Locals Who Make a Difference
The Locals Who Make a Difference Recognition Program was created to acknowledge and thank members of the Sebastopol community for their contributions in helping to make Sebastopol a better place to live. The initial Locals Who Make A Difference program was approved by city council early in 2018. Since then, there have been eleven outstanding local citizens that have been awarded and identified as outstanding contributors to our Sebastopol community by city council proclamation and street banner recognition. The program is currently on hiatus and is not accepting new nominations.
James Pacatte February 1, 2022
James Pacatte– Building Community
“In short, Jim Pacatte is the ‘go to’ guy if a nonprofit or community group needs help with a project for the betterment of Sebastopol.”
-Nominator Michael McGlothlin of Sebastopol Locals Who Make a Difference Honoree James Pacatte
James Pacatte, who celebrated his 80th birthday in January of this year, likes to say, “I do what I can, when I can.” Those “can-do’s” are many. If there’s a community project that needs construction and contracting skills, it’s a good bet that Jim has had a hand in it. He’s currently overseeing the remodel of the kitchen at the Sebastopol Senior Center—a major undertaking. As part of the Rotary Noon Club, he’s helped out with the landscaping at the library and post office and has been involved with Helping Other People Day since its inception. The program is run by the Sebastopol Area Senior Center and helps seniors with small home improvement projects that they cannot do themselves. He installed the benches at the Sebastopol Library and helped to create the Peace Garden at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. He’s participated in Rebuilding Together Sebastopol, the local chapter of a national non-profit that assists neighbors in need with necessary home safety repairs including plumbing, electrical work, home modifications, and other improvements, for the past 8 years. He led the team that undertook post-flood repairs at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center and has worked on the new playground and Garzot Building at Libby Park.
Born in Greenville, Illinois, Jim moved to San Francisco while a teen. After a stint in the Army, he returned to the Bay Area and the construction industry and met his future wife and native San Franciscan Rosemarie while attending night school in South San Francisco.
The Pacattes discovered Sebastopol when scoping out a location to build a retirement home for Rosemarie’s parents. Once the home was complete, the couple relocated to Sebastopol with their three children, founded their construction company in Sonoma County, and began work on their own home here in 1980.
The Pacattes have three children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. After handing over the reins of the construction company to the next generation about 14 years ago, Jim has been even more active in the community. Son Doug, daughter Danielle, and Danielle’s husband Jimmie are now at the helm of the construction business. Daughter Dawn didn’t stray far from her family roots—she runs a landscaping business in Windsor. The Pacattes are extremely proud of their children and grandchildren.
Jim said upon being named a Local Who Makes a Difference, “I enjoy being helpful and keeping active. I like and respect the city of Sebastopol and am proud to be part of the community and help in any way that I can.”
Micah & Michelle Sawyer October 1, 2021
Micah and Michelle Sawyer are active members of the Sebastopol community who volunteer for many different organizations within Sebastopol and Sonoma County.
Micah was born in Sausalito and lived in Muir Beach and San Francisco before his family moved to Sebastopol when he was 14. Michelle is a Marin County native who was born in Petaluma and grew up in her great grandfather’s house in Tomales which she owns today. Michelle grew up as a 4-H and FFA member and giving back was instilled in her at a very young age. Micah has been active in any organization that his family partakes in and has volunteered countless hours helping all around.
Together Micah and Michelle have a blended family of four children who all graduated from high school in Sebastopol. Micah is the father to his late son Micah Hamlow-Sawyer who passed away June 21, 2019, at the age of 22 and his daughter Kody Hamlow-Sawyer, 21. Michelle’s daughters are Gianna Pendleton, 25 and Missy Pendleton, 21. Micah and his father Ken Sawyer have been partners in their construction business, Sawyer Construction, here in Sebastopol for 32 years. Michelle joined the business in 2014 as the Accounting and Business Manager.
Micah has been a big supporter of the sports programs in Sebastopol and was a member of the committee that helped raise funding for the new field at Analy High School. Michelle was a founding member of the Sebastopol Ag Boosters that supports the Sebastopol FFA and has remained an active board member well after her kids graduated. This past year she was presented with the Honorary Chapter FFA Degree which is given out to a select few who have rendered outstanding service. Michelle continues to lead the Gold Ridge 4-H club and serves as a project leader. Micah and Michelle are huge supporters of the Junior Livestock auction at the Sonoma County Fair and help purchase animals. Each year you will find them at the annual 4-H Chicken-que event volunteering. A few years ago, Missy suffered a life-threatening injury, the community came in groves to help the family out with expenses and set up fundraisers. As a way to give back, the family makes sure to help out any way they can. Michelle didn’t think twice when Carson Pforsich, Missy’s classmate, was injured. The family assisted with getting donations and helped with the silent auction.
Ever since the 2015 fire in Lake County, Michelle and Micah have been helping with rescuing livestock, transporting donated supplies, tending to animals displaced by the fires, and helping feed first responders. They are currently involved with Sonoma Community Animal Response Team that works in collaboration with local agencies to aid in animal evacuation, transport, sheltering and re-unification during and immediately after an emergency, accident, or disaster.
Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, Micah shut his business down as he did not feel that it was “essential” when nurses and front-line essential workers were unable to protect themselves because of the shortage of PPE. He and Michelle devoted themselves to making masks and donating them to hospice nurses. Once supplies started becoming available to the nurses, they continued making masks for anyone who needed them. In addition, hand sanitizer was hard to get so Micah started distilling alcohol to 190 proof and adding lavender-infused aloe to make “Sawyer Sanitizer” that he gave away. He sent many masks and gallon jugs of sanitizer to the Navajo Nation in Arizona because they were in desperate need of supplies. Micah purchased a 3D printer and began making 3D masks and mask straps that nurses picked up and distributed to their coworkers. The Press Democrat heard about their good deeds and posted an article informing others where they could get free masks. They worked through the night at times to keep up with the demand. Over the past year they estimate they made over 700 cloth masks, about 200 mask straps, and sent out countless gallons of sanitizer. Because of COVID, the Class of 2020 graduating classes of Analy, El Molino and Laguna were stripped of so many activities and the community thought lawn signs for each graduate might be a nice gesture. Sawyer Construction helped sponsor the lawn signs for the Laguna students.
Micah lost his 22-year-old son (Micah Jr) June 21, 2019, to a Fentanyl overdose and prior to his passing, for a time he was homeless. Micah and Michelle have made helping the homeless a priority. They purchase and distribute warm clothing items and food to homeless encampments during the cold, wet months. In honor of Micah’s son and the huge bear hugs that he gave everyone, the couple started a nonprofit organization called “Micah’s Hugs” https://www.micahshugs.org/. The mission of the nonprofit is to educate youth and parents on the dangers of drugs. Additionally, they work to bring awareness of the disease in hopes of breaking the stigma so those struggling might be more apt to get help. Another segment of their mission is to help those who are struggling with addiction. During the holidays they raised money for the Micah Hamlow-Sawyer Memorial Scholarship fund for sober living, they granted 17 people scholarships for 6 weeks in a sober living environment through Pura Vida Recovery Services. https://www.pvrecovery.com/memorial-scholarships. In October 2021 Micah’s Hugs is hosting a virtual “Run for Hugs” event and all money raised from this event will go towards the detox center at Pura Vida.
Micah has currently been taking flying lessons and is working on getting his license. Micah and Michelle have recently completed the pilot ground school so they can enjoy flying together. Both enjoy outdoor adventurous activities, boating, hiking, biking, and snorkeling. Micah enjoys free diving and scuba diving in the ocean and Michelle has been training for Spartan races and runs the roads of west Sebastopol regularly as part of her training.
Hunter Valencia May 1, 2021
Hunter Valencia is a 17-year-old Analy High School junior and recent transplant to Sebastopol who believes that making the world a better place begins at home. His passion for education, dedication to community, and interest in making a positive impact has led him to being recognized as a Sebastopol “Local Who Makes a Difference.” Hunter moved to Sebastopol with his family in 2019 with a history of participation in community service and student government already firmly established.
Community Service: Hunter is no stranger to community service. He has been active in giving back since he was a toddler attending events with his mom. When Hunter was seven, he decided that he wanted to grow out his hair and donate it to make wigs for people with cancer. He had just started at a new school and the students began to tease him. Rather than being upset by the situation, he saw it as an opportunity raise awareness among his classmates. He invited Relay for Life to come to his school, and together they held a presentation for the entire school. When Hunter was eleven, he became a Certified Children’s Yoga teacher and has volunteered time teaching children yoga. Hunter has enjoyed volunteering for Soroptimist, Relay for Life, Bowling for Bobbies-a pink October event, Girls on the Run, Walk to End Alzhiemers, Salvation Army Kettle Bell ringing, Out of the Darkness-Suicide Awareness 5k, and many others.
Hunter volunteers for the Peacetown Family Village. During the 2020 Virtual Peacetown Summer Concert Series he was featured in two videos and spoke about how youth engagement benefits mental health, self-esteem and resilience while promoting peace, positive youth experiences, positive role models, and development of decision-making skills. “It is important to engage our youth because they will be the ones carrying on the torch,” said Hunter in one of the interviews.
As a result of the pandemic sidelining in-person community Easter Egg Hunts in 2020 and 2021, Hunter took part in a collaborative community effort to ensure local families still had something fun to look forward to while using the pandemic safety measures. He helped to fill 6,000 plastic Easter Eggs and helped to assemble 500 Easter Egg Hunt To-Go bags. He has helped put together and distribute 3,500 Peace Bags in another Peacetown project that provided bags to families every week during what would have been the 13-week summer concert series. The bags contained items that promoted peace and positive childhood experiences.
Student Government: Hunter has served in student government since the 4th grade. His first task in his new hometown was to run for freshman class president. He has since served as ASB vice president and is currently Junior Class president. In his sophomore year Hunter was asked to serve as student representative to the West County School District. During that time, he successfully lobbied for a student representative for Laguna High School to ensure that they had a voice at the table. He also picketed with teachers for more equitable pay and was constantly vocal at meetings, even if it meant going against the board. In his junior year he has been focused on the recent consolidation of Analy and El Molino High Schools. Hunter wants unity between the two merging schools, and through a student-led unity movement has helped to gather over 200 survey results about consolidation.
DeMolay: From the age of twelve, Hunter has been a part of Demolay International, a fraternal organization for young men dedicated to preparing them to lead successful, happy, and productive lives by developing civic awareness, personal responsibility, and leadership skills. Hunter currently serves as the Redwood Empire Divisional Representative and has served as past Master Councilor of his local chapter. What he loves most about this club is that it is deeply involved with the community. Through his local chapter, Hunter has volunteered at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, Civil War Days in Duncan Mills, and Peacetown events.
Hunter lives with his mother Elizabeth Smith, his stepfather Teran, his little sister Lucy, and his dog Penny Lane. When he isn’t volunteering, studying or helping to expand and advance the Analy Speech and Debate Team (he and his debate partner are currently ranked 73rd in the nation and will be competing in the state championships in late April), Hunter enjoys jamming on his drums, hanging out with friends, and trying out spicy foods. Hunter would like to attend Stanford Law School, and one day get into politics. Hunter hopes that his recognition as a Sebastopol Local who Makes a Difference inspires other young people to get involved in their community. He feels that it is important for his peers to participate in meaningful activities where others expect them to show up, where they feel valued and helpful, and where they are supported to achieve something bigger than themselves to help make our world a better place.
Elizabeth Smith January 1, 2021
A recent transplant to Sebastopol, Elizabeth Smith has fully immersed herself in community service while also running her own humanitarian business and raising two children together with husband Teran, a Sonoma County native.
Elizabeth is an author, public speaker and advocate for suicide awareness and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. She is the founder of a program that she describes as focusing on small but significant changes to build strong and healthy, emotionally connected children, families, and community to ensure optimal outcomes for children and their families to help prevent, treat, and heal trauma. A former longtime children’s yoga trainer, she continues to teach children and families tools to self-regulate, practice mindfulness, and to promote physical and emotional wellness on a developmentally appropriate level for children.
Elizabeth serves on the Sebastopol Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees and is a parent leader for Parent Voices Sonoma, a grass-roots group that advocates for affordable, accessible, quality childcare in Sonoma County and throughout the State of California. She is on the board of Peacetown, and founded the Peacetown Family Village. She also re-started and expanded a local chapter of Soroptimist International and serves as its chapter president. Elizabeth has recently accepted a volunteer position as the Community Manager for Sonoma County ACEs Connection.
Elizabeth has a talent for envisioning the positive outcomes that she wants to see and doing the necessary work to bring them to reality.
Making the move: Elizabeth first experienced Sonoma County several years ago on a visit to see her husband’s hometown. She says that she instantly felt at home and connected to the Sebastopol community. Both she and Teran were successfully self-employed in Sutter County, yet her heart felt a calling to Sebastopol. The couple, with children Hunter and Lucy and dog Penny Lane, took a leap of faith and made the move in 2018.
Peacetown: Shortly after moving to Sebastopol, an evening at a Peacetown Summer Concert in 2018 introduced Elizabeth to the beloved annual community event series.
“I could not believe that I live in a town where peace is celebrated by the community in such a groovy way, said Elizabeth. “I turned to my husband and told him I would for sure be a part of Peacetown one day.”
It didn’t take long for that promise to take shape. Elizabeth joined the board, and in 2019 founded the Peacetown Family Village. Bordered by peace flags that Elizabeth places herself, the village is a place for families to play, make positive social connections, and learn about local resources while enjoying the free weekly concerts. With the cancellation of the 2020 concert series due to pandemic safety measures, Elizabeth developed a new signature program called Peace Bags that provides families access to local resources, connection to their community, promotes family engagement, cultivates peace, and provides some fun. The concept has spread to Los Angeles County where community members there have replicated and are now applying for funding to continue this idea due to its success.
Soroptimist: One service club that is near and dear to Elizabeth’s heart is Soroptimist International. The global volunteer organization provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment as well as empowering them to be the best they can be. Active in her hometown club, she noticed there was not a Sebastopol club. She discovered that there was a club that folded in the 90’s and knew she had to bring it back. Soroptimist International of West Sonoma County was founded August of 2019. Elizabeth served as the chapter’s founding president and is its current president. She has enjoyed learning about prior club projects such as baking crisps for fundraisers during the Apple Blossom Festival and building a gazebo in Ragle Park displaying plaques of members who had passed away. The gazebo is being revamped by the current club, and members who have since passed will have their plaque placed into the gazebo. Soroptimist’s current signature program is Live Your Dream, which offers scholarships to women heads of household with dependents attending a school to further their education. The club will award their second scholarship to a local woman in 2021.
ACES: Another project that Elizabeth volunteers with is the Sonoma County ACEs Connection, which brings the community together to prevent, heal, and treat Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) while promoting resilience. The Sonoma County group is one of many throughout California and the United States that work to serve as a buffer to Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic stress.
Elizabeth enjoys being social and bringing people together, listening and dancing to live music, eating all the delicious fresh produce grown locally, savoring the wonderful wine this county provides, being outside in nature– especially at the beach, and sharing community service with her children so they know the value in investing in their communities.
Linda & Joe Maloney September 1, 2020
Linda and Joe Maloney– supporting their community with acts of kindness and generosity, large and small
Volunteerism and service to community have been defining values for the Maloney family for decades. Nominators pointed to the Maloneys’ longstanding contributions to local projects, including donating a lot on Johnson Street and helping to build two Habitat for Humanity homes there, sponsoring the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center’s Talent Show, and being instrumental in sports field improvements at Analy High School, ultimately leading to a completely upgraded facility. Over the years, Joe could be found on the football field, not only as a volunteer coach, but also making repairs to the football field and stands with materials that he had supplied. Most recently the Maloneys have supported the West County Chapter of the Construction Corps program, which will be training high school seniors in the construction trades at Analy High School.
Joe and Linda Maloney have lived in Sebastopol for over thirty years. They’ve raised four sons: Parker (now married to wife Rachel), Nicholas (now married to wife Ana), Joseph, and Cooper in this small town. For years, Maloney Construction was their livelihood as Joe was a general contractor. In the late ’90s, the family moved onto a Gravenstein apple ranch and have been farming apples and pinot noir grapes ever since. They’ve also had the opportunity to support the local 4H chapters while raising livestock.
Given their faith in God and the support by local churches, the Maloneys understood the prohibitive cost of housing and worked closely with the City of Sebastopol to build the first two Habitat for Humanity homes in the town.
Joe’s attention shifted from a family-owned business to involvement with youth and he became a science and woodshop teacher at Brookhaven School and Analy and Laguna High Schools. While teaching, his passion for sports was exhibited as he coached hundreds of athletes in soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and rugby.
Joe and Linda look for opportunities to hire local youth on the family farm and small construction projects with the hope to build skills for their future employment. Linda was instrumental in the athletic field renovations at Analy High School. She was a director in an early childcare program and currently is a full-time faculty member at Santa Rosa Junior College while pursuing her passion for graduate work in the field of Infant Mental Health.
The Maloneys have been grafted into this community, much like an apple tree. In their free time, they deliver fresh-pressed Gravenstein apple juice to friends, love to swim and fish on the coast, and can be found rafting down wild California rivers.
Craig & Pat Boblitt January 1, 2020
The Boblitts’ commitment to their community reflect who they are as individuals: Pat through her devotion to children and families, while Craig has focused his efforts on the community at large through his business savvy and artistic perspective.
While they grew up in the Bay Area, both Craig & Pat Boblitt were always drawn towards Sonoma County.
From a young age, Craig would vacation at Rio Nido on the Russian River in the 1950’s and 60’s and used to ponder the thought of one day moving to Sonoma County; he has fond memories of driving through Sebastopol and enjoying a glass of the area’s famous ice-cold apple cider.
Pat’s connection to Sonoma County goes back to the early 1900’s. In those days subscribers of the Oakland Tribune were granted a free lot in Cazadero with their subscription. Her maternal grandfather took advantage of one of the lots. The family built cabins near Murphy’s Beach where Pat spent many happy childhood summers.
Craig’s efforts in helping to make the city a better place have taken many forms, but Sebastopol Senior Center Executive Director Linda Civitello calls out Craig’s special dedication to the organization.
“The senior center might not have survived without the support of dedicated locals like Craig,” said Civitello. “He stepped up when asked to join the Board at a time when the Senior Center was literally broke; he accepted the challenge and has helped turn things around.” She also notes that Craig is a hands-on board member. He has chaired benefits, organized barbecues, and arranged for free space for the Holiday Pop-Up Store for four years. Additionally, he attends meeting with funders and the City Council on behalf of the Senior Center and assists at every open house, potluck and dance.
Craig began volunteering in earnest upon his retirement from Epic Plastics in 2011, a family-owned business that Craig took the helm of while still in college after the sudden and unexpected death of his father. In addition to being on the board of the Sebastopol Senior Center, Craig has also served on the Sebastopol Streetscape Committee, Sebastopol Design Review Board, Sebastopol Art Commission, Sebastopol General Plan Update Committee and has helped out with Analy Project Graduation.
Pat began volunteering at the Gravenstein School District when the Boblitts’ two sons were in elementary school. She has served on the Analy Education Foundation board, spent countless hours helping out with Analy High School’s Project Graduation, and dove into writing a tax measure to support the Gravenstein School District. In recognition of her dedication to early childhood education, Pat was named Sonoma County Community Childcare Council’s (4C’s) Early Childhood Champion of 2019.
For the past 15 years, Pat has served as an early childhood special education consultant for various Sonoma County pre-schools as a part of the Early Learning Institute (ELI). She leads playgroups, teaches and co directs the ELI community preschool, consults with the Consultation Project in local preschools, and presents numerous workshops focused on supporting young children with special needs.
Pat began her profession at the Morgan Autism Center in Palo Alto. After moving to Sonoma County in 1979, she directed the Full Inclusion grant at 4Cs, supporting children with developmental differences in community preschools. She then went on to teach a SCOE preschool special day class, first at Oak Grove elementary school and then her class was co located with Happy Days preschool in Sebastopol.
Today, the Boblitts are acknowledged for being major supporters of the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, the Sebastopol Area Senior Center, and Peacetown.
Craig and Pat met in college while attending San Jose State University and moved to Sonoma County in 1979. For the past 40 years the Boblitts have lived in a passive solar house that Craig built on Sparkes Road, where they raised two sons and enjoy spending time with their three grandchildren.
Greg Jacobs September 4, 2019
Retired Sonoma County District Attorney Greg Jacobs is being recognized as Sebastopol’s latest “Local Who Makes a Difference,” primarily for his work heading up the Sebastopol Rotary Learn to Swim program at Ives Pool for the past 14 years. With the help of many volunteers, the program has trained more than 11,500 local second graders in water safety over the years.
But Greg has a long history of volunteering in the community, always with some connection to improving the lives of children and young people. He’s in Rotary’s Overcoming Obstacles program which awards scholarships to high school students who’ve overcome adversity.
He also mentors students at Roseland University Prep in Santa Rosa and has served on the boards of the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center and the Sebastopol Parks and Recreation Commission.
For a man who says that he’s never had a “master plan” for his life, looking back, it’s easy to see the many factors that came together to propel Greg to become a mentor and advocate for young people.
Born and raised in Sebastopol, Greg saw first-hand the value of mentorship in his own life. His parents and their friends, Rotarians, as is Greg, served as strong role models. They were leaders in the community who highly valued and contributed to public service. His father was the mayor of Sebastopol in the 60’s and served on the board of the Santa Rosa Junior College. Later, as an Analy High graduate and avid swimmer and coach of the Sebastopol Sea Serpents, Greg credits his own swim coach, Norm Stupfel, with support and mentorship, even writing letters to Stanford University on his behalf.
Greg graduated from with honors and a B.A. in English from Stanford and went on to Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. After graduation, he returned to Sebastopol upon the advice of a family friend, and through a series of what he calls “happenstance,” eventually made his way to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
In his 35-year role in DA’s office he felt deep concern for children who were victims of crimes and was encouraged when he saw positive outcomes. “I couldn’t win every case or solve every problem, but I felt that it was important to not turn away from the things that we CAN do to improve a bad situation.”
One of these cases was the highly visible trial of the murderer and kidnapper of 12-year-old Petaluma resident Polly Klaas for whom Greg was successful in obtaining a guilty conviction in 1996. In a recent profile in Sonoma West Times & News, Greg says, “I think that case made me even more concerned about kids,” Jacobs said. “You get that way after you have your own kids, of course, but this case had such a profound effect on so many people, especially children, and brought up so many issues of child safety.”
While in the DA’s office he took on the job to chair the Sonoma County Child Death Review Team, a state-mandated task force that investigates deaths of children. He noted that no one was eager to serve in the position, but he felt that he could bring his skills to bear in assembling an effective team. He also reflected back on his philosophy of being committed to effect positive change where he could. While on the task force he learned that the most common cause of unintentional injury-related death in young children is drowning. “We [the task force] addressed the drowning issue by getting the county to put up more warning signs at the ocean and river and also got a county-wide swim safety program,” he said.
Despite some of the serious issues and long trials that often confronted Greg in the DA’s office, he learned that it was important to get away from the trial itself. Along with the support of his family, Greg’s appreciation for the lighter side of life has helped him remain positive. “I love laughter, comedy, and humor. Even as a child, I got into trouble for making smart remarks.”
His retirement in 2008 has allowed him more time not only to devote to volunteerism, but to pursue his other interests and hobbies. He plays the trumpet in several local bands, has recently re-discovered the joy of fly-fishing, and enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking and birding with his wife of over 40 years, Kathi.
Pat Schoch May 1, 2019
“Pat is filled with a positive energy, integrity and the genuine support she gives everyone, not only at SCA [Sebastopol Center for the Arts], but the town of Sebastopol, and Sonoma County as well.”
–Nominator Matthew Groff, of Sebastopol Locals Who Makes a Difference Honoree Pat Schoch
If you’ve been to the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, West County Historical Society, the Interfaith Church Pantry, or the Santa Rosa Sutter Hospice Thrift Store, you’ll probably recognize Pat Schoch. She’s the friendly face that you’ll see volunteering behind the desk or counter.
Or, if you’ve taken a Coastwalk hike, watched a Christian Women’s Softball League game or are a member of the congregation of the Sebastopol Methodist Church, your paths have very likely crossed.
Pat has been a resident of Sebastopol for well over 50 years and has been volunteering for a number of organizations in the area for most of those years; from providing respite for caregivers through Home Hospice, to selling scrip to fundraise for her church every Sunday, to helping prepare a meal for Coastwalk hikers, to assisting clients, customers and visitors at the Church Pantry, Thrift Store, Historical Society and Center for the Arts.
Pat and her husband Paul have four children and seven grandchildren, all of whom live close enough to head home for holiday gatherings and other celebrations. An Indiana native, Pat and Paul met at a Methodist Church social in Sacramento where she was stationed as an Air Force nurse and he worked for the highway department. After they married, Paul’s work as a Civil Engineer brought them to Sebastopol in 1962 when Pat was pregnant with the couple’s first child. The Schoches moved two more times to accommodate their growing family, but always stayed in Sebastopol. Once the children were grown and out on their own, Pat put her experience and talents to work by volunteering.
Pat has been involved with the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in one way or another since its first location in the basement of the Methodist Church. She was introduced to the group when her daughter participated in a musical performance there and Pat’s love of music prompted her to eventually join the SCA’s music committee. She continued to volunteer as the Center moved from the church to the building across the street from the Police Department, then to Depot Street, and finally to its home at the Veteran’s Hall, where she thought it would be fun to learn more about the visual arts and now helps visitors at the front desk.
“I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I do love being around art,” says Pat. One of her creative outlets is pruning and caring for the 80 apple trees on the property at the Schoch home south of town. Many of the trees are Gravensteins, including some that she estimates may be 100 years or older… and still bear fruit. During harvest season, Pat cuts back on some of her other endeavors to pick and dry fruit, press juice, and share the bounty of the orchard with neighbors and friends, some of whom drive from far afield.
A lifelong lover of outdoor activities, Pat plays tennis when the weather is cooperative and pitches (in more ways than one) for the Christian Women’s Softball League—she notes that they are on the lookout for some new recruits. She and Paul also enjoy hiking and biking throughout beautiful Sonoma County and traveling the world, including their favorite trip hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and taking over thirty Road Scholar (Elderhostel) trips.
Roger and Linda Collins January 1, 2019
Immediately after the 9-11 attacks on our country, Roger Collins was inspired to do something good in this world. He and his wife, Linda, came up with a plan to host a Thanksgiving dinner in Sebastopol and invite anyone who needed a meal, or company to enjoy it with. What started out 18 years ago as a handful of people has now grown to more than 600 last Thanksgiving.
Roger and Linda Collins have been named “Locals Who Make a Difference” by the Sebastopol City Council.
Over the years the couple has built up a solid team of volunteers and a donation fund for purchasing ingredients. They shop sales long before Thanksgiving and gather the supplies for a lavish holiday meal. This year, with the help of volunteers, Roger smoked 48 turkeys while Linda headed up the team to make all of the traditional sides and desserts.
Roger and Linda say the highlight for them is to see the repeat guests who come every year. Some of their favorites include a couple who met at the dinner one year, got married, and now return annually to volunteer. They also enjoy meeting new people who come from all over the Bay Area and some have even been in Sonoma County on vacation, heard about this delicious dinner, and came to partake.
When not preparing this generous Thanksgiving meal, Linda works full time as the Executive Director of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. Roger, who sadly passed away on January 10, 2019, was a retired pipefitter with the Local 38 who spent a lot of his post-retirement time tinkering with his train collection, and the couple belonged to the Redwood Empire Classic Chevy Club. Roger had a 1955 Chevrolet 210, which he’d owned since he was a junior in high school.
Linda is a Sonoma County native, born in Petaluma and grew up on a ranch in Sebastopol. She still loves gardening and taking care of their many animals. Roger was from Berkeley and lived in San Francisco before moving to Sonoma County.
Meg Mizutani October 1, 2018
At the August 7 City Council Meeting, the Sebastopol City Council announced Meg Mizutani as its most recent honoree in the City’s “Locals Who Make a Difference” program, making her the second member of the Sebastopol community to receive such an honor. Meg’s nomination noted her participation in many community organizations, including Sebastopol World Friends, Cittaslow Sebastopol, the Sebastopol Educational Foundation, Sonoma County Taiko, Japanese Culture and Taiko Summer Camp, Sonoma County Matsuri Festival, and Park Side-Pine Crest and Brookhaven schools, among others. She has also been named Sebastopol Union School District Volunteer for the Year 2009-2010 and Sebastopol Community Service to Youth Awardee 2012.
“Meg is passionate about what we identify as ‘Sebastopol Values:’ citizen diplomacy, empowerment and equality for all, community activism and volunteerism,” reads an excerpt from one nomination. “Meg has taught Taiko drumming workshops to Park Side, Reach and Hillcrest students that not only teach how to play the drums but also how to respect each other, [use] teamwork, and [play] the instrument,” reads another.
The Locals Who Make a Difference program acknowledges and thanks members of the Sebastopol community for their contributions in helping to make Sebastopol a better place to live. These members of the Sebastopol community will be recognized with banners lining Sebastopol’s Main Street and Downtown Plaza. There will be three honorees each year, with each being featured for approximately four months.
Carson Pforsich June 1, 2018
Carson Pforsich is an 18-year-old Analy High School student-athlete who suffered a traumatic spine injury in September of 2017 that left him paralyzed. The captain of the Analy football team and a fourth-generation Sebastopol resident has received immense support from his community throughout his recovery period.
Friends came in droves during his initial hospitalization at Memorial, his parents told the Press Democrat in February. Hospital visitors are normally kept at a maximum of two, but his father said, “We constantly went beyond that.”
Carson made a big impression on the staff at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where he underwent therapy during his recovery. Carson’s occupational therapist noted, “Carson faced his injury and the realities of it with more bravery than I have seen in most grown men who come through our unit. He was eager to learn new ways to do things every day and was even able to laugh and make us laugh, too.” From Carson’s physical therapist Danielle O’Neill Nekimken: “Carson brightened the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation unit during his intensive rehab stay. He often zoomed through the gym… with a big smile and genuine caring for all those around him. He brought his athleticism and strong work ethic to every challenge he encountered. He pushed to the limits… Carson is charismatic, confident, caring, and a true athlete. He was an absolute joy to work with in therapies. The staff at SCVMC know that Carson has a bright future ahead of him.”
Although the initial recovery therapy was difficult, Carson said to KTVU soon after his accident, “I was thinking about my team and they were pulling me through it, and I just want to keep fighting, get back to how I was supposed to be. I’ heard stories about people who had the same injury I have, and they made full recoveries and that just keeps my hopes up.”
During the rest of the 2017 high school football season, his teammates wore his number, 13, on their helmets to keep his determination with them during the game, and his sister symbolically wore his jersey during the coin toss for an important game.
Exceeding all expectations, Carson was able to return to school in January 2018 and is on track to graduate with his senior class at the end of May.
Carson received several nominations for the Locals Who Make a Difference Program. One nomination said, “Carson’s decision to go back to school and finish his senior year and graduate with his class shows that he is making a difference every day. He is an inspiration to not only his classmates, but to us all.” Another stated, “During a team gathering, Carson chose to focus on the team, and what they needed to do to not only win, but to play, and to cherish their time, and their brotherhood on the field. His story offers hope for the future of all of our youth.”
The City of Sebastopol is proud to recognize a courageous and determined young man like Carson as its first “Locals Who Make a Difference” honoree.