Sometime in April a dark shadow fell over the community when Project Graduation discovered their funds had been embezzled, and many high school seniors would not be enjoying the traditional night of fun and frivolity to mark their graduation.
The community would have to pool their resources and work hard to salvage the Project Graduation for the 2017 seniors, but they were up to the challenge.
Thinking caps were put on, and many projects were brainstormed that would help bring happiness to the senior graduating classes. The Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers teamed up with the school to throw a pancake breakfast where the proceeds from the tickets would go towards replacing the stolen funds.
The Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association managed to put things together within three weeks, and May 13 was an exciting day with volunteers from diverse areas of the community coming together at around 6 a.m. to set up the tables and chairs, starting the big burners early to make the pancakes and keep the sausages warm. The sausages and some of the tables were generously donated by Sally Tomatoes. Soon, the driveway of the fire station was overflowing with residents that came to partake of the pancakes and sausages, baked goods, and raffle prizes. Most endearing were 2 beautiful hand painted fire helmets which were given by an anonymous donor.
Captain Jeff Nicks of the RPPD gave a pep talk, thanking everyone for being so supportive. He was amazed at the outpouring of moms and dads, local business people, and the parents of former graduates and current students. Donations were brought to the fire station, many of them as a way of saying “thank you” for all the good work the department was doing. Donations of food were and prizes were made, along with a beautiful hand crocheted blanket. Private citizens and rotary clubs pitched in to help out with money and volunteering, as well.
Nicks said the number of businesses he had to thank were almost too numerous to mention. But included: The City of Rohnert Park, Sonoma County Waste Management, and the Sonoma County Airport Express.
Nicks added, “The community has proven that when adversity comes, we can overcome anything.”
We have proven that we can take this incident and turn a negative into a positive.
The RPPSOA’s breakfast raised $27,714 and the Gofundme site after processing fees, showed a balance of $13,057.51. PayPal also showed $92.01 was donated. All links from the Gofundme and PayPal have been removed from the Project grad’s website. The Project grad bank balance before the prior donations and any other collections is $30,746.35. The above amounts have totaled $71,609.87. The Project grad organization wishes to thank each and everyone who helped in anyway. Your kindness has shown how a community can pull together.