“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give”

Winston Churchill

In today’s society, we are blessed with various forms of philanthropy and different ways to achieve a philanthropic culture. When people hear the term philanthropy, they often assume it refers to donors of charities and non-profit organizations. While some of the world’s top philanthropists are best known for donating money to a worthy cause, philanthropy also refers to charitable acts such as donating time, effort, expertise, or other good works to help others or society as a whole.

For example, they can take part in or create an organization that helps the less fortunate or participate in any form of com-munity service that helps people in the community.

Philanthropic efforts are sometimes confused with charitable giving; however, philanthropy is not just about giving to do good. A philanthropic initiative is also about giving with a mission—with the specific intent to make a propitious change.

While Napa Valley is considered one of California’s smaller cities, it is abundant with philanthropic organizations and com-munity leaders who are dedicated to making constructive changes to the well-being of others. In this special feature, Napa Valley Life Magazine is honored to present some of these outstanding philanthropists and show our appreciation for the positive, long-term impacts their efforts bring to the community.

Profiles by: FRAN MILLER

CAROL POOLE
VICE PRESIDENT // NAPA WILDLIFE RESCUE

Carol Poole started working with Napa Wildlife Rescue when she retired nearly ten years ago from a city planning career. The first few years she fed baby birds. She then trained with another wildlife center to learn how to handle raptors, now her passion. She conducts rescues, assists with rehabilitative care, and releases healthy animals. “Napa Wildlife Rescue is the only organization in Napa County that is permitted to rescue, rehabilitate, and release wild animals back into the wild,” said Poole, a Napa resident since 1977. “We care for baby and injured adult native songbirds, raptors, and small mammals such as squirrels, opossums, raccoons, foxes, fawns, and coyotes. We usually take in about 1200 animals per year, but in 2020 we took in over 1500.” Poole counts herself as lucky to be the caretaker of a beautiful Red-tailed hawk, Maddie, and the co-trainer of a rascally raven, Odin, both educational ambassadors that visit classrooms in person and virtually. “Anyone who cares about wildlife should be familiar with our organization. Most of the animals that we care for have had some unfortunate interaction with humans – animals that are hit by cars; gardeners and tree trimmers that accidentally take down limbs with nests; babies that become orphaned when parents are trapped or killed; animals caught in bird netting or on barbed wire fencing. Some have been intentionally shot or poisoned. Wildlife is disappearing due to the changes from habitat removal and climate change. I feel like the work that Napa Wildlife Rescue does is atonement for the harm that our species does.” Poole has spent much of the past two years helping to secure a permanent home for the organization. “It’s actually been a perfect way to stay busy during Covid!” // napawildliferescue.org

CHUCK MEYER
PROPRIETOR // NAPA PALISADES SALOON & FIRST & FRANKLIN MARKETPLACE PHILANTHROPY PROJECT // FEED NAPA NOW

Rather than wallow in the restaurant industry’s pandemic-influenced dire straits, Chuck Meyer and his fellow restaurateurs and chefs took action. In creating Feed Napa Now, Meyer, proprietor of Napa Palisades Saloon and First & Franklin Marketplace, acknowledged that even though he and others in the hospitality industry were in a difficult situation, many had it worse, such as his own employees who often live paycheck to paycheck. Using Sonoma Family Meal as his model, Meyer initiated Feed Napa Now by continuing to purchase food inventory that he shared with his staff. He then partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley (which now serves as the Feed Napa Now parent non-profit) to raise funds to provide meals for those with food insecurity. With the help of restaurants such as Oenotri, Cole’s Chop House, and Ristorante Allegria, to name just a few, he organized weekly meals for delivery to Abode Homeless Shelter, Rainbow House, and Feeding it Forward. “We restaurateurs and chefs are in a unique position to help,” said Meyer, who also serves as food and beverage director for BottleRock. “We are a conduit to need. And as our group grows and changes, we seek ways to keep the effort going.” One such effort includes a partnership with local author/writer Jess Lander of The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will be distributed directly to Napa restaurant workers via Feed Napa Now. “The idea is that Feed Napa Now is now ready for any crises that may arise. Having created a mechanism and system, we are aligned, prepared, and organized to meet whatever challenge might come next. While born of the idea of helping the restaurant industry, at its heart, Feed Napa Now is about using this amazing food community to help feed people in need.” // FeedNapaNow.org

JENNY OCÓN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR // UPVALLEY FAMILY CENTERS

For more than two decades, Up Valley Family Centers (UVFC) has served as a trusted resource for residents of northern Napa Valley in providing guidance, support, and resources for the community, the home, and the individual in order that all thrive. And for the last seven of those 20+ years, Jenny Ocón has served as the organization’s executive director. She oversees a staff of 29 that in 2020 served nearly 4,000 individuals. “We are a one-stop-shop for access to the resources that people need to be well and thrive,” said Ocón who oversees four distinct programs: Family and Senior Wellness, Education, Economic Success, and Community Engagement. “We envision that through healthy relationships and networks of support, all people are safe, valued, and prepared to create the future they want for themselves, their families, and their community.” As the region’s go-to social service organization, UVFC maintains offices in Calistoga and St. Helena, serving an area from Yountville to the Lake County border. Many of its clients work in low-wage or seasonal jobs in the hospitality and agriculture sectors, or are seniors who live on fixed incomes. “UVFC creates a baseline of stability for individuals and families, and provides them opportunities to build skills and succeed in life goals,” continued Ocón, whose focus has been addressing the needs of households most impacted by the pandemic. “Our intervention services stabilize the immediate needs of upvalley households– so families can keep a roof over their heads, and keep their kids fed and warm. We are setting up these families for a stronger recovery once the pandemic is over – a just recovery that addresses the systemic inequities that left some families so vulnerable to the impact of disaster in the first place, and that helps those families build the resilience they need to better weather the next crisis.” // upvalleyfamilycenters.org

CRAIG and KATHRYN HALL
CRAIG AND KATHRYN HALL FOUNDATION

Craig and Kathryn Hall purchased their first vineyard in Napa in 1995. They now own and operate three wine brands – HALL, WALT, and BACA – as well as five tasting rooms throughout Napa and Sonoma, each adorned with selections from their modern art collection. Well respected and highly regarded members of the Valley’s wine industry, the outgoing duo is equally as committed to philanthropy as they are to producing award-winning varietals. “Our family tries to be a responsible part of the communities where we live and work,” said Kathryn, a longtime Napa resident who was raised in Mendocino County. A former United States Ambassador to Austria, she is continually beguiled by Napa Valley’s peace and beauty. “Perhaps the most important work we do is encouraging others to be involved in the community and to give back in various ways.” Via the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation, which they founded in 1977, the couple gives to and raises funds for organizations that perform needed charitable work. They encourage others to give as well via employee matching programs. “We allow and encourage our employees to use one week per year, salary paid, to work in the community with a charitable organization of their choice,” said Kathryn. “Our giving includes support for education, the arts, health, entrepreneurism, and general well-being. Keeping our focus general allows us to respond quickly to community needs and to the natural disasters that seem to come so regularly these days.” The Foundation provided generously to fire victims and those affected by COVID-19. It also partners with and supports events such as HALL’s Cabernet Cookoff and Festival Napa Valley. “We believe strongly that charitable giving helps the donors, albeit in a different way, as much as it helps the recipients, and that being a responsible member of a community means giving back.” // ckhallfoundation.org

HILARY STANTON ZUNIN
PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER // NAPA VALLEY CANDO

When Hilary Stanton Zunin passed away earlier this year, she left a community legacy more than 850 volunteers strong. As co-founder of Napa Valley CanDo, Zunin, a former Napa High School English teacher, was instrumental in bringing together friends and neighbors in her project-oriented non-profit that identifies and manages the community’s unmet needs. Zunin was known for her ability to shift seamlessly between recalling the past, being ever sincerely in the present while also anticipating the future. Her vision and ability to collaborate and to connect were integral to all that CanDo has accomplished. Founded in 2009, Napa Valley CanDo began as a small grassroots group, gaining non-profit status in 2013. Today, the organization is a powerful force for good with a stable funding base and collaborative relationships with many local service organizations. With them, CanDo works to further mutual goals of encouraging greater community involvement by easing the path from intent to action. CanDo has developed a program with four projects aimed at reducing food insecurity, intending to keep streams, river walks, and wetlands litter-free, and most recently, the creation of a volunteer arm for Napa Valley COAD to address the need for volunteers during the pandemic, including support at testing sites and food distribution to vulnerable populations. “COAD looked to CanDo for support, and Hilary became the chair of COAD’s Volunteers on Call (VOC) program for pandemic missions,” said friend Celeste Guinta. “We had a real community need, and Hilary came up with a CanDo solution.” Zunin was also instrumental in creating the Napa CanDo Give!Guide which promotes funding for nonprofits providing critical services in Napa County. “The exceptional results of last year’s Give!Guide from community donors is a tribute to Hilary and was a shot in the arm for many nonprofits so they can continue to deliver critical services,” added Guinta. “Hilary was an exemplary leader who inspired those around her. She became the heart and soul of CanDo. She was kind, passionate, and humble, a tenacious champion of community organizing, adventuresome, curious, and fearless. She was someone who could see the possible, the probable, and potential from any angle and an incredible teacher who was teaching us compassion, resilience, and tenacity until the end. She inspired and committed herself to meaningful and lasting change which has benefited the community immeasurably for many years to come.” // nvcando.org

JULIA ORR
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR // MOLLY’S ANGELS

Julia Orr moved to Napa from Los Angeles four years ago after falling in love with the region’s climate and architecture while visiting a friend. After 25 years as an entertainment executive with The Walt Disney Company, Orr was ready for both a scenery switch and a meaningful career change, one that she found with Molly’s Angels. As executive director of the senior support non-profit founded in 1999 by Molly Banz, Orr oversees nearly 100 volunteers dedicated to serving the senior community. She came on board two years ago at a time when the organization was ready to evolve and grow. “To take a program to the next level, that’s my specialty,” said Orr, a self-professed ‘champion of the underdog’ who is sensitive to society’s ageism. Orr oversees varied Molly’s Angels’ programming, such as the transportation program in which community volunteers provide rides to seniors and the ‘Hello Molly’ Care Calls reassurance program in which friendly and sometimes lifesaving phone calls are made weekly to isolated elders. “Everybody has a senior in their life or will become a senior themselves,” said Orr, who recalled a time when a Care Calls phone volunteer could not reach her phone pal, resulting in a successful call to emergency services. “Our rural community sometimes makes it hard for people to connect and to get around. And many do not have family or friends on which they can rely; it makes me lie awake at night, wondering what these seniors would do without the Molly’s Angels volunteers who fill this gap. And it goes both ways; our volunteers tell me that they get as much out of their involvement as our clients do. The personal satisfaction in knowing we are making an impact within the community is immensely gratifying.” // mollysangels.com

TALULAH and RUBY FINKELSTEIN
BEKIND NAPA

Sisters Talulah and Ruby Finkelstein initiated BeKind Napa in 2017 after a visit to New York City, where they witnessed a friend pass out small red lapel pins that simply stated, ‘Be Kind.’ “We saw the power of these pins, how they were an ice breaker, and how they put a smile on stranger’s faces,” said 11-year-old Ruby. “The pins got people to talk with one another, and we wanted to bring that same sense of friendliness and kindness back home to Napa.” The girls started organically, ordering 100 red ‘BeKind’ pins. They each wore one wherever they went and carried a stash to hand out anytime someone commented. To date, the girls have distributed 20,000 pins. And while the pin concept was and continues to be a societal game-changer, the girls began to take their kindness efforts a bit further. “We started a youth-led group called Kindness Kids that anyone can join,” said 13-year-old Talulah. “We meet regularly and brainstorm ideas for how we can help the Napa community, such as our Kindness Day walk where people make and carry messages of kindness.” The sister-led group also partners with others to hold birthday parties for homeless kids, collects backpacks and school supplies for those less fortunate, and recently held a warm coat, blanket, and sleeping bag drive for the local homeless shelter. Through their efforts, both Talulah and Ruby have become seasoned public speakers, addressing school assemblies, professional and service groups, and larger gatherings such as Napa’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. “It makes us really happy that we can be part of our community and help,” said Ruby. The girls, students at Napa’s Blue Oak School, who in their spare time partake in dance, art, and fencing, are pleased that their efforts have been replicated nationwide by friends and family. Their ultimate goal? That BeKind Napa becomes BeKind World // bekindnapa.com

JESS LANDER
FREELANCE WRITER PHILANTHROPY PROJECT // THE ESSENTIAL NAPA VALLEY COOKBOOK

A freelance wine, food, and travel writer, Napa-based Jess Lander can now add ‘cookbook author’ to her resume. The Wine Enthusiast, Wine Business Monthly, 7×7, and Napa Valley Register regular contributor had been seeking a way to help local restaurants, beyond the frequent ordering of takeout, when she learned of restaurant relief cookbooks launching in Boulder, Colorado and New York City. ‘Why not in Napa?’ she thought, believing that a cookbook from Napa’s world-renowned culinary scene might appeal nationally. The result: The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook, featuring 35+ recipes from top Napa Valley restaurants and chefs, such as Beer Can Chicken from the Bounty Hunter and Chocolate Soufflé from Michelin-starred La Toque, the proceeds of which will go directly to Napa restaurants and workers. The 100% volunteer effort provided a great distraction to Lander, who lost her home in the Glass Fire. “During the fires and the pandemic, I kept thinking about how the only consistent comfort was food from our local restaurants and how they provided a chance to get out and feel semi-normal. I wanted to do something nice for the restaurants and their employees, to return the favor.” Lander’s greatest challenge was finding a suitable non-profit partner to help receive and distribute funds; she ultimately joined forces with Feed Napa Now and its founder Chuck Meyer who helped connect her to the restaurants and chefs. “I don’t want this simply to be a coffee table book,” said Lander, who fundraised to cover printing costs and received gratis services from photographer Alexander Rubin and design studio, Design This! “I want people to actually use it, get the pages dirty, and enjoy the flavors of Napa Valley from their homes.” The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook is sold online at napavalleycookbook.com and select Napa retailers.

ELAINE JOHN
CHIEF PHILANTHROPY OFFICER // PROVIDENCE/QUEEN OF THE VALLEY MEDICAL CENTERCHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER // QUEEN OF THE VALLEY FOUNDATION

Elaine John has spent the last three decades leading foundation boards at Napa County’s two hospitals that bookend the Valley. “When I am asked what I do, and I respond regarding my role as a hospital executive responsible for fund development, the reaction is dependably consistent: most people are quite certain that I have the last job on earth they would ever want to do,” laughed John, a former English literature teacher. “Actually, it is the best job on earth as the position brings you in contact with some of the smartest, most successful and generous people on the planet.” Together, John and her board members have raised more than $160M during her career, helping to ensure that Napa local hospitals offer sophisticated medicine that incorporates state-of-the-art and often emerging technology, with an emphasis on making exceptional care accessible to all who live and work in the region.” As CEO of St. Helena Hospital Foundation, John led a capital campaign to raise funds to build the Johnson Pavilion that houses the Martin O’Neil Cancer Center. At Providence Queen of the Valley, her Foundation Board launched a campaign that helped fund the Herman Family Pavilion that includes the Marjorie Mondavi Center for Intensive Care, the Hubbard Hybrid Surgical Suite, and one of the most sophisticated clinical labs in the State. “We are so blessed to have these medical resources that would not typically be found in a community of our size,” added John, a New York Times crossword addict who moved to Napa in 1985 from England following a four-year sojourn abroad while her husband pursued studies at Oxford University. “Be assured; it is all because as a community, we have grasped the importance of and shared the responsibility for funding excellent health care. We could not do this without the extraordinary generosity of our community.” // queensfoundation.org

SENATOR BILL DODD
PUBLIC SERVANT

In addition to his career as a Napa County supervisor, state Assembly member, and now state senator representing California’s 3rd Senate District, Bill Dodd has long been an active philanthropic force in the region in which he grew up and in which he raised five children. He and his wife Mary are now the proud grandparents of 10. For 21 years, he has overseen an annual charity holiday fundraiser that has raised more than $3 million and helped to bolster nearly two dozen local nonprofits. Through the years he has also been instrumental in helping the Wolfe Family Center, Queen of the Valley Hospital and Justin-Siena High School. He is also currently an honorary board member with Collabria Care, Queen of the Valley Foundation and If Given a Chance, a nonprofit dedicated to educational opportunities and achievement for disadvantaged youth. And his efforts in helping others extend to his day job where as a senator he has introduced legislation to help enhance wildfire safety, improve public education, defend seniors and protect the environment. His interest in public service and philanthropy was fostered by his parents, who taught Dodd and his four siblings to always give back, and to try and leave a place better than when found. “As a public servant, I have seen firsthand how important our nonprofits are in supporting our community, and I’m always heartened to see people step up with their time, money and talent to help those in need,” said Sen. Dodd, a fifth-generation Californian and lifelong Napa resident, who, prior to his busy legislative career enjoyed playing golf. He looks forward to a post-COVID time when the community can once again gather at events throughout his district. Spending time with his kids and grandkids is what he and Mary most enjoy.

ALISSA ABDO
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR // ON THE MOVE

Alissa Abdo once benefitted from the organization for which she now serves as executive director. “I was a young person that On The Move (OTM) invested in,” said Abdo. “I want to be able to do that same thing for other people in my community.” Founded in 2004, OTM partners with communities in mobilizing young and emerging leaders to take action in pursuit of social equity. Its mission is to develop and sustain young people as leaders by building exceptional programs that address the most pressing and critical educational, social, health, and economic inequities impacting our community. Abdo has been with the organization for more than 15 years. “Each year, OTM reaches 8,000+ children, youth, and families in Napa County,” said Abdo, who moved to the region specifically to work with OTM. Community-designed and led strategies and programs include the VOICES Youth Center, Innovations Community Center, LGBTQ Connection, and the Neighborhood Initiative, which offers three school-based Family Resource Centers, five Parent University sites, civic engagement, and citizenship support, and five Youth Leadership Academies. “OTM’s initiatives offer a powerful and groundbreaking combination of strategies seeking to engage and develop new leaders, collaborate with partners in rigorous systems change, and foster communities that are inclusive and equitable,” said Abdo, who derives her incredible energy from those with whom she works. “We believe strongly that true success is only possible when community members come together and advocate for themselves and the changes they want to see. When these leaders reflect the community’s diversity, they ensure the needs of all community members are met. When children, youth, and families can see themselves reflected in the diversity of local leaders, it creates a place where they feel they belong, have value, and can be active members of the community. Diversity strengthens the community and leads to better outcomes for all who live and work here.” // onthemovebayarea.org

ERIKA TAVAKOLI, CFRE
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT OPERATIONS // COLLABRIA CARE

Erika Tavakoli moved to Napa 24 years ago to pursue a graphic design position within the wine industry. But her career aspirations pivoted when she was introduced to the world of philanthropy via subsequent positions at Copia and the Land Trust of Napa Valley. Now with Collabria Care for the past ten years, Tavakoli serves as Director of Development Operations, directly overseeing the 41-year-old organization’s grant fundraising program, which primarily raises money to support the Adult Day Healthcare Program, ensuring that community needs are met with a high level of care. She also oversees marketing and communications for the agency and assists with all other facets of the fundraising program. “Our continuum of care and expertise promote wellness as we age, remaining independent in the community, and the importance of living our best lives possible – regardless of any diagnosis,” said Tavakoli. “Simply put, we provide the care and support needed by those faced with a serious or life-limiting illness so they can spend the days they have left– living. We also care for their loved ones and ensure they have the support they need too. As a daughter and mother of three (Kayla, a senior at Vintage, Kira, a sophomore at Vintage, and Niko, a 7th grader at Silverado Middle), this is especially important to me. I want to ensure that not only my parents have access to this care should they need it, but that my husband and kids have the support they’ll need should I become ill. The support and resources we offer are game-changers. Dealing with an illness like Alzheimer’s or a prognosis of six months or less is so profound. We want to ensure that anyone facing serious illness or the end of life doesn’t do it alone. They have a partner in us.” // collabriacare.org

SEAN DEMPSEY
PROPRIETOR // SEAN DEMPSEY & ASSOCIATESPHILANTHROPY PROJECT // COVID HEROES LUNCH PROGRAM

When COVID caused Sean Dempsey’s event planning business to come to a near screeching halt in 2020, he knew he needed a meaningful project to fill his time. He found that project when his friend, Councilwoman Liz Alessio, asked if he might help find a way to feed the dozens of volunteers giving their time to provide COVID testing to Napa residents through CORE, Sean Penn’s coordinated relief program. “The volunteers were receiving lunches from fast-food restaurants in a region known for its first-class cuisine, so I knew we could do much better than that,” said Dempsey, a former food and beverage director for some of the region’s top resorts. He immediately went to work contacting his strong hospitality industry network. His mission? To find various restaurants willing to provide the volunteers with gratis lunch on an exacting schedule. He ultimately secured 37 Napa Valley restaurants, each of which committed to providing meals to the volunteers, one day a week for six weeks, over eight months. “And these offerings were not your typical lunch,” said Dempsey, who had expected the project to last for no more than two months. “Zuzu, for instance, had Thursdays, which became Paella day. Tuesdays was burger day prepared by Gott’s Roadside Napa, and Saturdays was Mexican fare prepared by Taqueria Rosita.” With help from his 17-year-old son Dylan, Dempsey personally picked up and delivered each and every order, six days per week, from April through November. “The amazing meals these generous restaurateurs were happily providing for this hardworking volunteer team gave them the much-needed morale boost when they needed it the most. I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to give back to the community in a truly meaningful way, and I made a lot of new friends in the process.”

MALCOLM DE SIEYES
PRESIDENT, BOARD OF DIRECTORS // NAPA VALLEY COLLEGE FOUNDATION

Napa Valley College (NVC) provides two years of free education to its students and is one of California’s most respected community colleges. The Napa Valley College Foundation (NVCF) is a direct-support organization and non-profit that benefits the college and its students. It exists to supplement state funding, which unfortunately is never nearly enough to cover the rising costs of education adequately. Malcolm de Sieyes serves as president of the Board of Directors for the Foundation. Its mission is to provide scholarships, help with student emergency financial needs, and oversee capital campaign initiatives. In 2020, The Napa Valley College Foundation launched the Foundation Action Strike Team (FAST) Fund to provide financial support in the form of hardship grants to Napa Valley College students impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The creation of the FAST fund was designed to cover unexpected expenses related to housing costs, lost wages, technology needs and groceries to support educational continuity, persistence, and degree completion for Napa Valley College students. “During these uncertain times, it is important to do everything we can to support those who are the most vulnerable,” said Malcolm de Sieyes, Foundation board president. “It is our mission to support the College and its students to ensure we keep as many students in school as possible. FAST is our first line of defense to help those who are feeling the financial pressure to drop out of school.” “The cost of education in the United States is unaffordable and unrealistic for many individuals,” said de Sieyes, who, in addition to his work with NVCF, is the owner and head chef at Silverado Cooking School. “A lot of students are saddled with enormous student loan debt after graduation. If you look at education as a right, as I do, NVC is an incredible instrument to expand someone’s ability to gain a leg up into their industry of focus. This would not be possible without the free education that community colleges provide.” De Sieyes, a Massachusetts native, has been a Napa Valley resident for ten years and has served on the Foundation board for nearly five years, the last two as president. “NVC delivers the education and training necessary to prepare and meet the demands of today’s workforce,” continued de Sieyes. “Higher education should be a right for all people living in the United States.” // napavalley.edu

ERICA ROETMAN SKLAR
PRESIDENT & CEO // NAPA VALLEY COMMUNITY HOUSING

Erica Roetman Sklar’s passion for housing comes from witnessing the change in people’s lives when they receive safe and stable housing for the first time. “It’s transformative to see, for example, a child become healthy and avoid her monthly hospital visits after moving into one of our homes,” said Sklar, president and CEO of Napa Valley Community Housing (NVCH). “Access to stable housing provides social, economic, and health benefits to our residents and our community as a whole. It creates economic security that allows for upward mobility, educational advancement, and improvements in physical and mental health. It also creates a more stable and reliable workforce, a critical need in Napa right now.” Sklar’s work with NVCH is a homecoming of sorts; her history with the organization goes back to 2001, when she served as NVCH’s project manager for housing development. In the interim, she has served as executive director for Calistoga Affordable Housing and Asian Neighborhood Design. With NVCH, she advocates for shelter for everyone. NVCH has a 43-year history of providing safe, clean, affordable homes in Napa County and has transformed the lives of tens of thousands with supportive, sponsored, self-help, and elder housing and affordable rental housing. “The housing crisis is daunting, and Napa is no exception,” said Sklar, a 20-year Napa resident who raised two children in St. Helena. “A home is a basic fundamental right. It’s the place where you and your family enjoy life’s moments and celebrations, make memories to last a lifetime, and find ways to overcome challenges. A home provides safety and stability for its residents and the greater community. At NVCH, we believe that caring for everyone with housing needs should be our focus and that each member of our community should have a place to call home.” // nvch.org

CLAUDIA SONDER
PRESIDENT // NAPA COMMUNITY ANIMAL RESPONSE TEAM (CART)

The organization for which Claudia Sonder serves as president was created out of necessity in 2016 after the Valley Fire raged through the region. Sonder and Kevin Twohey, then director of the Napa Emergency Operations Center, established Napa CART to educate the public on the animal component of disaster preparedness. “Past disasters have shown us time and again that people will ignore evacuation orders and drive around fire barriers to get to their animals,” said Sonder, who oversees all aspects of CART, from outreach, planning, operations, finances, and logistics. “Working together as a community, we can preserve the human-animal bond and keep our citizens, first responders, and animals safe.” Napa CART is now integrated into the Emergency Action Plan and assists Emergency Services in sheltering, evacua-tion, and caring for animals during a disaster. The organization also trains first responders, veterinary professionals, and community volunteers in animal rescue and trauma care. It works closely with Napa County emergency operations center and Napa CERT teams to ensure response team safety, tracking, and communications. “When the Wine Country Complex fires erupted in 2017, we were able to shelter several hundred animals with the support of many in the community,” said Sonder, who first moved to the Valley in 1997 to work as a large animal veterinarian. “Since that time, we assisted the Camp Fire, Kincaid Fire, and the LNU and Glass Fires in 2020. In 2020 alone, Napa CART tracked more than 6,000 volunteer hours and sheltered more than 1000 animals. “The community has suffered trauma with these multiple fires. Knowing there is a safe place to evacuate animals or that a trained team can shelter or retrieve an animal left behind brings tremendous relief to those who have everything to lose. The healing power of the human-animal bond is an important aspect of resilience, and Napans are resilient!” // napacart.org