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Rohnert Park Rumblings - February 2015


Rohnert Park Rumblings - February 2015

by Gina Belforte

Think of Rohnert Park as a tapestry, a variety of threads, rich in color and design that captures the vibrancy of our community. Bold colors capture the strength of our neighborhoods, parks, schools, city staff and our shopping areas. However there is a hole in our tapestry that needs to be fixed. 

The publishing of the Portrait of Sonoma validated what so many of us in Rohnert Park had guessed, there are a couple of sections in town that have very low income and education levels.

As we looked further into the data, we cross referenced it with the needs of our residents for health and human services such as a health clinic, pre-school programs, dental and health care, counselors, and food assistance programs.

We further realized that Rohnert Park doesn’t have a robust variety of community-based organizations. We have our chamber, our Rotary, Neighbors Organized Against Hunger and the RP Family Resource Center, but that is it. We don’t have any of the community-based organizations you would find in many of the other parts of Sonoma County.

These are the rich, strong binding threads of a tapestry which are missing from our community.

The city held a joint meeting with the county in which over 40 non-profit groups and stakeholders attended to learn about the gap of health and human resources for our residents and to help us repair the holes.

The city recently made a connection with the school district and Family Resource Center. Because of this connection, or weaving of the thread, the Family Resource Center has helped approximately two dozen children who where in need of services. 

The police department has met with the human service side of the county for its mental health services. Before the official start date of the county’s program, Rohnert Park Public Safety called for assistance with a crucial situation. They got the assistance they needed with one officer stating that working with the county’s program “was the best experience ever.” Before this connection, or weaving of the thread, the police department had only two options in dealing with someone, arrest them or let them go. Now there is a strong partner that can assist public safety in getting someone the help they need.

And Rohnert Park has an eligibility worker! The eligibility worker is in the Family Resource Center one day a week with the hopes of many that this will expand further.

We are further excited about the Rohnert Park Health Center, which is slated to open in July. The health center is a foundational corner piece to our tapestry. While there are significant funding gaps we are hopeful it will open on it scheduled target date and are having numerous meetings with the county to find ways to fill the gap.

This is why Sonoma County is such a special place. Rohnert Park said we needed help in providing health and human services to our residents and the county and non profits have listened and are willing to help.

It is through this community, the community that stands up for the poor, the sick, the hungry and the hurting that has come together to help our Rohnert Park residents. No one person can claim success, as it would discount the value of everyone that is standing up to help our city. This community, the community that helps, is an amazing community.

And our city’s tapestry will shine brighter because of it.