Sonoma County Tourism Cares
Get involved with us within our community to give back and show that the Sonoma County tourism industry cares. Contact Nicole Bradin at [email protected] for more information on how to get involved.
Nearly 80 Sonoma County hospitality professionals celebrated National Tourism Week (May 6-12) by volunteering an estimated 291 hours with three organizations: Redwood Empire Foodbank, LandPaths, and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
This year saw a 16 percent increase in hours volunteered and a 28 percent increase in the number of volunteers over last year’s inaugural Tourism Cares event, explained Nicole Bradin, director of community engagement for Sonoma County Tourism.
“Tourism Cares is a great way to show our hospitality industry is part of the Sonoma County community,” Bradin added. “Volunteer opportunities gave individuals the chance to learn more about the important nonprofits that support our citizens and let us help make Sonoma County a better community for all.”
“Voluntourism” or “Volunteer Tourism” is a form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, typically for a local charity. It is a rewarding way to give back to Sonoma County while you are here for a vacation, conference, your high school reunion, a business trip or visiting friends and family. Tag us at #SonomaCounty to share your voluntourism stories and photos!
The Webster family (from left, Tanya, Doug, Tali, and Dawson) loads food boxes at the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Photo by Will Bucquoy.
When Doug and Tanya Webster and their two children, Tali (age 11) and Dawson (15) boarded an airplane Dec. 23, 2017, heading to Northern California from Iowa, they had one plan: to lend a helping hand to the folks who were devastated by the October 2017 wildfires.
On their "voluntourism" visit to Sonoma County, the Websters sorted donations at the Redwood Gospel Mission, loaded food boxes and sorted perishables at the Redwood Food Bank, carried boxes on moving day for the re-opening of John B. Riebli Elementary School, and helped with erosion control for the Sonoma County Ecology Center.
By the time the Websters left for their home town of Sigourney, Iowa on Jan. 3, they had spent nine days doing what they could for those in need, all at their own expense.
Sonoma County Tourism celebrates the Websters for their generous donation of time and care. "By sharing the stories of visitors who support our community, we hope to encourage others to give 'voluntourism' a chance," said Nicole Bradin, SCT's director of community engagement.
Study Shows Tourism Businesses Support Local Communities
Sonoma County’s tourism businesses do more than just provide visitors with welcoming hospitality, farm-fresh dining, luxurious accommodations, and one-of-a-kind attractions. These businesses support local communities by donating time, in-kind gifts, and cash donations.
Sonoma County Tourism commissioned Economic Forensics and Analytics to conduct a study of hospitality businesses and their philanthropic endeavors within the region.
Sonoma County Tourism Cares News:
Current Volunteer Opportunities:
Help us prepare food for Sonoma Family Meal's weekly distribution to families who are still displaced from the October 2017 wildfires. Practice your kitchen skills while helping your community: slicing, dicing and cooking. Home cooks are welcome. Please wear closed-toe, slip-resistant shoes; a cap (we'll provide you with a Tourism Cares hat at the event); and an apron. If you do not have an apron, one will be provided for you at the volunteer event.
Past Sonoma County Tourism Cares Events:
Petaluma Visitors Center - August 15, 2018
Grace Nistler (L), Susan Villa (C), and other volunteers move wood chips to planting areas at the Petlauma Visitors Center.
210 Lakeville St, Petaluma, CA
We pulled out weeds and dead plants, added new soil, planted new plants, and spread wood chips in contained planting areas to beautify The Petaluma Visitors Center, which is housed in a 1914 yellow train depot next to the new SMART train platform.
Redwood Empire Food Bank- May 7, 2018
Left, Maria Dougherty of Paradise Ridge Winery, Ann Possinger of Sonoma County Orchid Society and Volunteer, Barbara Cox of Sonoma County Vintners, and Gilda Gonzalez of Sonoma County Tourism help out at Redwood Empire Food Bank.
3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa, CA
We helped Redwood Empire Food Bank in their efforts to end hunger in our communities. Volunteer activities included: gleaning through produce, boxing non-perishable items, and sorting through donated food items.
LandPaths at the Riddell Preserve - May 9, 2018
From left, Gianna Kaya Cacci, Stacey Washburn, and Aubry Horne, all from Oxford Suites Sonoma County in Rohnert Park volunteer to help clear overgrown brush at Landpath's Riddell Preserve.
550 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA
We helped LandPaths with trail building, so that Riddell Preserve can be opened for greater access to visitors, residents, school groups and other educational programs. The volunteer work combined habitat restoration, fire risk management, and trail building.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore - May 11, 2018
Left, Sierra Downey of Sonoma County Tourism and Nate Baker of Sonoma County Economic Development Board/Sonoma County Tourism lend a hand at Tourism Cares Habitat.
1201 Piner Rd #500 Santa Rosa, CA
We helped Sonoma County's 17,000 sq. ft. discount home improvement store organize new and gently-used building materials and furniture. All operating profits from ReStore sales support Habitat’s build programs, including post-fire rebuild projects, and some items donated to ReStore are used in Habitat homes and projects. While making home improvement affordable for consumers, the store reduces the amount of waste that goes into the landfill.
Redwood Empire Food Bank - December 28 & 29, 2017
3990 Brickway Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
We helped to repackage food, prepare and package frozen meals, and distributed food at various locations in Sonoma County to our neighbors who have been affected by the fires.
Palms Inn Work Day for Homeless Housing - May 8, 2017
Palms Work Day, 3345 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa
Supported by Habitat for Humanity. The Palms is a converted lodging property serving the homeless and veterans.
Riverfront Regional Park Improve Redwood Grove Area - May 8, 2017
Riverfront Regional Park, 7821 Eastside Road, Healdsburg
Worked with park staff to spread mulch, remove invasive plants and install fencing. Tools, gloves, water and snacks were provided, plus free parking.
Goatlandia - May 9, 2017
Goatlandia, 2336 Olivet Road, Santa Rosa
Goatlandia Farm Animal Sanctuary - build and clean day!
Time to brush the animals and also learn about living a compassionate lifestyle.
CAP Headstart - May 9, 2017
CAP Head Start, 141 Stony Circle, Suite 210, Santa Rosa
Helped them finish up school! Helped with school packets, copy/collate, cut/laminating.
Pepperwood Preserve trail work and exotic species removal - May 10, 2017
Pepperwood Preserve, 2130 Pepperwood Preserve Rd., Santa Rosa
You will be working outdoors, bring water, work gloves and wear sturdy shoes. Snacks provided.
The Pony Express Rocks - Arena beautification - fence repair, paint & vegetation removal - May 11, 2017
The Pony Express Rocks, 6413 Sonoma Hwy., in Santa Rosa
Supporting at-risk youth where horses are used as teachers, healers and agents of change.
Spring Lake Park Invasive Plant Removal - May 10, 2017
Spring Lake Park , 393 Violetti Drive, Santa Rosa
Worked with park staff to remove invasive plants. Tools, gloves, water and snacks were provided, plus free parking.
LITE Initiatives: Living lightly with bicycles
Lite Initiative (Community Bikes), 4019 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa
Size & inventory bikes. No experience necessary.
Doran Park Beach Clean Up - May 13, 2017
Doran Park, 201 Doran Beach Road, Bodega Bay
Worked with park staff to clean two miles of beach. Tools, gloves, water and snacks provided. Plus free parking.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, May 13, 2017
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, 610 Wilson Rd., Santa Rosa
Served meals to homeless; set up and clean up too. Closed toed shoes required. Volunteer application and emergency contact information.
Volunteers also received nifty Sonoma County Tourism Cares T-shirt in addition to the good feeling that comes with being a part of a giving community.