schulz Museum, Research Center and Celebrity Classic, the Mark West and Challengers Little League teams, MDA, Catwalk for a Cure, Meals on Wheels, Giant Steps, Music for Life, the Sonoma County Museum, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, Girl Scouts, PDI Surgery Center, Sutter VNA and Hospice, Grammy Foundation, Jewelers for a Cause, Threads for Teens, Steve McGirr Charitable Foundation, John Ash Pinot Event benefiting Sutter Hospital, Active 20-30 Club Nos. 50 and 1029, and Verity Rape Crisis Center’s Cupcake Ball.
“If anyone has been counting, this list is not all inclusive and there are more nonprofits and worthy causes we could add,” Ame Van Dyke said. “Our goal is to make donations to organizations that support families, children and schools.”
The John Jordan Foundation
Focused on education and income-stability programs
The John Jordan Foundation, founded in March 2012 by John Jordan, chief executive officer of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, has an annual commitment of $1 million. It provides support for programs that serve Sonoma County’s most vulnerable citizens by emphasizing programs that provide the disadvantaged with the tools to succeed educationally and professionally.
“Our goals include identifying and closing gaps in the educational system, improving school performance and career readiness, decreasing negative health impacts associated with poverty, and creating opportunities for underserved populations to improve quality of life through loan programs and career training,” said foundation President Lisa Wittke Schaffner.
Santa Rosa Community Health Centers opened a new health and dental center in a 12,600-square-foot building at 1110 N. Dutton Ave. in Santa Rosa. The foundation has made a two-year total commitment of $250,000 to fund the new pediatric dental wing.
The foundation also has made a $250,000 pledge over five years to the success of the students of Scholarship Sonoma County, a new venture of Community Foundation Sonoma County in partnership with 10,000 Degrees.
The program provides early college exposure, college preparation and readiness workshops, mentoring, financial-aid advising and scholarship awards to students with high financial need and high motivation to attend post-secondary school.
In addition, the foundation stepped forward with a five-year $250,000 commitment to the Career Technical Fund. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors then allocated an annual contribution of $50,000 over five years to match that money.
Operated by Community Foundation Sonoma County, the fund is seeking an additional $140,000 in private donations this year to further support its workforce training programs in Sonoma County schools. It provided $17,000–$20,000 each to six Sonoma County school districts in 2013.
With funding from The John Jordan Foundation, Community Action Partnership has been able to provide direct services to hundreds of struggling families and children through the group’s MicroBusiness Development, Youth Connections and Financial Literacy programs. They enable hardworking people to become self-sustaining financially and emotionally.
Healdsburg Education Foundation received $25,000 from the Jordan philanthropy fund for Accelerated English Language Summer Academy, which provides instruction for 300 elementary school students.
Through the Jordan foundation’s Teacher’s Wishes grant program for Sonoma County teachers, it will fund 104 grants totaling $30,000 for 7,500 students at 91 schools from preschool through high school in 27 districts.
The foundation also established a $2,500 scholarship to be awarded to a Sonoma County student for the study of agriculture — mainly, viticulture and enology — to be administered by the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County.
Jordan giving also is supporting Tomorrow’s Leaders Today and Youth Empowerment Council plans to expand an understanding of career options and help youth make informed decisions.
In addition, the foundation supports the Foster Youth Mentoring Program at Forget Me Not Farms, Sonoma County’s Henry 1 rescue helicopter service, the “Earn It! Keep It! Save It!” program providing tax preparation for low- and moderate-income families and by helping Schools of Hope launch four new schools offering a proven, early-intervention model for students who struggle with reading.
Pisenti & Brinker CPAs and Advisors
Celebrating 50 years of philanthropy
Pisenti & Brinker, LLP, has been a leader in the local business community since 1965.
“We believe that along with leadership comes responsibility, and we’ve always taken our responsibility seriously,” said Bill Robotham, senior partner. “The firm’s philanthropy program started 50 years ago, and today the need for giving, supporting, volunteering and partnering is far greater.”
The firm co-sponsors an annual North Bay Nonprofit Conference and another conference focusing on Cross Sector Partnerships for the better good.
As the firm has grown, its members have spread out in the community to represent the firm as advocates for education, health and welfare, youth sports, arts programs and more. The following is a sample of this volunteer spirit among Pisenti & Brinker’s staff:
- Senior partner Bill Robotham serves as a director or adviser to local businesses and is a member of the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Foundation Board.
- Partner Jim Perez teaches a pro bono accounting and auditing class at Sonoma State University. The firm has recruited several interns and accounting graduates from the institution.
- Partner Ray Pounds sits on the Friends of Petaluma Campus Trust board for Santa Rosa Junior College and coached Petaluma Youth Soccer.
- Partner Tim Moratto is a Rotary member and served on the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Foundation Board.
- Senior Manager Josh Moore is chairman of the board of United Way of the Wine Country.
- Senior Manager Brett Bradford serves as vice president of the board for Social Advocates for Youth.
- Jim Caven is a Napa Opera House board member.
- Greg Fontana is the treasurer of the Community Support Network, providing psychological and social rehabilitation services to mentally ill and homeless adults.
- Director of Human Resources Patty Haynes is a Petaluma Educational Foundation board member, serving on its Personnel and Alphabet Soup (thrift store) committees. The foundation raises funds for Petaluma’s public, private and charter schools enriching the educational experience of more than 13,000 Petaluma students.
- Alicia Cerruti is a Petaluma Sunrise Rotary member. She chairs several events and will become president this summer.
- Ron Emanuel volunteers with Mentor Me Petaluma, working with a 7-year-old boy at an elementary school every week. He is an active member of Kiwanis of Petaluma, chairing a concession stand at the Sonoma Marin Fair — the major annual fundraising event — benefiting youth-related Petaluma nonprofits.
- Jodi Shubin, director of client and community relations, is a member of the Executive Board of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and chairs its Special Events Committee. She also serves on a committee for The California Parenting Institute to support their annual Gala. Ms. Shubin coordinates a career workshop for foster children at The Children’s Village. She is also a member of Sonoma County BEST and is currently involved in supporting the Food Industry Group with and for companies such as La Tortilla Factory, Clover Stornetta Farms, Traditional Medicinals and Amy’s Kitchen.
Pisenti & Brinker donation recipients include Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, more than $250,000 since 2006; Santa Rosa Symphony, $25,000; Green Music Center, $10,000; Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Foundation, $10,000; Petaluma Educational Foundation, $12,000-plus; Sonoma State University Foundation, $15,000-plus; and Sonoma County BEST, $25,000-plus.
Other nonprofits have also received generous donations from the firm. Beneficiaries include Redwood Empire Food Bank, Napa Chamber of Commerce, Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, United Way of the Wine Country, Active 20-30 club, Tomorrow Leaders Today, Roseland Collegiate Prep, Petaluma Educational Foundation, Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the North Coast Builders Exchange.
The Republic of Tea
Emphasizing the value of health, balance and well-being
The value of health, balance and well-being has been embedded in the DNA of The Republic of Tea since Ron Rubin purchased the company in 1994.
Company employees, including Mr. Rubin, actively support the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Action Against Hunger, Room to Read, Sunny Hills Services, Ethical Team Partnership along with the Rainforest Alliance certification and Non-GMO Project verification programs.
The company is partnering with Action Against Hunger and its Sip for Clean Water initiative by donating $1 from the sale of each tin of Watermelon Hibiscus Superflower tea between June 2013 and June 2014, up to $40,000.
The Republic of Tea also funded 62 microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries through the Whole Foods Market Whole Planet Foundation funding poverty alleviation worldwide.
In addition, the company gives $1 from the sale of every tin of Little Citizens herb teas sold to Room to Read for its programs building more than 1,700 schools and 16,000 bilingual libraries around the world. This organization publishes 885 new children’s books and supports more than 25,700 girls in pursing education. Since 2009, the company has donated $170,528 to help build 27 libraries.
The firm supports research at the Prostate Cancer Foundation with $1 from every tin of Superfruit Blueberry Green Tea. Since 2005, total contributions have reached $475,934.
Through the donation of $1 from every tin of Decal Strawberry Cherry Tea, $92,437 has been given to Sunny Hills Services, offering a full spectrum of services to emotionally traumatized children, teens and their families.
The company believes educational and career development opportunities are extremely important as students prepare for the work world. Since 2012, the company has given $5,000 a year to the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity’s Scholar Program, providing motivated students from low-income public high schools academic support needed to enter and graduate from four-year colleges.
The Republic of Tea also contributes to The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards and is a founding sponsor of the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation. It helps fund brain cancer research and pediatric initiatives.
Following the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami disaster relief effort as well as Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts on the East Coast, the company made donations to the American Red Cross.
“At The Republic of Tea, we embody the ancient Chinese philosophy of ta shun — the Great Harmony — where people naturally care about the world and depend on each other for the well-being of the whole,” Mr. Rubin said. ” It is a collective concern for others and aspiration to seek opportunities, initiatives and actions that will better the human condition as well as the planet. To provide good works, render goodwill.”
More than $4.5 million in youth group grants
Since its inception in 1968, Sonoma Raceway has made a significant impact on every corner of the North Bay through its charitable and community initiatives.
Sonoma Raceway has been a true benefactor to the region. It has granted more than $4.5 million since 2001 to Sonoma County youth groups through Speedway Children’s Charities, donated thousands of raceway tickets to North Bay nonprofits and hosted a number of community events. Those include annual donation drives for blood and toys, a children’s Christmas party and gifts of trees to local schools and municipalities.
“A business and its employees are an organic part of the economy, the culture and the support systems of the community in which we operate,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “We are particularly fortunate that the nature of our industry provides high-profile opportunities to engage sports enthusiasts and to channel their generosity in positive directions. It’s an effort that is core to our operating philosophy, and we are very honored by this recognition.”
Speedway Children’s Charities’ Sonoma chapter, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway, raised $234,670 for children in need through 10 fundraising events in 2013 during the raceway’s major-event weekends — NASCAR, NHRA and IndyCar.
Raceway staff members contribute time as board members for numerous local nonprofits, including 10,000 Degrees Sonoma County, Conservation Corps North Bay, Boys & Girls Clubs, Sonoma Valley Teen Services, Social Advocates for Youth, Sonoma Valley Fund, Native Sons of the Golden West, Speedway Children’s Charities and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Sonoma Raceway’s staff also participates in the United Way’s Day of Caring.
Speedway Children’s Charities is dedicated to serving the critical needs of Sonoma County children when it comes to providing basic family services. These services include safety, shelter, health and nutrition programs — covering dental, obesity and mental health — as well as leadership programs involving mentoring, gang prevention and other vital needs.
Forty-five Sonoma County nonprofits received grants totaling more than $211,000 from the Sonoma chapter in 2013. The chapter has distributed more than $4.5 million to Sonoma County youth groups since 2001.
Recipients include Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma County/Sonoma Valley, Committee On The Shelterless Conservation Corps North Bay, Court Appointed Special Advocates DeMeo Teen Club, FISH, Hanna Boys Center, La Luz Center, McDowell Drug Task Force, Mentor Me Petaluma, North Bay Children’s Center, Petaluma People Services, Redwood Community Health Coalition, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Roseland Charter School, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, Social Advocates for Youth, Sonoma Overnight Support, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (School Gardens, Kid Scoop, Every 15 Minutes), Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, Sonoma Valley Teen Services, Sunny Hills Services, The Living Room, Verity, WOM Children’s Home Foundation, Willmar Center and YWCA of Sonoma County.
Sonoma Raceway is also home to Levy Restaurants, the official raceway caterer, which invites local nonprofit groups to operate concession stands at the raceway during major event weekends. These groups include Boys & Girls Club of Vallejo, Native Sons of the Golden West, Petaluma High School Athletics, Vallejo High School, Vallejo Little League, North Bay Athletics and Woodland Star Charter School. Levy gives back a portion of sales to support those nonprofits.
Collectively, these organizations received a total of $65,782 for their work throughout the raceway’s 2013 major-event season.
Summit State Bank
Provides 5 percent of after-tax net profit to 165 groups
Summit State Bank is a leader in Sonoma County when it comes to offering nonprofit and philanthropic support. The institution donates 5 percent of its net profit after taxes, totaling over $215,000, engages in a robust volunteer effort and offers many programs that allow for intangible forms of nonprofit assistance.
“Through our Nonprofit Partner Donation Program, which provides a guaranteed annual donation to our nonprofit customers, we provided more than $170,000 in 2013 to 130 nonprofits, in addition to other community giving,” said Tom Duryea, president and chief executive officer. “This program has grown from eight nonprofit customers in 2009 to where we are today five years later. In addition to our service-oriented banking experience, nonprofits choose to bank with us because of the donation and partnership benefits we provide, as well as because of our overall dedication to community philanthropic support. It’s an important part of our culture.”
In addition to annual donations, Summit partners with many of its nonprofit customers to further their causes, such as stuffing bank statements with promotional materials, featuring displays in its branches and highlighting these organizations in its own advertising.
As a community bank, Summit strives to have a strong presence in the community.
“Philanthropy is a key component of what we call our ‘Summit Way,’” said Elaina Hunt, vice president of marketing and community relations. “We offer a Summit Day of Service giving employees a paid workday off to volunteer for organizations of their choice. In 2013, employees dedicated more than 2,000 community-service hours.”
Day of Service volunteer efforts have benefited 50 organizations so far. Employees assist a variety of different community organizations, such as Food for Thought’s Dining Out for Life event, Catholic Charities’ Home Alone Program for the elderly and Rebuilding Together.
In 2012, Summit helped Elsie Allen High School’s Drama Department raise $70,000 to send students to compete in a prestigious drama competition in Edinburgh, Scotland, an experience the students would never have had without meeting this fundraising goal. In addition to a donation, Summit offered other types of support, such as sponsoring a fundraising performance at the Wells Fargo Center.
Summit organized an “It’s a Wonderful Life in Sonoma County” giving program during the holidays via heart-shaped gifting ornaments on Christmas trees in every branch and by selling small bells for $1 each to buy gifts for underserved community members through the county’s Secret Santa Program. After just a few weeks of selling bells, $6,000 was applied toward unfulfilled secret Santa letters.
“We support our employees to advocate for causes that matter the most to them through our Summit Employee Sponsorship Program,” said Mr. Duryea. “Each employee gets $125 a year to go the organization of their choice. At Summit, we believe in our charter, ‘To Do for the Greater Good of the Community.’”
Mr. Duryea’s personal passion is helping abused and neglected children. He also serves on the board of the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation.
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