|PSF does St. Patrick’s Day a little bit earlier with fundraising event
St. Patrick’s Day came to Penngrove two weeks ahead of schedule. On March 3, the Penngrove Social Firemen held their annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Feed at the PSF clubhouse on Woodward Avenue and raised nearly $2,500 for the community.
This was the fourth fundraising event of 2013. By the end of the year, the 124-member group will have hosted 21 separate fundraisers, and hope to earn approximately $150,000 for local causes.
These events include monthly meetings, where 60-70 members pay $10 for a dinner cooked by other members, a Truckers’ Ball in May, the July Celebration, a Hot Rod and BBQ event in late July, a luau in early September, and several fall events.
Two of PSF’s most recognizable causes are the annual July Parade and BBQ, which draws thousands of spectators from Sonoma County and beyond who want to see a slice of old-time Americana complete with fire engines, antique tractors, classic cars, restored military equipment, and mostly well-behaved horses decorated with flags and sequins. With county permit fees, and fees to the CHP, this event costs the PSF nearly $1,500 a year. They pay these costs from their fundraising activities.
The group maintains Penngrove Park, where they recently installed a large piece of play equipment with multiple sliding boards, swings, and other features. This cost more than $50,000, and was once again paid for entirely from membership funds.
PSF also donates to Penngrove Elementary School, the 4H, the FFA, and the Boy Scouts. They provide Christmas gifts for local children, and recently gave money for eye surgery to a woman who could not otherwise afford it.
Self-sufficiency is a point of pride for this all-volunteer organization. Club President Ray Soper pointed to the way most cities in Sonoma County constantly apply for state or federal grants.
He says the organization has never taken one cent of grant money, and never will.
“We do things the old-fashioned way. If we want to buy something, we go out and earn the money ourselves,” he said.
Two years ago, when PSF needed funds for new playground equipment, they held a luau in Penngrove Park that raised $52,000. This caught the attention of several county supervisors. Shirlee Zane remarked she was astounded one small organization could raise such a large amount in one event.
For their efforts, the group received a proclamation from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors that concluded “…the Board of Supervisors commends the Penngrove Social Firemen for their outstanding efforts to keep the Penngrove Park a beautiful and community-friendly recreational facility to be enjoyed by all.”
Shortly thereafter, Supervisor David Rabbitt attended a monthly meeting and dinner. In a brief speech, he said. “I wish everything in Sonoma County worked this well. We’d be in a lot better shape.”
The Penngrove Social Firemen are an all-volunteer group, with no official relationship to the Rancho Adobe Fire District, although they have a cordial relationship with the district. Current membership is 90 men and 34 women, who pay $50 annual dues each, and are required to work a minimum of eight hours a year for the organization. Many members work far more than the minimum.
More information and membership applications can be found at www.penngrovesocialfiremen.org.