Nonprofit Matters - Dr. B.J. Bischoff

Thank volunteers with “Spirit of the Valley Award” nomination

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community. They give tirelessly of themselves in the service of others. And they receive nothing more than a simple “thank you,” a smile on the face of someone they’ve helped, or that inner satisfaction of knowing that they have helped to make the world just a little bit better.

Some people volunteer to give back to society or take on a new challenge, while some volunteer to meet new people or learn new skills. There are as many reasons as there are volunteers. But the one thing that’s common to all nonprofit volunteers is that they all deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to serving others.

The Sonoma Sun is providing an opportunity for you to nominate someone who deserves to be honored for his or her commitment to serving the Sonoma Valley through volunteer service to others.  Called the Spirit of the Valley, this award will be presented to “the unsung heroes, the people who are making a difference in our community,” according to Val Robichaud, The Sun’s editor.

During this season of giving, The Sun is encouraging you to give the gift of appreciation to our community volunteers by taking a few minutes to nominate someone for the Spirit of the Valley award. The nomination process is an easy one. All that’s needed is to submit a letter, limited to 500 words, describing what the volunteer does, his or her commitment to the mission of the organization served, and how that volunteer’s effort has made a difference in our community. All nominations should be received by January 10 via email to (subject: Nomination) or by mail to Sonoma Sun, 1051-F Broadway, Sonoma CA 95476 (write Nomination on the envelope).

You already know who these volunteers are because you see them every day. They’re your neighbors who have mentored the same at-risk children for years. They’re your cousins who coach youth team sports. They’re the people down the street who drive seniors to their medical appointments. They’re the teens who prepare meals that are delivered to those who are struggling through chemotherapy treatments. They’re the newcomers to town who have started tutoring middle school children to prepare them to be the first in their family to attend college. They’re the empty-nesters who bake birthday cakes for young children who are grieving the death of a family member. They’re the retired realtors, bankers, teachers, and business owners who now help to raise money for our Valley’s nonprofits. Because you know these amazing volunteers and see how they change lives, you are uniquely qualified to nominate them for the Spirit of the Valley award.

Cami Weaver, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, is supportive of the Spirit of the Valley award and is committed to recognizing community volunteers throughout the county. The 40-year old nonprofit she leads conducts an ongoing Volunteer of the Month program to continuously show appreciation for those who serve others selflessly. She said, “Volunteers are only deeply satisfied when they know that the time they are contributing is making an impact. Community-based service agencies have told us that they appreciate our third-party recognition of their volunteers, as it adds to the special recognition that they deserve.”  She added, “Public recognition allows for acknowledgement that volunteering makes a big difference in our community.”

After we receive your nominations, a committee of local community leaders that I will chair will work together to select the recipients of the first Spirit of the Valley award. The Sun will announce the award recipients by the end of January. We look forward to receiving your nominations and to reading the stories you send us describing the extraordinary work of your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who spend countless hours volunteering to make Sonoma Valley the special place that it is.

Dr. B.J. Bischoff owns Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, a Sonoma firm that builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public sector agencies to better serve their stakeholders. She is President of Impact100 Sonoma, leads the Sonoma Valley Presidents Council and serves on the Sonoma Upstream Investments Portfolio Review Committee as an appointee of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Contact her at

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