Find out how you can help your community at Sebastopol’s first Community Needs Summit

By Laura Hagar Rush, Townsy Media, May 11, 2021

sebastopol community needs summit

The Community Needs Summit, scheduled for Wednesday, May 12, in Sebastopol, is shaping up to be a real rumble in the jungle. Just about everyone who is anyone in Sebastopol’s wide circle of service clubs and non-profits is on one of the panels or scheduled to be the audience.

Want to know what’s happening in the world of Sebastopol nonprofits and service clubs—who’s doing what, who needs what, and how to get involved? Then you need to be there too.

The significance of the summit

The Community Needs Summit was organized by Comission, the city of Sebastopol’s community vitality consultant, working with members of the new Service Organization Council, a group of local nonprofits, service organizations and churches, who have been meeting regularly to discuss how they can work together to raise more funds and meet the community’s growing needs more efficiently.

This group includes The Rotary Club of Sebastopol, The Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise, the Active 20-30 Club of Sebastopol, the Sebastopol Grange, the Kiwanis Club of Sebastopol, the Masons, the Community Church of Sebastopol, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, St. Stephen’s Episcopal and Soroptimist International of West Sonoma County.

Traditionally, these groups have worked in isolation, raising their own funds, pursuing their own projects. The summit marks the first time all of them have come together publicly to discuss what they offer, who they serve, and what they need in terms of funding and volunteers.

“We have put a lot of effort into bringing our service clubs, non-profits and other stakeholders in Sebastopol together for this summit,” said Mayor Una Glass, who is one of the emcees. “The Summit will provide a venue where Sebastopol can exchange information and ideas about re-engaging our community with itself as we emerge from an incredibly difficult year of COVID.”

Councilmember Diana Rich, another one of the event’s emcees, sees the summit as particularly important at this particular historical moment.

“This summit comes at a pivotal point,” she said. “This last year—more than a year really—has been such a challenging time. People are feeling a sense of isolation, a lack of a sense of community and belonging. With the summit, we have an opportunity for all of these organizations that work so hard to serve the community to come together, share the efforts that they’ve been engaged in, and also say to the community at large, ‘This is what we need.’ It also provides individuals an opportunity to be able to answer the question they’ve been asking themselves for months, which is ‘Geez, I’d like to get out there and help out in some way. What can I do?”

Schedule of events

The Community Needs Summit runs from 4 to 7:30 pm. Mayor Una Glass will kick off the summit with opening remarks, Hal Kwalwasser of the Rotary Club will give an overview of the event, and Vice Mayor Sarah Glade Gurney will give the closing remarks.

The centerpiece of the event is made up of four panels: Food and Housing, Mental Health and Schools, Environment and Community, and Community Enrichment.

Food and Housing. The first panel, which starts at 4:25 p.m., deals with the fundamental needs of food and housing and features West County Community Services Executive Director Tim Miller; Sonoma Applied Village Services President Adrienne Lauby; Food For Thought Executive Director Ron Karp; Arthur George from West County Homeless Advocates; and Herman J. Hernandez of Los Cien, a Latino leadership organization. This panel will be facilitated by Cathryn Couch of the Ceres Community Project and Laura Shafer of the Sebastopol Grange.

Mental Health and Schools. The second panel, which starts at 5:20 p.m. will discuss mental health and schools. It features Analy High School Principal Shauna Ferdinandson; Brooke Ransom-Burr from Social Advocates for Youth; Elizabeth Smith from Sonoma County PACEs; Superintendent David Rose of the Gravenstein School District; and Superintendent Renee Semik from the Forestville School District. This panel will be facilitated by Hal Kwalwasser of the Rotary Club of Sebastopol and David Mark-Raymond of Sebastopol Sunrise Rotary.

Environment and Community. The third panel, which starts at at 6:15 p.m. focuses on the environment and features Sunny Galbraith of the City of Sebastopol Zero Waste Committee; Ariel Majorana, Russian Riverkeeper’s environmental justice outreach specialist; and Dr. Wendy Trowbridge from the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation. This panel will be facilitated by Planning Director Evert Fernandez and Woody Hastings of the city’s Climate Action Committee.

Community Enrichment. The last panel of the summit, starts at 6:50 p.m., and features representatives from local arts and culture organizations, including Sebastopol Senior Center Executive Director Katie Davis; Teresa Ramondo from the Western Sonoma County Historical Society; Creative Director Catherine Devriese of Sebastopol Center for the Arts; and Sebastopol Community Cultural Center Vice President Philena Chantha. This panel will be facilitated by Jim Corbett of the Mr. Music Foundation and Meg Mizutani of Sebastopol World Friends.


To register for the summit, which is free, click HERE.  Once you register, you’ll be sent a Zoom link for the event.