One in sixty-eight American children has some form of autism. Victoria Cahill's brother has it, too. But what Victoria did, as her senior
project at Windsor High School, has changed much more than only her brother's life.
She realized that special students like him felt left out
of school events that the rest of us took for granted. Because Victoria enjoyed her high school prom so much, she took inspiration from her
brother to create the "Justin Cahill Special Needs Prom," and over the last four years, hundreds of students have had the chance to experience
THEIR senior prom, making memories that will last a lifetime. KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now add Victoria Cahill to our list of Hometown Heroes.
Many of us would like to think that we would do the right thing,
but if YOU saw a wallet, stuffed with over $1,500 dollars in cash...what would YOU do?
Augustino Malisa drives a yellow cab at night in Santa Rosa. His friends call him TINO, and as he was filling up at the gas
station, he spotted a wallet bulging with hundred-dollar bills, just sitting there on the pump: credit cards, driver's license...
Driving a cab is a hard way to make a living. He could have easily pocketed all that
money, and no one would have been the wiser...but not Tino. He tracked down the owner and returned it all, every cent. With all the deepening
darkness in the world, it falls to a cab driver named Tino to lead us back to the light. For doing the right thing,
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now honor Tino Malisa as our next Hometown Hero!
Only a few weeks ago, winter storms hammered the Russian River. Swollen to overflowing, the waters topped their banks
flooding, then stranding hundreds of Guerneville residents. As the rain continued to fall, Bruce McDonald
volunteered himself and his duck boat to help other members of his community escape to the safety of dry land. Pets were
saved... people were saved and Bruce confirmed again, that when times get tough, Sonoma County can count on its
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now add Bruce McDonald to our growing list of Hometown Heroes!
For the last five years, young Charlotte Mitchell hasn't received any gifts for her birthday...but that's exactly what she
wanted. Instead of celebrating with presents, she has chosen a different non-profit to support each year. So far, Charlotte has
raised thousands of dollars for homeless families, homeless youth, assistance dogs, families in Cuba and families affected by
the Valley Fire in Lake County.
Charlotte is setting an example to us all that getting gifts for your birthday is nice, but not as good as
GIVING to those in need. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now honor Charlotte Mitchell as our next Hometown Hero!
We don't live in a 'you' world or a 'me' world; we live in a 'you and me' world. Gene Crozat spent many years of his life fulfilling the
promises kept in those words. As Gene's auto body business expanded, so did his ability to help others in need. He generously supported Sonoma
County Children's Village, a haven for foster children, and the Sonoma County Secret Santa Program. Then, in 2013, Gene created the Crozat
Family Foundation, which has provided food, housing, and cars...and changed the lives of more than a hundred people!
Gene's loss is a big blow to our community, but his legacy lives on. KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe honor the memory of Gene Crozat and add his name to our list of Hometown Heros.
It was a lazy July afternoon in Windsor. An armored truck just arrived at the Chase Bank shopping complex...
but someone else was waiting for them! Suddenly, a second vehicle pulled up from behind. Two assailants jumped out,
and the sounds of gunfire rippled through the air! A security guard lay motionless on the concrete. When the robbers had fled,
Vietnam Veteran Mike Barbitta sprang into action, wrapping the guard's jagged leg wound, stopping the bleeding...and saving his life!
For his quick thinking, KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now honor Mike Barbitta as our next Hometown Hero!
You're never too old to teach...or to learn! Just ask 90-year-old Patricia Spencer, a former kindergarten teacher at
Yulupa Elementary school, and now a volunteer at the Cesar Chavez Language Academy. Three days a week, Patricia works one-on-one
with the students, helps with art projects, sews costumes, directs student theatrical productions...and is learning
to speak Spanish! She also provides school supplies to those who need them, usually out of her own pocket. When
asked why at 90 is she still teaching...Patricia says "this is my passion...I enjoy anything I can do to help them;
they bring so much joy to my life!" KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now add Patricia Spencer to our list of Hometown Heroes.
Sometimes helping a friend ends up helping yourself, or in Robert Starkey's
case, helping thousands pet owners. When his friend's dog, Zoe was diagnosed with cancer, Bob,
a professional photographer got out his camera. 5,000 pictures later he had set up a massive Facebook page,
called "Fans of Zoe." When Zoe passed, her Facebook page was flooded with stories from readers worldwide,
who grieved the loss of their own pets.Then Bob worked with Sonoma Regional Parks to officially designate a
picnic table for "Zoe the Happy Dog," and established a fund to create "Zoe's Trail" for others to walk their
pets in Zoe's memory.
Can one person make a difference? KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe think so, as we now
add Robert Starkey's name to our list of Hometown Heroes.
Martin Pang and David Stimmel are just a couple of local guys who work together.
One day over lunch, they decided it was time to give back to the community.
First Martin and Dave held canned food drives for the Redwood Food Bank,
then cleaned up beaches and most recently have been cleaning up Spring Lake.
It isn't unusual to see them giving away gloves, bags, mechanical grabbers,
and buckets, to walkers in the park so that everyone can join in the clean up.
For their help in maintaining the pristine beauty of Sonoma County, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now
add Martin Pang and David Stimmel to our list of Hometown Heroes.
BBQ grills and television set...refrigerators and mattresses...Piles of wet clothes and rotting food, shopping carts, used band aids, medical syringes, and thousands of bottles.
These are just some of the things that Keary and Sally Sorenson of rural Sebastopol have pulled out of the
river banks, beaches and homeless encampments in Sonoma county. Six to seven hundred pounds of society's discarded junk that they
personally haul away every month to make this the pristine landscape that is the envy of the world.
For their passionate defense of our environment,
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now add Keary and Sally Sorenson to our list of Hometown Heroes!
Amid the yelling and splashing of a busy birthday swim party, 15-year old
Boy Scout Max Nunley, a freshman at Rincon Valley Christian School, noticed something was wrong.
He saw a toddler floating face down at the deep end of the pool. Max dove into the cool water,
lifted the young boy's head, and pulled him to the edge of the pool while someone dialed 9-1-1. Because of his quick thinking, the toddler has made a full
recovery...and the Boy Scouts have awarded Max a National Honor Medal.
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would also like to honor Max Nunley as our Hometown Hero.
It was a bold experiment: a place where students were free to dream, learn, and achieve during their challenging middle school
years. Twelve years ago, Pam Carpenter launched Santa Rosa's Mark West Charter School. After the first year, she was
diagnosed with cancer, but even THAT didn't slow her down. To celebrate her return to health, the very next year she set her
sights on the California Distinguished School Award, and got it!
But after more than a decade of field trips, science projects, school dances, and giving stranded students a ride home, Pam
has decided to retire and spend time at home with her husband... who is now battling cancer himself. For all that she has given to
her community, Sam's For Play Cafe and KZST would like to give back... and add Pam Carpenter to our list of Hometown Heroes.
When Dylan Day was only three and a half years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Despite three grueling years of chemotherapy,
Dylan remained positive, often saying "this is the best day ever." Towards the end of treatment, he regained enough mobility to
start attending local cancer fundraising activities. In 2014, during monthly Relay for Life meetings, he created "Dylan's Heroes."
They would go on to raise over $20,000 for the American Cancer Society, and over $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Dylan does not take his current good health for granted, and continues to give back to the causes that helped make his recovery
possible. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now honor Dylan Day as our next Hometown Hero.
You don't have to play sports to be in the game. Despite having cerebral palsy, El Molino alum Skip Cassady has always wanted to be a
part of a team. Now he is part of several! Skip is El Molino's junior varsity football public-address announcer and the varsity
squad's sideline spotter. He keeps the scorebook for El Molino's boys basketball teams, and is also the announcer for the Lions'
varsity baseball team.
It's just one more way of giving back for Skip, who also donates his time to Food for Thought and the
Russian River Senior Resource Center. For being a winner on and off the field, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now add
Skip Cassady to our list of Hometown Heroes.
Who would stand toe to toe with a 20 foot wall of flame?
Armed only with a pick axe and a water hose...who would choose to turn and fight, instead of turn and run? Who would leap from
the safety of a helicopter jump seat...into a raging fire? Whose idea of a comfortable place to sleep...is a concrete driveway in
front of a smoldering house? Who would breathe the smoke, and suffer the heat, and fight with every ounce of their being to
save the lives and property of others? KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now nominate every one of the men and women who fought
the Valley Fire as our Hometown Heroes.
As Myriah Volk was taping the sole back onto a 5th grade boy's shoe so that he could participate in her P.E. class, she was
struck by how many kids don't have the proper shoes for exercise. Another boy showed up to run the mile in his uncle's boots
that were 3 sizes too big...because that's all he had to wear! So Myriah recently started a non-profit called Shoes 4 Kidz
that provides a good pair of athletic shoes to every child that needs one. She has personally delivered over one hundred pairs
of shoes to schools and shelters since her fundraiser in February and hopes to reach every school in Sonoma County.
For helping our kids get off on the right foot, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now add Myriah Volk to our list of Hometown Heroes.
For many children in Sonoma County, Christmas is just another day without
clothes that fit and a coat to keep them warm. 23 year-old Brianna Vaccaro
of Windsor, a college student and full-time nanny, wanted to
help. Last year, she started "Little Angels Helping North Bay Families in
Need," requesting slightly-used infant and children's clothing, toys, and
other goods. The response was so tremendous that she spent two
weekends driving all over Sonoma County collecting the items, and this
year, she has nearly six hundred kids on her Christmas list! Brianna has
also collected and distributed supplies to the Valley Fire victims, and is the
Christmas Princess for the special needs children of Sonoma County's
holiday celebration, and the Windsor Town Green holiday tree lighting ceremonies.
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to honor Brianna Vaccaro as a Hometown Hero!
Contractor Tim Oxford of Windsor, CA has lead a double life for the last 23
years! Behind his closet door hangs a special red suit that transforms him
into..."Santa Tim!" He's worked closely with the Living Room, California
Children Services, Sonoma County Maternal Child, as well as local
churches and other non-profit agencies. During the holiday season and
throughout the year, Santa Tim provides support to children and their
families that have limited resources and are typically below the poverty
level. Last year, the Santa Tim program reached out to over thirteen
hundred people in need, providing much-needed sleeping bags,
backpacks, rain gear, clothing, toys, non-perishable food items and food
gift cards. For bringing Christmas cheer all year long, KZST and Sam's
For Play Cafe honor "Santa Tim!" Oxford as our next Hometown Hero!
Imagine you are the father of a boy with autism...a disabled stay-at-home
mom, or a family of five who had lost their home to foreclosure....and you
don't even have a car. For the last four years, Sebastopol's Kate Jonasse,
through her automotive company, has donated cars to area residents in need of transportation. Kate calls her giveaway
"Good Karma," because the people who are nominated to receive the cars often put the needs of their families and friends
above their own. Kate also donates her time to doing car care clinics at the local high school, teaching kids to change
tires and check oil. Grateful for the support her own community has given her business during hard times, this is
Kate's way of "paying it forward." KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to add Kate Jonasse to our list of Hometown Heroes!
As he was riding his bicycle down Dutton Avenue, Alex Tappan smelled something burning. He saw a mother and her daughter in
a Jeep, stopped in the middle of the road, with steam boiling out from under the hood. When he and a stranger began pushing it to a nearby service station,
the hood ruptured, belching out a firestorm of flames and thick black smoke. The mother jumped out and pleaded with him to save her daughter. Teary eyed and
choking from the hot, toxic fumes, Alex was unable to unbuckle the safety seat. Determined to save her life, he took out his pocketknife and cut her free.
Thirty seconds later, the Jeep was completely engulfed, and Alex Tappan became our next KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe's Hometown Hero.
When 10 year old Ian Rich of Santa Rosa earns a new belt in Karate, he is required to learn a new word. The word he chose
was compassion. But just learning that word was not enough for Ian; he wanted to understand its true meaning. When he learned
that hundreds of homeless families in Sonoma County don't have blankets to keep them warm at night, he started Operation Blanket,
raising money to buy blankets for the needy. So far he has purchased over 300 and doesn't plan on stopping there.
To honor Ian's compassion for those less fortunate, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to add Ian Rich as a Hometown Hero.
It was days into his 4th tour of duty when Sgt. James Horton found himself leading a patrol through the dangerous back alleys
of Fallujah. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash and a deafening explosion…his vehicle had been hit! Sgt. Horton
was blown out through a turret. After four years of learning to stand, then walk, and talk again, he came home to Santa Rosa to
start a new life. This time his uniform would be "chef whites", as a few weeks ago he opened a restaurant in Sonoma County.
Every veteran who walks through the door gets an automatic discount as Sgt. Horton honors those that served by serving them.
honor Sgt. Horton's service, KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe place James Horton on our list of Hometown Heroes.
The jagged cliffs near Fort Ross State Historic Park are beautiful…but treacherous…especially to a young boy who
had wandered away from a family picnic and tumbled 40 feet over the cliff.
His crumpled body was found, still breathing, by fisherman Michael Borges of Santa Rosa who knew he had to get the boy
back to safety. Slowly Michael inched back up the steep walls of the cliff. .. cradling the boy's motionless
body in his arms. Inch by arduous inch…ignoring the burning pain of tearing tendons and muscles in his legs, he carried him
to safety. Were the pain and the weeks of lost work he spent recuperating worth it?
We think it was, and that is why KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now honor Michael Borges as a Hometown Hero.
Would you donate a kidney…to someone you never met?
It was a year ago when Lorene Romero of Windsor was cycling with her weekly group of riders, when
she noticed someone was missing. Her friend and fellow cyclist revealed that her husband could no longer join them,
because he was sick and needed a kidney transplant. Without hesitation, Lorene offered to help. Unfortunately, she was not
a match, but that didn't stop Lorene. She was determined to stay in the system to see if she could help someone else. So
last December 4th, Lorene checked into the hospital to have her kidney removed, and it was given to a stranger, saving
their life! In honor of her personal sacrifice, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to add Lorene Romero to our list of Hometown Heroes.
The sun-splashed beauty of Sonoma County is unique in its diversity and history. Protecting that legacy requires constant care.
No one knows that better than Bill Bambrick. During his eight-year tenure as president of the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods,
Bill has put in over five thousand hours of personal effort, maintaining and building trails, fighting off park closures,
keeping campsites open, and helping to replace a bridge on the Willow Creek Watershed, restoring a key salmon habitat. For helping
to maintain the treasures of Sonoma County so that all of us may continue to enjoy them, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to
add Bill Bambrick to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference. For Matt Swingle, Vince Fillebrown, and John Olufs
of the Petaluma Water Department, it started out as a typical morning. While clearing storm drains, they struck up a
conversation with a local resident who was also celebrating her birthday…when something went terribly wrong! Without warning, she
collapsed in their arms and stopped breathing! Immediately, they called 9-1-1 and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. Their
quick actions saved her life. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to add Matt Swingle, Vince Fillebrown, and John Olufs to our
growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Contractor Carlos Gonzalez was working inside a friend's small Santa Rosa apartment when he was interrupted by the sound of a fire alarm.
Running outside, he saw thick, black smoke rolling from the the roof of the apartment building next door. Hearing the screams of a woman on the
second floor he grabbed a ladder and raced to her rescue. At first, she hesitated to leave, determined to retrieve her belongings. But Carlos
insisted, as the wall of fire behind her crept closer. Carefully, he helped her down the ladder and away from the burning building.
In honor of his bravery and quick thinking, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to honor Carlos Gonzalez as our next Hometown Hero.
What IS the American Dream? Charles DeMeo, nicknamed "Chop," grew up in Santa Rosa, living on the "wrong side of the tracks".
He was poor, but he was smart and worked hard, even digging graves while in high school to save money for college.
Chop would go on to become a lawyer, then mayor of Santa Rosa, and finally, a multimillionaire. When he died in 1995,
Chop had one more surprise… leaving the bulk of his estate to the Sonoma County Community Foundation.
Santa Rosa's Chop's Teen Club, was named in his honor. Inside, you'll find a recording studio, nightclub and dance floor,
an art studio, a gym with a climbing wall, computer lab, teaching kitchen, and café. In honor of his enduring legacy , KZST and Sam's For
Play Cafe would like to honor Charles DeMeo as our Hometown Hero.
When the news reports said Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, was roaring through the Philippines,
71-year old Sonoma County nurse Betty Woods packed her bags. When she arrived she immediately began to do what she had done all her
Life: bandage wounds, treat infections, and restore hope. The heat…staggering, the devastation…indescribable…11 million lives torn
asunder, but retired Betty Woods was there to help. When we asked why she did it ? she simply said “I am not retired,
I just don't work for money anymore.”
When she's not assisting with disasters, Betty works every Monday as a nurse at the
Jewish Community Free Clinic in Rohnert Park, and can be found on Wednesdays building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
In the Philippines, Betty is a difference maker, and she is makes a difference at home too.
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to add Betty Woods to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
When Lillian Gonzales was only four years old, she learned about the ravages of cancer, and was devastated to find out how
children her age could lose their hair! It was then she decided to help those kids by donating her own. Her mom, however,
said she would have to wait for her hair to grow. Three years passed, but Lillian never forgot the promise she made.
So on her seventh birthday, she approached her mom. And with her hair finally long enough, she received her very first haircut,
with three years of hair growth going to the group “Children With Hair Loss.”
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to add Lilian Gonzales to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Two years ago, Austin and Travis Richter of Santa Rosa were excited about celebrating their 7th birthday. But when the twin boys heard an ad
on the radio talking about struggling foster children, they told Mom to forget about their presents! They wanted to help, and used their birthday
money to buy pajamas for those needy kids. Last year, they skipped their gifts again, and donated one hundred pairs of socks and underwear.
This year, Austin and Travis had a birthday party, where all the guests were asked to bring school supplies!
KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to add Austin and Travis Richter to our growing list of Hometown Heroes!
Once a proud little Carnegie Library, the Petaluma Mueum was in trouble. Over the years, the building and grounds had become
rat infested and fallen into neglect. Sonoma County was in danger of losing a treasured landmark. But Paula Freund stepped
in and snatched the museum from the clutches of time, spending numerous hours getting it in tip top shape, cleaning, arranging and
organizing the current exhibit, “Petaluma Viticulture History and Heritage: A Celebration of Wine and Community.”
For helping to
preserve a vital part of Sonoma County history, KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to add Paula Freund to our growing list of Hometown Heroes!
Without warning, the ground beneath you begins to move. Streets buckle…buildings collapse. It's the strongest earthquake to hit the Bay Area in 25 years,
and it was centered in Napa. On August 24th, Nicole Massey, Regional Volunteer Director at the American Red Cross got the call as a state of
emergency was declared in Napa. Despite being six months pregnant, Nicole rolled out of bed and headed to where people were in trouble.
100.1 KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to salute Nicole Massey by adding her name to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
6:45 and the call came in: a biker was down in Annadel…with serious head injuries. With darkness closing in, the Bennett Valley
Fire Department rescue crew knew they were racing against the clock. Company Leader Travis Browne and his crew scrambled up two
and a half miles of narrow, rugged dirt trails, carrying 200 pounds of rescue equipment. With Travis taking the lead, they
reached the cold but conscious victim. Then with flashlights in hand, carried him back down again. Travis' bravery was recently
recognized by the American Red Cross.
1001. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to salute Travis Browne and his crew at the
Bennett Valley Fire Department by adding their names to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
It was a beautiful, sun-splashed afternoon in Sebastopol, and Ralph Harms was doing what he loved: playing a round of golf with his
son, Joe. When Ralph collapsed on the golf course in full cardiac arrest, Joe sprang into action, performing CPR until paramedics could arrive. He saved
his father's life. How did Joe know what to do? Only four days before, his father had taught him how! But this wasn't the first time Joe saved a life. Last
year, he used the Heimlich Maneuver on a friend who was choking at a restaurant. Joe was recently honored by the American Red Cross, proving he
is a good man to have around in an emergency! KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe are proud to add Joe Harms to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Dennis Keelan had just sat down to watch a football game on TV…when something felt terribly wrong. He had just experienced a stroke! Fortunately,
his wife was there to call 9-1-1, and a rapid medical response saved him. After he completed his initial treatment, Dennis wondered how he could ever
finish physical therapy on his own…until he learned of a program at Santa Rosa Junior College called Adaptive Physical Education. His therapy there
has been challenging…but productive, making the difference between surviving…and living! And it was all free! KZST and Sam's
For Play Cafe are proud to add Kathy Bell, Lynn Fischl and the staff at Adaptive Physical Education to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Imagine for a minute that you are hungry. Everywhere around you are restaurants…and grocery stores. But you don't have the money to even
step through the door. Then, as the emptiness in your stomach gnaws away your faith in humanity, Barbara Brown walks into your life, bringing you food to
nourish your body…and hope to nourish your soul. Every week, Barbara Brown and the Windsor Service Alliance provide meals for over 130 families
right here in Sonoma County, and they do it all for free. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe would like to salute Barbara Brown by adding her name to
our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
Coast Guard Officer Megan Vega was awakened one morning to the panicked
sound of shouting outside. Megan, still in her pajamas, bolted out of her door to
see flames and smoke boiling from her neighbor's house. In the doorway of that
burning home was an older man confused and coughing from the thick black
smoke. Amazingly, he was standing in the doorway, trying to put the fire out
with a garden hose! As a river of fire began to cascade down the stairs directly
towards her neighbor, Megan rushed into the flames, and pulled him to safety!
Megan's quick thinking was recently recognized by the American Red Cross. KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe
would like to salute Megan Vega by adding her name to our growing list of Hometown Heroes.
As the mother of a disabled son, Mary Beth Ludwig was frustrated at the lack of resources available for kids struggling
with a disability. But, instead of being overwhelmed, she took her own challenge and turned it around to help others,
partnering with Andrew Bailey to start Anova out of a garage as a local resource. Since then, Anova has expanded
to serve over 170 students within their three schools and has served more than 3,000 families all over Northern California.
Anova helps families in need whose kids are affected by disorders such as Autism and Asperger's and also provides
after-school programs, camps, services in public schools and in-home environments for children with all types of disabilities.
Most nine-year old boys are busy with their Playstations and iPad…but Mario Herrera is no ordinary nine-year old boy!
He wondered how children who are homeless, or whose families live paycheck to paycheck were able to buy gifts for their parents.
Fueled by the desire that all kids should be able to experience the joy and sense of pride that comes from buying presents for
their parents, Mario founded “A Child's Place to Shop.” Children in need are able to choose a personal and meaningful gift
for their parents…and it's all FREE! Last year, A Child's Place to Shop was able to help out more than fifty children, and
with the support of his family and friends, Mario hopes to double that this year.
There's a little corner store in Santa Rosa known as Dave's Market…but David Berry and his employees occasionally do MORE than sell groceries.
Ask the homeless man who arrived in tatters and left with a bag of clothes…or the out-of-work mom who didn't have enough money to send her
son camping with the rest of his sixth grade class. She asked Dave if he would sponsor her son in a walkathon…and Dave and his employees'
generous contributions were enough to pay for the entire trip! KZST would like to salute David Berry for making a difference right here in
Sonoma County. We honor Dave by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Despite enduring heartbreaking personal losses, Arlene Dean's commitment to helping others has never wavered. As a hospice nurse,
Arlene works tirelessly to provide strength and love to her patients making their final transitions. As their families and
friends look for ways to cope, emotions run high…but Arlene is always there, so that her clients and their loved ones get
the attention they deserve. KZST would like to salute Arlene Dean for making a difference right here in Sonoma County.
We honor Arlene by placing her name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
San Quentin State Prison: usually a place that people try to avoid. But not Kimberly Bailey. Every Friday afternoon she heads inside the prison to
help teach men with diabetes how to manage their condition. Kimberly also serves on the committee that sponsors the Avon Breast Cancer walk inside the prison.
When she's not busy with that, Kimberly puts together small bags with food, soap, and personal care items and passes them out to homeless people she meets
during her travels. KZST would like to salute Kimberly Bailey for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor Kimberly by placing her
name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
For some, martial arts means breaking boards…but at the Martial Arts Youth Institute, or “May I,” they are building hope! Robin Guasco,
its co-founder and executive director, was heartbroken when her own daughters joined gangs, and she was frustrated by the lack of available help.
“May I,” is a local nonprofit serving “at- risk youth” and their families, offering a positive alternative to gangs, improving self esteem,
and teaching the principals of self-control, honor, integrity, and respect. In 2010, Robin was honored with the coveted Jefferson Award,
given to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. KZST would like to salute Robin Guasco for making a difference right here in Sonoma County.
We honor Robin by placing her name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
When Julie Brady, a third-grade teacher at Piner-Olivet Union School was diagnosed with stage three cancer back in January, her world came
to an abrupt halt. But she was MORE concerned about leaving her students right in the middle of the school year. Who would take care of them?
Julie's fellow educators and staff, or her “Piner-Olivet family,” quickly stepped in. They reminded Julie that the ONLY thing she needed to
concentrate on was her health. Julie's Piner-Olivet family sends her daily emails, letters and cards filled with words of encouragement,
humor and support. Gifts and homemade meals for her family of five are continually brought to her doorstep. The staff have even donated
vacation time, so that Julie's leave is entirely taken care of! KZST would like to salute the staff at the Piner-Olivet Union School
District for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor them by placing their name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
As a 14 year old, Allyson Allstrom wanted to make a difference.
Combining her love of fashion with a desire to help others, she created a full-service boutique called “Threads for Teens.” Now a senior at Cardinal Newman,
Allyson has provided new outfits for over 250 girls who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them…and she does it for free! This summer, Threads for Teens
is going on tour with a goal of outfitting 1000 deserving girls in brand new clothes!
Recently named one of America's top ten youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington DC, KZST would like to salute Allyson Allstrom for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor Allyson by by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
There are coaches…and then there is Jeff Pratt. Jeff runs the Santa Rosa High School girls softball program and the Victory Fastpitch summer and fall travel team.
After a full day at work, you might find him dragging and watering his Santa Rosa High softball diamond, and even working the snack bar during sporting events.
But over the last thirty years, Jeff has taken coaching to a new level, spending countless hours mentoring hundreds of girls…and never expects anything in return!
Jeff even has a 45 foot garage at his home, so the girls can pitch and hit in the garage during the winter off season!
KZST would like to salute Jeff Pratt for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor Jeff by by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
A raging apartment fire illuminated the night skies over Rohnert Park. Over the crackling flames, Trevor Kasimoff could hear the
screams of those trapped inside. Racing towards the burning structure, he was there to catch a mother and her two children as they jumped
out the second-story window. Using a ladder left behind by a maintenance crew, he was able to save two more lives.
KZST would like to salute
Trevor Kasimoff for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor Trevor by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
It was a sun-soaked summer day at Tennessee Valley Beach. After a beautiful two mile hike, Maya Niño, Ajmal Shah, and a couple
of their friends finally made it to the cove to unwind and hang out. Later, as they prepared to leave, a giant wave crashed into the
cove and swept them all out to sea. Maya was caught in a rip current and spent almost an hour in the water, exhausted and losing her struggle to survive.
Despite pleas to return to shore, Ajmal tried repeatedly to save her, finally emerging together from the rough, freezing waves.
KZST would like to salute
Ajmal Shah for making a difference right here in Sonoma County. We honor Ajmal by placing his name onto our list of“KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Several times a week, 65-year old Merle Reuser scales a steep hill off Calistoga Road to plant and pick daffodils. Over the years,
Merle has given out tens of thousands of these yellow splashes of color and participates in an annual remembrance of Courtney Davis, a young Cloverdale
girl who lost her battle with cancer in 2008 by providing the daffodil bouquets to distribute to the students and faculty. Why does he do this? To honor the
memory of Margaret Davis, an rancher he befriended as a child, who planted within him a love of these beautiful flowers. You might also find Merle passing
out candy, homemade gifts and greeting cards…just to brighten someone's day!
KZST would like to salute Merle Reuser for making a difference right here in
Sonoma County. We honor Merle by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
A silent tragedy surrounds us in Sonoma County. Few people talk about it…but it is the leading cause of injury to local women. It's domestic violence.
Before the mid 70s, there were no options and little hope…until Linda Reitzell, Barbara Tomin, and Pat Kuta opened their homes and hearts to these abused women. But demand
quickly outgrew their capacity to help, so in 1977, the newly-formed YWCA Sonoma County opened a women's shelter. The YWCA Safe House, the
ONLY domestic violence shelter in Sonoma County, helps women and children recover from the trauma of abuse, become self sufficient, and
thrive! Visit them online at ywcasc.org
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, KZST would like to salute Linda Reitzell, Barbara Tomin, and
Pat Kuta, the primary founders of YWCA Sonoma County, for making a difference. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor them by placing
their name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
If you live near Monte Rio, you probably have your own story about Fire Chief Steve Baxman.
Anytime the community is faced with danger, Steve is ready to help. When a young woman crashed though a sliding glass door,
Steve was right on the scene to provide first aid and to keep her father calm. Last year, when storm damage prevented residents from leaving their
neighborhood, Steve was there, moving debris and leading everyone to safety.
KZST salutes Steve Baxman for making a difference,
right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
For Alan Allen of Petaluma, losing a job he loved was the best thing that ever happened to him. While searching Facebook for employment
opportunities, he kept noticing how many kids needed bicycles. Alan's passion to help people in need quickly surpassed his desire to find a job, so
he created Community Bikes Petaluma. During their first four months, they've fixed up fifty bikes…and given them away for free! Alan Allen
follows his own advice when he says “The center of the word 'community' is you!”
KZST would like to salute Alan Allen, for making a difference, right here in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank,
we honor him by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Over the last 40 years, John Lantz has done it all: charged through burning buildings, pulled drivers out of cars that looked more like
crumpled soda cans, and dried the tears of children. As the Assistant Chief of the Rincon Valley Fire Department, John has always placed the safety of others above his
own. But this coming November, John is retiring...so we would like to take this opportunity to say thanks!
KZST now salutes John Lantz for making a difference, right here in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by
placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Over 43 years ago, Peter Cameron left the sweltering jungles of Vietnam. Upon returning home, he found himself fighting another battle.
Shocked at the level of care for veterans in Sonoma County, Peter started Vietnam Veterans of California. His efforts have provided a
safe haven for hundreds of homeless veterans, served tens of thousands of meals, and given comfort to those still struggling with the
nightmares of war. What began in Sonoma County has now grown to five service centers throughout California.
KZST now salutes Peter Cameron for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor
him by placing his name onto our list of "KZST Hometown Heroes."
What is it about the Petaluma National Little League team that has captivated the entire county?
Is it the 13 talented boys demonstrating a passion for baseball? Is it the four coaches showing how
teamwork is made up of individual contributions? Is it the team's parents and grandparents insisting
they demonstrate the kind of character and sportsmanship displayed by Danny Marzo who, gracious on
the mound, high fived Texas player Jordan Cardenas as he jogged down the third-base line, after going
deep in the third? Is it Sonoma County businesses like the movie theater that televised their games
to donate the price of admission to the team's families so they could travel to watch their sons live?
Is it the local businesses joining together to produce a homecoming ticker tape parade? Is it the
boys themselves, who after all was said and done, asked that surplus fundraising be sent to help a
little league team in Uganda, whose players they befriended while in Pennsylvania? Or is it all of the above?
KZST now salutes the people of Sonoma County and the Petaluma National Little League team for making a
Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by
placing her name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Kim Conley was twenty meters behind going into the homestretch of a
5000 meter race, her heart pounding...legs aching. Instead of feeling sorry
for herself and giving up, Kim pushed herself even harder! With one final
burst, the Montgomery High School graduate finished an eyelash ahead of
the next runner, and earned a spot on the US Olympic team!
KZST now salutes Kim Conley for her incredible performance representing
Sonoma County in the 2012 Olympics!
Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by
placing her name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
It started in the garage of Jack Blankenship, ten years ago.
Jack started selling old building materials and tools, giving the proceeds to
Habitat for Humanity. After spreading the word to lumber yards and
contractors for materials and appliances, more people began to donate and
business quickly outgrew his driveway. Jack opened a huge warehouse in
Santa Rosa where people could buy used and surplus building supplies
with the profits going to Habitat for Humanity.
If you ask Jack what has made him the happiest over the years, he'll smile
and tell you about the many families who now have a roof over their head!
KZST now salutes Jack Blankenship for making a difference, right here, in
Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by
placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
The sandbags and pup tent looked strangely out of place on the well-
manicured lawn of the Petaluma Museum. Joe Noriel
president of the Petaluma Museum, had just put the finishing touches
on his exhibit, “The Vietnam Experience: A Soldier's Story”…the first
Sonoma County event EVER to formally recognize and welcome home its
For some, it was part of a forty-year healing process. For others too young
to remember, it was an experience they would never forget.
For the last three years, Joe has continued to enrich Sonoma County, with
an outstanding array of exhibitions honoring its local heroes and
providing us with an amazing opportunity to appreciate the
best of history! For reminding us that our vision of the
future is incomplete without understanding our past, KZST now salutes
Joe Noriel for making a difference, right here in Sonoma County. Together
with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto
our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
What happens to a mother who just got clean, looking into her newborn
baby's eyes…and frightened about their future? Who will wrap their arms
around them… and tell them someone cares…? Dana Bryant is the founder
of Crossing the Jordan Foundation, and with support from the community,
they have transformed the lives of abused women and children in Sonoma
County by getting them off the streets,
away from the drugs and abuse…and into their very own home! KZST now
salutes Dana Bryant and Crossing the Jordan Foundation for making a
difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange
Bank, we honor them by placing their names onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
In Duncan's Mills is a tea shop called Mr. Trombly's Tea, run by Brian
Trombly. But Brian also does a little thing called “Tea-cher of the Month.”
Every month he takes your nominations, finds a teacher, and gives them a
percentage of what he sells. It's Brian's way of saying “thanks,” and now,
it's our turn. KZST salutes Brian Trombly for making a difference,
right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor
him by placing his name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Vira Burgerman lives along the sun-splashed banks of the Russian River.
Growing up, she saw firsthand the struggles of local fishermen trying to
make a living. So, for the last nine years, she has led a tireless crusade to
protect our local waterways and fish habitats. Vira is California's only
licensed and registered mermaid, and every year you can find her...scales,
tail, and all, at MermaidFest, whose proceeds benefit the California Clean
Water Institute. KZST now salutes Vira Burgerman for making a difference,
right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor
her by placing her name onto our list of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
There's nothing quite like the wide-eyed wonder of a child on Christmas!
Who can forget the warm twinkle of lights…the sweet aroma of home cooking…and presents waiting under the tree? Kim Hamilton and her husband manage the
Rancho Feliz Mobile Home Park in Rohnert Park, and for the last three years, she has made sure that every child in the park is able to celebrate the joy of
Christmas with dinners, trees, bicycles, clothes and even letters from Santa!
KZST now salutes Kim Hamilton for making a difference in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank we honor them by placing their names onto our honor
roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Some people just know how to give…like Dara Peloquin. When her grandparents fell ill, Dara pushed aside her plans for graduate school to take care of them.
After they passed away, she volunteered at the Sonoma Humane Society, walking dogs and mentoring kids from a local group home. You might also find her
in the children's section at the northwest library at Coddingtown, wearing a skirt and flip flops as she reads to a child.
KZST now salutes Dara Peloquin for making a difference in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank we honor them by placing their names onto
our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Picture a group of women gathered around a table, chatting, laughing, and savoring a plate of appetizers. After an hour or so,these ladies get down to business,
discussing charities and how they can help. They're known as "The Fabulous Women of Petaluma". Started five years ago by Krista Gawronski, The Fabulous Women have
grown from a handful of girlfriends, to a dynamic female force that has made a positive impact on our community.
KZST now salutes Krista Gawronski for making a difference in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank we honor them by placing their names onto our honor
roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Behind a rusting chain link fence on Montgomery drive is the foundation of the oldest building in Santa Rosa, The Carrillo Adobe. Buried under mud, dirt and a neglected tangle of brush it was
almost forgotten. That was until, Santa Rosa High School History Teacher Dave Franzman and his History Club students uncovered and helped preserve this neglected piece of Sonoma County's past.
KZST now salutes both Dave and his students for making a difference in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank we honor them by placing their names onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
In 1983, Tom Furrer started the United Anglers of Casa Grande High School. Once upon a time, the brushy, meandering stream called Adobe Creek,
flowed clear and clean. But years of neglect, changed that once pristine stream into a graveyard of discarded appliances and box springs. Instead of hoping that
"someone" would clean it up, Tom and his students restored that environmentally dead area into the only student run fish hatchery in the United States.
The "miracle at adobe creek " was featured in Readers’ Digest and documented by noted naturalist Jane Goodall herself.
KZST now salutes Tom Furrer for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
October 28th seemed like a normal day.Eighth grader Devin Boettger was sitting with his friends, eating lunch, talking and laughing…when he inhaled
part of his lunch and was unable to breathe! That’s when “yard duty” Mici Ryberg raced toward Devin, thinking “Nobody's gonna die on MY watch!”. She grabbed
Devin, reached her arms around his choking body and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Seconds later, the color returned to his face…and he was breathing normally.
She had saved his life.
KZST now salutes Mici Ryberg for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by placing her name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Screeching tires…the crunch of metal and broken glass…then, silence.
Jim Kracke was lucky to be alive.
As he lay recovering in his hospital bed, the doctors explained what the Novato Fire Department had done to save his life. Thankful for a second chance,
Jim decided to give back, serving as a volunteer firefighter with the Glen Ellen Fire Department for over twenty years. During that time, Jim has been
honored twice for saving two lives…one was the fire chief! When personal tragedy struck and claimed the life of his brother, Jim stepped up once again,
taking his nephews under his wing…and raising them as his own.
KZST now salutes Jim Kracke for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
For every parent, there is no sweeter sound than hearing their child speak these words for the first time. Unfortunately, autism can delay that special
moment. Michelle Chastain, a speech-language pathologist at the Swain Center has helped make that dream come true for the Krawchuk family of Santa Rosa. With Michelle's love and
dedication, their son Aidan has emerged from a world of silence…to say those three priceless words.
KZST now salutes Michelle Chastain for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by placing her name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Someone who puts the needs of others first, despite their own hardships…like Kevin Fitzgerald. Imagine living on the streets of Santa Rosa, clinging to a fragile
existence, with only a small monthly disability payment to sustain you. That was Kevin Fitzgerald's world for the past quarter century. But still, this man who had
almost nothing…gave regularly to ChildFund International to help those who had even less.
Sadly, Kevin died December 17th…but others, moved by his spirit of giving, have continued to give. In memory of his generosity in the face of poverty, KZST now salutes
Kevin Fitzgerald for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Medical bills had recently wiped out John's retirement savings…and he had no dental coverage. Jose had been struggling for months to find work.
Neither one had any hope of getting the dental care they desperately needed…until Dr. Jeffrey Elliott stepped in. This February, Dr. Elliott and
his group of volunteers started early in the morning and worked into the night, providing dental services for over one hundred Sonoma County
residents…and everything was free! The success of “Dentistry with a Heart” was not measured in profits…but in smiles! KZST now salutes Dr. Jeffrey
Elliott for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our honor roll
“KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Most of us smile when we talk about our high school days…but not Joshua Cox. At five foot three and 265 pounds, every day was a struggle. Tired of
feeling awkward, unhappy, and ridiculed by his classmates, he finally had enough. It took three years of grueling workouts, but Josh lost the weight
and eventually became a personal trainer. But that's not what makes him a Hometown Hero. Noticing there were others who were also struggling, Josh
created “Hulk boot camps” to transform them from the inside out. When Josh found that a couple in his boot camp had a baby born with a heart
defect, he created Hulk Helping Hearts, a fund raising organization, and their baby boy received the care he needed. KZST now salutes Joshua
Cox for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor him by placing his name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”
Our children are our future…but when they are abused and neglected, these kids often grow up to become troubled adults. Carol Rathmann
decided to end this vicious cycle. In 1992, she created the Forget Me Not Farm, a place where at-risk kids could experience and learn kindness,
compassion and empathy…by loving and caring for animals who were themselves victims of tragedy. Watching the smiles on their faces as they
bottle-feed a baby lamb or pet Orville, the pot-bellied pig…is priceless! In fact, Carol's program has been so successful, it has been copied by
organizations all over the country. For transforming the lives of countless thousands of children, KZST now salutes Carol Rathmann for making a
difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by placing her name onto our honor roll of “KZST Hometown Heroes.”