Russian River Valley News

Buddy Russell, Russian River Pride Co-Chair with Cleve Jones

Buddy Russell, Russian River Pride Co-Chair with Cleve Jones

Russian River Valley News
Community Support Comes from Within
By Vesta Copestakes
April 2024

What makes home FEEL like “HOME”? “The people who live here” is probably the best answer. 

We choose our home for many reasons: proximity to jobs, housing, neighborhoods, schools for our kids, etc. But the one thing that makes us put down roots is how we FEEL. That comes from people who share our values, who we interact with, etc. And if we volunteer in our communities, we get to know people intimately because we share so much time accomplishing common goals.

Local heroes stand out because of their service to others. This fall Cleve Jones, LGBTQ+ Rights and AIDS Activist, worked with the newly reborn Russian River Pride non profit to bring Guerneville’s Pride Parade and party back to town after a 6-year absence in order to raise money for vital local services. Through the event and donor sponsors, they raised over $80,000 to support local nonprofits that serve the entire community.

I recently attended a dinner event at Dawn Ranch in Guerneville (exceptionally delicious!) where Russian River Pride distributed $6,500 checks to local groups who serve our Lower Russian River area:

  • Watch Duty Wildfire Alert Systema service that provides vital information during emergencies powered by volunteer firefighters, dispatchers, and first responders – who monitor scanners and other official sources 24/7 provide the most up-to-date information via the Watch Duty app. INFO:
  • Food for Thought Food Bank – supplies more than 325,000 meals per year at no charge to qualified clients who are at risk of malnutrition. Services eliminate food insecurity, reduce hospital visits and medical expenses, and improve clients’ health and quality of life. INFO:
  • Guerneville Regional Library –  offering books, programs, and library services to the largest geographical area of all Sonoma County Library branches. This library supports children to adults through educational programs as well as provides internet access to those who can’t get service at home. INFO:
  • Russian River Alliance Workforce Fund – has a direct impact on the lives of working families, residents, and businesses in the Lower Russian River community by providing emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness. Gift cards for food from local businesses, to paying vital service bills, the Workforce Fund keeps people stable during instability in their lives. INFO:
  • Russian River Youth Center – Josh and Melody Rogers became inspired to open up a Youth Center to give local young people a place to participate in healthy activities and empower them through programs that foster lifelong healthy habits, resilience and a sense of hope and belonging. The center offers health and wellness activities, education, individual mentoring and through family and community-centric activities. INFO:

Funding these nonprofits makes their missions easier since so much energy goes into financially supporting their good work. With this help, volunteers have more time to focus on the reasons they commit energy into their community. Please visit their websites listed above to learn more about what they do so you can help them help others. 

To learn more about Russian River Pride which is in the process of forming their own 501c3, please visit The new board consists of Buddy Russell and Dan Samson, Co-Chairs; Pablo Monzon; Jeannine Luna; Bob Morrison; Betsy Van Dyke; Dave Hall; and Andre Ward. Committee member Jim Hendrickson organized the dinner and award ceremony. Plans for a 2024 “River Proud” event are forming now. Russian River Pride is back home!———————————-

This column has been reprinted with the permission of Neighbors of the Russian River Valley.*

* River Valley News column will be published in the April 2024 Neighbors of the Russian River Valley (Best Version Media), a monthly magazine distributed to neighbors in the Russian River Valley. Reprinted with permission. For more info, go to their Facebook page, here.

Board Meetings

• 1st Tuesday of mo.
• 5:30 – 7:30 PM
• In-Person at:
6550 Railroad Ave., Forestville
• Via Zoom: Get Link
• For more info, contact:
Board President,
Lucy Hardcastle
Everyone welcome.