An exceptional level of commitment to community and volunteerism is part of what defines the North Bay.

For instance, last September Santa Rosa was ranked No. 1 in the state for volunteerism by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Marin County is blessed with an innovative and active Community Foundation and awards such as Spirit of Marin. In Napa, the Peter A. and Vernice H. Gasser Foundation is a leader in supporting health care, the environment and people and community. North Bay companies are at the very foundation of all of these efforts.

In response to my column last week that took its cue from the Moody Blues message of hope in their album “Our Children’s, Children’s Children,” I received an e-mail from Denise Frey, executive director and CEO of the YWCA of Sonoma County.

No matter what you think of new Speaker of the House John Boehner’s tendency to show emotion, it will be hard not to tear up at Ms. Frey’s e-mail. Here it is:

“I just read your editorial and was encouraged to hear your optimism and that of others mentioned.  I thought you’d enjoy a little story that also points to improvement.

“The YWCA got a call just before Christmas from a small business in Healdsburg. They had a check for us and asked if we could pick it up before 3 p.m. that day as they were closing for the holidays. Since I live in Healdsburg, I went myself and met the owner of this small, woman-owned business.

“When I asked her how she knew of the YWCA (something I always ask), she said that her business had experienced some tough financial times over the past year, and they had let some of their accounts payable go delinquent.

“When things started picking back up (and there’s the validation for your optimism), she contacted her vendors and made arrangements to bring her accounts current.

“One particular vendor informed her that they had already written her debt off and that instead they would like her to make a donation to her local domestic violence shelter as that is their business’s  charity of choice.

“She researched and of course found out that the YWCA is Sonoma County’s only domestic violence shelter … and made a donation of nearly $5,000 to us on Christmas Eve.

“I hope that you enjoy this story … not only because it confirms your optimism in the recovery of our economy, but because it also confirms the decency and generosity of the human spirit.”

The truth is things like this both big and small happen in the North Bay more often than we know. Thank you, Denise, for reminding us.


Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or