Once a year, the Cotati Chamber of Commerce holds an event to honor those who have given above and beyond either through helping make the community a better place to live and work or by giving to the chamber itself. This year, the first groups that came to mind were easy. As others have done in the last couple of months, the chamber chooses to honor the Rancho Adobe Fire District and the Cotati Police Department. Additionally, they will honor Stefanie Richardson, super volunteer as Citizen of the Year as well as chamber members the Cotati Large & Small Animal Hospitals which holds the distinction of the longest running Cotati chamber members (60 years!). To that we say “Woo-Hoo!”
The first responders being honored fought the fires in October, notified, lead and carried out evacuations—sometimes by losing something of their own—helping keep communities as safe as possible. The chamber thanks them for their bravery, commitment and sacrifices and awards these first responders the Hometown Heroes Award for exemplary service during the fires and every day before and since.
The Cotati Chamber of Commerce is relatively small, much like the city itself. But both are uniquely appropriate for the area and the community. While small, the chamber has survived, perhaps with a few bumps, for 60 years, of which we are very proud. And for at least 30 or so of those years, business manager of the Cotati Veterinary Hospital, Bill Kroft, wrote a check to the chamber for dues each and every year. Veterinarians Dr. Groverman, Dr. Cook and Dr. Harlin tell stories of the great team they had and how the two adjacent and related hospitals were one in the beginning, started by them and Cotati citizen and vet Dr. Bill Kortum who was instrumental in forming this partnership with the other docs. Eventually the needs of each were different enough to have their own identities, but they’re still connected by history and vocation as well as location, on Hwy. 116 in Cotati. We honor long-term chamber members the Cotati Large & Small Animal Hospitals.
The chamber’s Citizen of the Year is Stefanie Richardson, a Cotati native. On Monday Oct. 9, the day after the horrific fires devastated our communities, Stefanie was frustrated that relief was slow in coming via the traditional organizations. So she went into action developing the website socofirerelief.com. Its mission is to organize and coordinate the delivery of donations to any individuals affected by the Wine Country Fires. On her website, one can find wish lists and links to GoFundMe Accounts of families directly impacted; up-to-date information on evacuation centers and donation drop offs; volunteer information; access to hot meal delivery plus open and ready to eat food. Stefanie reached out to the food banks and shelters in order to secure donations. She helped direct people in need to a nearby warehouse she had secured in Santa Rosa. With a team of volunteers, she sorted through a plethora of donations that came from nearby and as far away as Humboldt, San Diego, and Texas! In addition, she established a holiday family adoption program and helped facilitate a wish list creation via Amazon registry.
The community is invited to attend the awards dinner on Jan. 20 (you don’t have to live in Cotati). The chamber is asking for sponsorships for the police and fire personnel who did their very best to protect the county from the October fires, but also look out for the community every day. If interested in sponsoring one or more of these heroes ($30 each), please contact the chamber. While the chamber would like to sponsor them all, the resources just don’t exist and feel the community may be interested in stepping in.
Questions? Contact the Chamber at (707) 795-5508, firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by 216 E. School St. in Cotati. The office is open Monday-Wednesday and Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.