Kenwood Press

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Village Chat: 11/15/2014

Village Chat

Our “Journey to Harvest” writer, George MacLeod, has plenty of reason to be proud of his family and their offspring, but did you know that George has another family? No, it's not anything scandalous! For years, George and his good friend Bob McDonald sent money to the family of George's vineyard worker Juan Mendoza to pay for his children's education. When George first met the family in Michoacán, the children were still in grade school, and public schools in Mexico only went as far as the eighth grade. He recently passed along a letter from Juan's daughter Esme, and you'll see why he's bursting at the seams about the Mendoza children and their accomplishments. Here are a few excerpts:

“Everything is good in my professional life. Recently I won a prize for my doctoral thesis and I am a member of Sistema Nacional de Investigadores Mexicanos. It is like an elite group of researchers in México. Finally I start to see the good results of all my effort and work. Now I am doing a post-Ph.D. at CIQA (Advanced Chemistry Research Center) in Saltillo. I am really happy and proud of my job. Definitely it was not possible without McDonald and MacLeod Friends. It is a true that all the academic accomplishments that Mendoza's Girls obtained are thanks to you!

“Angelica wants to study a new career for teaching in junior school, she loves teaching. In general she and her family are fine. Veronica is the principal in a small team that sells Mary Kay products ... Mireya is watching her baby at home. Santiago is one year old and recently starts walking his first walks. She is for the moment not working. Her husband (Tony) is a hardworking and very responsible man. Little Angelina is working in a kindergarten … She is very happy and is an excellent teacher with a lot of patience for her little students. Ricardo is a student and helping my Mom at the store.”

As George says, “What are the odds - children of a father who cannot read or write and a mother with two years of elementary school and income from grape growing work??? Look at the progress of this large family, funded in part with small cash subsidies over a 20-year project by George and Bob. Enough to bring tears to an old man.” Indeed.

LeAnn Thornton, USO Volunteer of the Year
Another very proud parent is Marina Crosariol. Marina and the late Leo Crosariol moved to Kenwood 25 years ago. Recently their daughter LeAnn Thornton was honored as the USO Volunteer of the Year for the entire United States! LeAnn was recognized, along with six other Service Members of the Year, at the 2014 USO Gala on Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C. Here's some of what they said about her:

“Dedicated to providing support to everyone from a young Marine stranded by last minute travel changes to a family navigating an unfamiliar airport on the most difficult day of their life, LeAnn Thornton is always by the side of our troops and their families.

“She is a respected member of the Families of the Fallen team at USO Bay Area and has assisted every single family that has passed through the center this year, rarely missing a mission in the last five years. Her compassion, respect and ability to do what is needed make her an invaluable connection for the families.”

LeAnn lives in South San Francisco where she is a full time employee at the Hillsborough Police Department as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Police. Her father Leo was a 30-year police officer for the South San Francisco Police Department and a veteran of the Korean War as a medic. Marina feels that his service to our country has encouraged LeAnn to work so devotedly for the USO. She also reports that Veteran's Day found LeAnn putting flags on the graves of veterans - that's just the kind of person she is. Congratulations, and thank you for your service, LeAnn!

Why is it that the most heroic people are the usually the most humble, too? Gannon Orton of Kenwood was driving along Highway 101 through Santa Rosa on the morning of Oct. 26 when he saw a motorcycle go down ahead of him, sliding across the road and into the guard rail. Gannon stopped to help, climbing over a fence and down to the creek below where motorcyclist Mike Shea ended up, unconscious and face down in the water. A man who was jogging by and a homeless man under the bridge were already trying to save Shea, and the three men took off his helmet, and tried to position him so he could breathe. According to his wife Jennifer, Gannon “fished a bunch of gunk” out of the man's mouth and moved his tongue aside to clear the airway, and then he rubbed Shea's chest until he started to cough up water and came to. He didn't want to try chest compressions for fear that Shea's chest had been crushed in the fall. Later Gannon told the Press Democrat, “I'm no hero. I was just there. The jogger, he was really the guy.” Maybe so, but without Gannon and his rudimentary CPR skills remembered from a class he took in junior high, who knows if Shea would have made it? Gannon and Jennifer later visited Shea in the hospital, where more than a few tears were shed by a very grateful Mike Shea.

Assistant Fire Chief Daren Bellach
And speaking of people not tooting their own horn, I just found out that Daren Bellach was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief of the Kenwood Fire Department back in July. Very well-deserved. Congratulations, Daren!

Marjorie Davis celebrating her 94th birthday at Fawn Rescue.

One of our greatest treasures is the indefatigable Marjorie Davis, founder of Wildlife Fawn Rescue. Marjorie turned 94 last week, and as you can see she is still going strong and still helping out at Fawn Rescue. Happy Birthday, Marj!

Cory O’Donnell receives a plaque from Kenwood School Superintendent/Principal Bob Bales.
At its Nov. 12 meeting, the Kenwood School District's Board of Trustees gave tribute to outgoing board member Cory O'Donnell for her six years of service. Being a trustee is a lot of hard work that mainly goes unnoticed, so thank you, Cory! Cory and her husband Mike live in Kenwood, and their children Henry and Frances are graduates of Kenwood School. Virginie Boone has been tapped to replace Cory. Those are some big shoes to fill, but Virginie can do it.

David and Ginny Freeman taking a break from wedding festivities in Spain.
and Ginny Freeman of San Francisco and Kenwood were in Spain last month for the wedding of David's godson, and found themselves at a pre-wedding party at a winery in the Rioja region of Spain. In the vineyard was a barraca, or shepherd's hut, where they stopped to read their Kenwood Press and get a picture. Thanks, you guys! Ginny also reports that her mother Ruth, who lives in Camas, Washington, turned 100 on Oct. 8 and reads the KP cover to cover. So Happy Birthday, Ruth!

Bob and Lisa Flores at Revolution Square in Havana.
Oakmonters Bob and Lisa Flores are back from Cuba, a cultural and educational trip they first heard about at Santa Rosa JC. Bob, who is 84, said you have to be in good shape to travel in Cuba, as the trip involved lots of walking on the uneven cobblestone streets and sidewalks of Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. They visited Ernest Hemingway's house, toured a sugar cane plantation and a cigar factory, and enjoyed lots of beautiful Cuban music. And they remembered their Kenwood Press! Thank you!

Pat Randall (left) and Joanne Bender pose with the Press at Blarney Castle.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Pete Hogan, Pat Randall and Joanne Bender were touring Ireland and sent us a photo from Blarney Castle. Pete says that no matter what month it is, you'll get two to three inches of rain, but they were lucky and only had two rainy days during their ten day trip to the Emerald Isle.

Well, that's a whole lot of chat! Thanks, everyone, for sending in your news and photos. It's easy to do, so if you have an item for Village Chat, email it to, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP


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Food Bank comes to Sonoma Valley
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