Hometown Heroes

VICTORIA CAHILL

One in sixty-eight American children has some form of autism. Victoria Cahill's brother has it, too. But what Victoria did, as her senior project at Windsor High School, has changed much more than only her brother's life.

She realized that special students like him felt left out of school events that the rest of us took for granted. Because Victoria enjoyed her high school prom so much, she took inspiration from her brother to create the "Justin Cahill Special Needs Prom," and over the last four years, hundreds of students have had the chance to experience THEIR senior prom, making memories that will last a lifetime. KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now add Victoria Cahill to our list of Hometown Heroes.

Rosanne Gephart

It's 3 AM. The phone rings. Someone in Sonoma County is about to give birth, and Rosanne Gephart is there to help. She wasn't happy with the way mothers and their babies were treated during and after childbirth, so nine years ago, Rosanne created Better Beginnings, a non-profit organization that has provided help for hundreds of women who are having difficult labors, young moms, and moms without family support. She also manages Better Beginnings' free breastfeeding support program, which provides in-home visits and several support clinics or "breastfeeding cafes."

For Rosanne, "peace on Earth begins with birth!" KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now add Rosanne Gephart to our list of Hometown Heroes.

DJ Woodbury

The eighteen-mile long Petaluma River is an important wildlife habitat. It's also a favorite spot for sixth grader DJ Woodbury and his dad, who cherish the time they spend together fishing, checking out swans, or enjoying a lazy ride in their 16-foot aluminum boat.

When DJ, a student at Live Oak Charter School, was assigned a community project, he remembered seeing garbage floating along the banks of the river and decided this was the perfect opportunity to help. Over the next three months, DJ and his dad filled their boat with more than a ton of televisions, tires, tennis balls, bottles, cans...and even used syringes!

For making Sonoma County a better place to live, KZST and Sam's for Play Cafe now add DJ Woodbury to our list of Hometown Heroes.

Northern California Fires

The Northern California fires have changed our lives forever. But where would we have been without people like:

 

  • Jake Lockler, whose quick thinking saved seven lives the first night of the Tubbs Fire?

  • Jen Huot, a home supervisor at Sutter Hospital, who made the decision to evacuate the building and personally went up on the roof with a fire extinguisher;

  • Preston Addison and his fellow farmers who made a stand to stop the advance of the Pocket Fire;

  • Chris Diaz and his fellow officers who spent five hours knocking on doors and clearing out residents;

  • Mason Williams, who arrived at his grandmother's home at 3 AM to evacuate her to safety. She would never have been able to escape the flames on her own!

  • Art Perera, who took it upon himself to battle the Coffey (like Coffee) fires before the first responders could arrive;

  • Gail Hughes, the manager of Carl's Jr. on Airport Blvd., who went out of her way to keep the restaurant open, so that the evacuees would have a place to go;

  • Heather Irwin, restaurant columnist who created the nonprofit "Sonoma Family Meal" to bring families displaced by the fires together with hundreds of chefs who desperately wanted to help;

  • and Kayla Cook, who networked, called, emailed and texted every possible shelter, center and space to help those with special needs.

KZST and Sam's For Play Cafe now salute these brave people, as well as the firefighters, volunteers, law enforcement officers, and many other unsung Hometown Heroes who kept us safe and gave us hope.

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