|Meet Yvonne Van Dyke Ė Cotatiís top ambassador
Retired for three years, Van Dyke hasnít slowed down as she volunteers to serve at just about every major event held in Cotati
Yvonne Van Dyke had no idea what was coming.
She was preparing for her first trip to Europe…Switzerland, to be exact. She also had informed those who needed to know she would be unable to attend the Cotati Chamber of Commerce’s annual crab feed or the organization’s awards dinner.
A little later that week, Chamber President Patrick McCarty and Suzanne Whipple came by her place and handed her an envelope.
When she read the contents, she said, “It totally caught me off guard.”
The envelope contained a certificate acknowledging Van Dyke as Cotati’s Ambassador of the Year.
“He knew I wouldn’t be able to be there, so he made sure a plaque was made and available for the first board meeting…that was nice,” Van Dyke said.
Helping events run well
Considering how much of her time Van Dyke has given to making sure some of Cotati’s biggest events – Kids Day, the Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest, Cotati’s 50th anniversary – run smoothly, the honor is well deserved. She also volunteers at the Thursday night Cotati Farmers Markets. One can also find Van Dyke behind the desk at the Cotati Historical Society, of which she serves as treasurer.
She said one of her projects right now is preparing for the annual Cotati Historical Society’s sixth annual Old-fashioned Chicken Barbeque.
Her reason for volunteering is simple, and it’s a feeling she shares with the people she works with.
“We’re proud of where we live and who we know,” she said.
Switzerland may have been the most distant place she’s traveled, but the self-described Army brat – her father was in the military – has seen her share of the United States. She was born in Arkansas and made stops in Denver and San Francisco along the way.
She came to Cotati with her husband, Donald, more than 20 years ago. Donald passed away in 2007. Van Dyke has one biological daughter and four step-children.
Daughter’s unique commute
The trip to Switzerland was for the purpose of visiting her daughter, Kim Jellicoe, who has a unique traveling arrangement for work. Jellicoe works for biotechnology company Genentech, where she works for two weeks in Switzerland, returns to Petaluma for a week and then returns to Switzerland for two more weeks of work, and so on.
Van Dyke retired from her job in Petaluma as an accountant/bookkeeper three years ago after working there for 27 years. Retirement doesn’t mean Van Dyke has slowed down…far from it. Her latest involvement is one she finds interesting because she’s learning so many new things.
She’s currently Cotati’s trustee and vice president for the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito Vector District. Next year, she’ll ascend to president. She’s been with the district for three years. Each city in Sonoma and Marin counties has a representative to the district.
New respect for mosquitos
“I come from background of numbers, doing accounting and bookkeeping,” Van Dyke said. “Vector Control is a totally different twist for me. Instead of working with people and numbers, I’m learning about mosquitos and ticks. I have a different respect of mosquitos. It’s been a very good experience. I’m liking it because it’s totally different than the traditional type of knowledge people get.”
She said she recently attended a funeral, where she saw a number of empty plant containers. Immediately, she thought of her new endeavor.
“All those containers with no plants are breeding grounds for mosquitos,” she said. “That’s something I would not have known had I not been with vector control. And what’s great is that headquarters are right here in Cotati because this is the center point from Cloverdale to Sausalito.”
Van Dyke said she’s taken the three trips she’s wanted to take in the past year – Switzerland, Chicago for a week and a cruise. She has no travels on her docket any time soon.
“I’m looking forward to doing nothing and not going anywhere,” she said. “I like the town I live in, and I’m just wanting to be local for a while.”