700 people attend the annual fundraiser at Richard’s Grove
By Tim Tesconi
There were 700 people at the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County’s BBQ and “Fun”draiser held on Sept. 15 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor where more than $128,000 in gross revenues was raised to help support 4-H young activities and the 4-H Center in Rohnert Park.
“This year's "4-H...Road to Success" Fundraiser was a total success.,” said Susan Hansen, executive director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County. “Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard continues to be an idyllic setting that never loses its charm. Topping it off was perfect weather to match the beautiful setting.”
The event honored Ron Carli, president and chief executive officer of American AgCredit, with the 2012 4-H Alumni Recognition Award. The award, presented annually by the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County, honors a former Sonoma County 4-H Club member who on a daily basis upholds the values of leadership, citizenship and community service that are the hallmarks of the 4-H program.
Growing up, Carli was a member of the Petaluma 4-H Club. His primary 4-H project was registered Jersey dairy cattle.
John Cornolo, 81, a director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County, received the 4-H Foundation’s Shining Star Award, which recognizes a person who has made significant contributions to the Foundation and 4-H Club work. Cornolo, known as “Mr. Fixit,” has donated countless hours maintaining the 4-H center in Rohnert Park and, for decades, volunteered at the 4-H Chickenque.
Hansen said guests at the 4-H Foundation BBQ were treated to 4-H displays and demonstrations, animal projects, plenty of fun games-of-chance, almost 300 silent auction items, and more than 20 live auction that ranged from a trip to Maui to a backyard chicken coop. Dinner was Lombardi’s delicious tri-tip and chicken with all the fixings, followed up by ice cream from Screamin’ Meme’s Ice Cream in Sebastopol and cookies baked by Piner High School’s culinary students.
Hansen said attendance was up over last year and guests generously opened their wallets to help support the 4-H Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to 4-H club members. The foundation also operates the 4-H Center in Rohnert Park.
Hansen said the success of the barbecue shows the community has its priorities straight by supporting youth development, which is Sonoma County’s future.
“Our Fund-a-Need scholarship drive of the night brought in more than $8,000 for 4-H scholarhships,” said Hansen. “The community support for our local 4-H program remains as strong as ever. New families continue to recognize the value of this wonderful youth development program.”
The theme, “4-H – the Road to Success” was carried out with a display featuring the vintage farm pickup owned by American AgCredit. The green pickup was filled with pumpkins and was the colorful backdrop for family portraits taken by Brenda Hawkes of Hawkes Photography.
Saralee McClelland Kunde, a director of the 4-H Foundation and chairwoman of the fundraiser held at her ranch, was a tremendous success financially and in community outreach and goodwill for the 4-H program.
“We were blessed with perfect, fall-like weather for the barbecue. People stayed and enjoyed a beautiful evening in the Russian River Valley. The event shows the widespread community support for 4-H and the 4-H legacy in Sonoma County,” said Kunde. “The event has become a reunion for many people who were 4-H members in their youth. It’s so gratifying to see the continued support for a program that means so much to so many in Sonoma County.”
Kunde is a former 4-H club member herself and a generous benefactor to the 4-H program. She and her husband Richard Kunde donated their Richard’s Grove, a private park, as the venue for the barbecue and activities.
Petaluma veterinarian Fred Groverman, president of the 4-H Foundation, said the benefit barbecue not only raised funds for the 4-H Foundation but community awareness about the 4-H program in Sonoma County and its value to youth.
The barbecue attracted generations of former 4-H Club members who came together for what has become an annual reunion for those who wore the classic white and green uniform over the last 78 years. Sonoma County’s first 4-H Club was chartered in 1934.
Many of today’s leaders in agriculture and business are proud to call themselves 4-H alumni.
The barbecue will be held the same time next year at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard.