Meet your five heroes of Sonoma County
Thanks to your input, we’ve honored five community heroes who have dedicated their lives to making our little slice of the world happier, healthier, more compassionate and more holistic. Each hero was nominated by YOU and chosen for the footprints they leave in our community, wherever they walk.Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project!
Meet Larkin O’Leary
About Larkin: Larkin believes in the importance of inclusion for all people and is on a mission to change the narrative. Her tagline is, “you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know. Larkin and her husband Peter are Sonoma County natives, and have both been teachers in the Rincon Valley Union School District since 2004. Larkin has taught various grades from preschool to middle school. She’s currently serving as the Vice Chair for the Sonoma CAC, and the President and Social Media Director of Common Ground Society.
James, their son, was born on St. Patrick’s day in 2014, is Larkin’s inspiration to create change. He is a goofy, fun-loving, friendly, sassy little guy who happens to have Down syndrome. He has a little sister, JuneBelle who we all adore. Larkin believes in the importance of inclusion for all people and is on a mission to change the narrative. Her tagline is, “you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know. So let’s learn!”
How Larkin has made a difference in our community: She started Common Ground Society to connect families who have children with disabilities and to help educate others & spread the word of acceptance & inclusion. CGS provides school assemblies and presentations to all who want to learn to Be the One!
Meet Shirley Zindler
About Shirley: Shirley is a founding board member of Dogwood Animal Rescue Project. She is the heart and soul of the organization and spends her day (and many nights) as a volunteer rescuing, feeding, medicating, bathing, bottle feeding and on and on - in her home. She is a true miracle worker. She is the main creator of the phenomenal Facebook page that has 43,000 followers.
How Shirley has made a difference in our community: She and her army of volunteers have raised enough money to medically treat really sick and injured animals. Dogwood funds spay and neuter programs here and in other CA communities to reduce the overpopulation of unwanted animals. They have funded more than 4,000 spay/neuters this year alone. They also help homeless people with their pets. Prior to Dogwood Shirley was an animal control officer for Sonoma County and often went above and beyond in her service to animals.
Meet Rosa Reynoza
About Rosa: Rosa has been a community volunteer and helper for decades. She works with many diverse groups of people. Rosa has been dedicated to the community since the first time I heard her name. She is constantly helping people, personally, while working through charitable organizations and in times of need. Most recently she found 3 locations to open as cooling centers during our 115F heatwave. Everything she does is because she loves to help and give back, not to get noticed or for recognition. She is a true local hero.
How Rosa has made a difference in our community: She helps the poor, the hungry, the graduating, and the elderly. She does taxes for seniors. She passes out food at the food pantry. There is so much that she does, it's just too much to list. Rosa personally arrange for two cooling centers to be open in Windsor on Labor Day when the regular cooling centers were closed for the holiday. She used her personal time to work with Churches to be open to the public with activities so people could come and cool off. She offered rides to and from the cooling centers. She helps the community in so many ways, big and small. Her impact is so important to the people who are the recipient of her assistance.
Meet Bob Cannard
About Bob: Bob Cannard is a living legend in Sonoma County, a farmer, a teacher, a grape grower and a quiet environmental activist who has lobbied for organic agriculture for most of his life. The son of farmer Bob Cannard, senior, and the father of farmer Ross Cannard, Bob has been a pioneer in sustainable, resilient agriculture for the past four decades. He taught at the Santa Rosa Junior College and educated several generations of farmers in Sonoma County, including people like Paul Wirtz, himself a legend farmer. Bob Cannard, Jr. founded Green String Farm, a landmark in the world of Sonoma County ag. Hundreds of student have interned there and worked in the fields, learning by doing