Craig and Pat Boblitt

A LIFETIME OF VOLUNTEERING — Craig and Pat Boblitt’s personal interests — business and art for Craig, schools and children for Pat —guide their volunteering.

Craig and Pat Boblitt honored as Locals Who Make A Difference

In December, the Sebastopol City Council proclaimed Craig and Pat Boblitt as the town’s next Locals Who Make a Difference honorees. Banners bearing their photo went up on Main Street last week.

The Boblitts’ contributions to their community reflect who they are as individuals: Pat, an early education specialist, focused her volunteer efforts on schools and the needs of children, while Craig used his business savvy to put the Sebastopol Senior Center back on a firm financial footing. They also donate generously to the Sebastopol Community Center (Pat loves their classes) and Peacetown, which Craig calls “an amazing community event.”

Craig and Pat, who are both from the South Bay, met in college at San Jose State University. They moved to Sebastopol in 1979 and bought an undeveloped property off Sparkes Lane, where they designed and built their own home.

Craig, who is now retired, owned and ran his family’s firm, Epic Plastics in Lodi, while Pat worked with young children with special needs. They have two grown sons: Nate, who now has his own family and lives in Sebastopol, and Devin, who lives in Washington.

Early ties to Sonoma County

The couple had connections to Sonoma County even before they moved here, however.

From a young age, Craig vacationed with his family at Rio Nido on the Russian River in the 1950s and ’60s, and thought about one day moving here. He has fond memories of driving through Sebastopol and enjoying a glass of the area’s famed ice-cold apple cider.

Pat’s connection to Sonoma County goes back even further. Early in the last century subscribers to the Oakland Tribune were granted free lots in Cazadero with their subscription. Her maternal grandfather took advantage of the offer and Pat spent much of her childhood camping and building cabins near Murphy’s Beach.”

A legacy of volunteering

Craig said his family had a long history of volunteering in their community in South San Francisco, where his father was on the city council. Pat’s mother volunteered with her church.

Pat’s own volunteering tracks her two sons’ passage through Sebastopol’s public schools. She started volunteering at Gravenstein School District then moved on to Analy, serving on the Analy Education Foundation board and Analy Project Graduation. As an early education specialist, she also consults with local community preschools about working with special needs children. In recognition of her dedication to early childhood education, Pat was named Sonoma County Community Childcare Council’s Early Education Champion of 2019.

In addition to her volunteer work, she has also worked as an early childhood special education specialist with the Early Learning Institute (ELI) for 15 years.  She still works half time, teaching and co-directing the ELI community preschool in Rohnert Park, consulting with local schools and presenting workshops focused on supporting young children with special needs.

Craig’s efforts in helping to make the city a better place take many forms, but he’s best known for his work with the Sebastopol Senior Center. 

“The Senior Center might not have survived without the support of dedicated locals like Craig,” said Sebastopol Area Senior Center Director Linda Civitello. “He stepped up when asked to join the board at a time when the Senior Center was literally broke; he accepted the challenge and has helped turned things around.”

Craig explains the turnaround this way:

“The president of the board, Brian Ledig, and I had several meetings. We asked the director to leave and then went on the search for a new director. In the meantime, looking forward, we could see we were going to run out of money, and so I appealed to the city to give us a bridge grant and they did — $50,000. So now, jumping forward, we have a great director. We have like six months worth of money in the bank. It’s a really good success story, but it took some hard work and three or more years getting there.”

Civitello notes that Craig is also a hands-on board member. He has chaired benefits, organized barbecues and arranged for free space for the Holiday Pop-Up Store for the last four years. He also attends meetings with funders and the city council on behalf of the senior center and assists at every open house, potluck and dance.

As a volunteer, Craig said he particularly likes working on events.

“The events are challenging, but they are fun when they actually happen,” he said.  “You agonize over it before it happens, and then when it’s there, you just go, ‘Wow, look at all the people who turned out to support us.’”

Craig has also served on the Sebastopol Streetscape Committee, Sebastopol Design Review Board, Sebastopol Art Commission, the Sebastopol General Plan Update Committee and has helped out with Analy Project Graduation.

Feeling honored

How do they feel about having their faces on banners around town?

“We’re feeling humbled about this and a bit embarrassed,” Pat said. 

But it’s also kind of fun. She said her son and grandchildren were driving through town to go to a basketball game on Saturday, when one of the kids saw the banners and piped up, “How come grandma and grandpa's pictures up?”

Pat feels that there are a lot of people volunteering throughout Sebastopol that deserve equal recognition.

“I feel how lucky it is that we’re recognized. But I know for a fact that there are many quiet people who are doing even more than what I'm doing currently in the community and even more than Craig. I mean, some people are on three boards. It’s amazing to me, so I want those people to somehow know that we’re recognizing them, even though they’re not on the banner.”

Pat and Craig would also like to encourage more people to step up and get involved, particularly with the Community Center, which with its new development plan, “could be the glue for the whole city of Sebastopol,” Craig said.

They also wanted to remind people that anyone can nominate someone to the Locals Who Make a Difference program. The next deadline for nomination is March 1.

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