Editorials ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


The future of community collaboration

Posted on April 2, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

When the Portrait of Sonoma County report was published in 2014, it presented an unvarnished analysis of the dire circumstances which many of our Valley’s residents endure. The areas in which people were underserved included housing, food, access to health care, and mental health care. Since that study, the shortfall has been greatly exacerbated by the wildfires of 2017 and 2019 and the COVID pandemic. 

The comprehensive report analyzed what services, both county and nonprofit, were available for those in need. The report highlighted the difficulty for Valley residents to access many of the county services offered in Santa Rosa. 

The professional women who had collaborated with the county to prepare the report undertook to present it, again and again, all over the Valley – at the Grange, La Luz, the Community Center, other venues. Nonprofits were acknowledged for their substantial efforts to meet certain needs. These include of course youth services, provided by the Boys and Girls Clubs and the then Teen Center; health services by Sonoma Community Health Center; food from FISH and Meals on Wheel; Sonoma Overnight Support (S.O.S.) assisting the unhoused; La Luz serving the Latino community; and many others. 

The drafters of the report underlined, however, that the nonprofits, working separately as individual organizations, were not meeting the cumulative need. Despite best efforts, many clients remained unserved. Since then, two  notable new nonprofits have begun to fill gaps: the all-volunteer Food for All/Comida para Todos and R.I.S.K. (Resources, Information, Support, and Knowledge), an all-volunteer group created by concerned parents to offer mental health guidance to other parents; and S.O.S. has refocused its mission to major food to the Valley’s food insecure.. Meanwhile, groups like Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, Impact100  and the newer Catalyst Fund respond to current challenges by expanding their grant programs to meet emergent needs.

In Portrait, the drafters proposed a visionary “meta” organization – and this predates Facebook’s name change – something bigger whose sum would be greater than the total of individual efforts.

The Sonoma Collaborative, formerly Sustainable Sonoma, has been making an attempt at that, on a more ambitious level. The premise of this group, sponsored by the Sonoma Ecology Center, is perhaps too idealistic – trying to bring together business, government, and nonprofits to reach consensus on a common goal and how to collaborate to achieve it. The goal, identified after extensive community outreach, is housing. We certainly hope for this effort to be successful.

Recently, a new example of visionary collaboration was seen in a forum, “Listening to Our Community: Mental Health Resources for Youth, Teens, Young Adults, and Families.” This event is the start of a true collaborative effort for a grander outcome. 

Sponsored by R.I.S.K. and Hanna Institute, the three-hour forum focused on the dearth of youth mental health services in the Valley. Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, Food for All /Comida Para Todos, Youth and Family Services of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Unified School District, Sonoma County Mental Health Board, Sonoma Valley Hospital, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, and the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance all participated. The information from the whole community gathered there will guide these organizations as they work toward their common goal of developing mental health resources, collaborations, and programs in our Valley.  

We hope very much that their efforts bear fruit. 


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA