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article imageOp-Ed: 'Star Wars' is the theme of this year's fundraiser for Petaluma Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jan 25, 2016 in Lifestyle
Petaluma - Even if winters here in California are mild compared to the East Coast as blizzards cause problems, the importance of a hot meal and a connection to the outside world for a shut-in senior is extremely vital.
This is why Petaluma People Services Center is getting things ready for its annual fundraiser this coming March at AMF Boulevard Lanes bowling alley. This reporter got PPSC Executive Director, Elece Hempel to say a few words about the event and what it means to the long-standing social services outreach center, which has been in existence for over 45 years.
"The Rock n’ Bowl is a fun way for business and the community help raise money for all of PPSC programs," she said. "Participants form a team of five bowlers, then each team member raises money. Some teams like Bank of Marin, have bake sales in their branches and use that to help raise the $625, some people just ask their friend to donate as a sponsor." The $625 seems like a lot. But as Hempel pointed out "each team member could raise $125 to cover their portion." And in other situations, people wishing to participate, "just have their companies sponsor their teams."
 That s my son  Ethan  on the right   says  Petaluma People Services volunteer  Steve Rustad.  He wa...
"That's my son, Ethan, on the right," says, Petaluma People Services volunteer, Steve Rustad. "He was 12 at the time." (About 20 years ago) Rustad is now serving on the Petaluma People Services Board of Directors. He values the Meals on Wheels program because it is vital to the community.
Courtesy of Steve Rustad
Local business owner Steve Rustad believes very strongly in the outreach that Petaluma People Services does. He owns Rustad Marketing in town. "I've been an ardent supporter of PPSC since my wife and I moved our family here to Petaluma in 1994.
"At the time," he said, "We were seeking a charitable activity that we could involve our children in. And quickly we settled on driving 'Meals on Wheels.' My son and two daughters all participated for many years and, hopefully learned something about the value of volunteering he said; which includes the importance of charity and the impact they could have on their community."
Rustad and Minute Man Press of Petaluma provided the theme-related design motifs, flyers and promotional materials for the event. I've attended the last two Rock 'N" Bowls. Though I'm not a bowler, I'm great at cheering 'from the bleachers,' he said. Additionally, I've contributed artwork for the posters for the last two year's events."
But more importantly, Rustad explained, "I joined Board of Directors. Because, he said I wanted to do more to support PPSC's efforts and especially the Director, Elece Hemple, who I feel is one of the most effective leaders of any Community Based Organization in the county - if not Northern California."
The annual bowling fundraiser has been held every year for 25 years. In previous years, Hempel noted the turnout has always been great and a wonderful show of support from the community. "We always try to have a theme each year, especially one that is reverent, and this year it is 'Star Wars.' We usually have 25-30 teams," she said. "This year we would like to fill the bowling ally - completely, so 45 teams would be great."
Hempel also noted. "The day of the event people arrive between 7:00 and 7:30 PM, turn in their sponsorship, get their shoes, gather with their team – they usually have great names, and they dress as a team. We bowl in the dark so we give them glow items and then they can also request music by making donations."
The bowling fundraiser is something the business community can also have fun with. For Claudia Levindofske of Bank of Marin, fundraisers like this are a good opportunity to show support to the community. It is also a time for local businesses and merchants to build community - getting better acquainted. And if possible form bonds that help foster an empowered, healthy and happy community.
Levindofske noted that the Bank of Marin has participated previously as she said. "Bank of Marin will be on the lanes for 'Lane Wars.' We have participated in Rock and Bowl in past years and are excited to toss some 'laser- fast' balls down the lanes."
Hempel noted, "$10,000 is what our goal is, for this year. This fundraiser helps us cover the cost of programs that don’t have 100 percent of grant funding, she added. "For example our senior services programs like meals on wheels – we only get enough county funding to cover about half of the programs; the rest of the money comes from other grants and community donations."
 This is our Senior Café where seniors come Monday thru Friday for meals   said Executive Director ...
"This is our Senior Café where seniors come Monday thru Friday for meals," said Executive Director Elece Hempel. Meals on Wheels is one of the vital outreach services Petaluma People Services provides to the community
by Elece Hempel, Courtesy of Petaluma People Serives
In keeping with the purpose of the bowling event, Hempel said.
"With each roll of the bowling ball, you will make a difference in the life of a hungry homebound senior.
With each song you sing while bowling with your team, will help a teen make good decisions about the path they are on. With a crash of the pins you, will ensure that a hungry family will be fed fresh and healthy vegetables.
Sing along and participate if you can, and you will help a Petaluma family get the counseling they need to live in peace."
"Or, simply cheer for a strike (on the sidelines) and you will know that you have helped someone suffering with Alzheimer continue to live with a loved one."
"A spare gives a teen that has given up on life the encouragement and opportunity to find a job, continue their education and make peace with their parents. (And, this helps build the future for all of society).
Stomp your feet to the beat and help a family gets assistance in finding a safe and secure home.
Even a gutter ball will help a lonely senior find someone to talk with," said Hempel.
As a Board member Rustsad is committed to helping his community, through the work of Petaluma People Services Center. "We're currently working on an effort to raise awareness of the many programs that PPSC runs, of which most of our community are sadly unaware."
The annual Rock N' Bowl fundraiser will be on March 18, at the AMF Boulevard Lanes bowling alley at 1100 Petaluma Boulevard South in downtown Petaluma. To learn more about Petaluma People Services Center and to participate in the annual bowling fundraiser visit the special page at the Petaluma People Services web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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