Locals who make a difference

The city of Sebastopol has chosen Joe and Linda Maloney as the next Locals Who Make a Difference. The couple was honored at the Sept. 1 city council meeting. Their faces will soon adorn banners on Main Street.

According to the city’s proclamation, “Joe and Linda donated land to Habitat for Humanity, gave funds to the Sebastopol Union School District’s fundraising program, sponsored the Community Center’s Sebastopol Talent Show, and consistently supported local youth with employment. Joe spent many years as a volunteer football coach at Analy High School and organized labor and donated materials to repair the football facilities. Likewise, Linda was instrumental in the Analy sports field improvement project, which ultimately led to a completely upgraded facility.”

The Maloneys, who met as undergrads while attending UC Davis, moved to Sebastopol 32 years ago from Palo Alto, where Linda was working on her masters in child development at Stanford.

Linda said she and Joe were familiar with west Sonoma County because Linda had family here and, as a teenager, had worked as a camp counselor at Saint Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker. Joe grew up in neighboring Marin County.

“So this is where we decided to call home and to raise our family,” Linda said.

Although he studied physiology at Davis, Joe decided to become a contractor, ultimately founding Maloney Construction. Linda worked as the director of a child development center in Santa Rosa and then as a professor of child development at Santa Rosa Junior College, a position she still holds. (She’s currently working on her PhD at Stanford, focusing on infant mental health.)

In the mid-1990s, they moved onto a Gravenstein apple ranch, west of Sebastopol, and started farming apples and growing Pinot Noir.

“We’ve loved being involved in the apple industry,” Linda said.

Having a ranch, they and their kids naturally became involved in the local 4H chapter. They also became well-known locally for giving local teens their first jobs working on the ranch and in construction.

“It helps them build employment skills,” Linda said, noting that Joe has also been involved in the North Bay Construction Corps.

Joe’s work in construction and the couple’s spiritual dedication to helping the less fortunate led to their involvement with Habitat for Humanity.

“Joe and I were involved in the first two Habitat for Humanity builds in downtown Sebastopol, which are adjacent to the police station,” said Linda, whose father was an Episcopal minister. “It was a way for us to take our spiritual commitments and also the skills that we have through building and use those together and provide some housing for people.”

Linda said both she and Joe have always been passionate about working with young people. Ultimately, Joe decided to leave construction and get a teaching credential. He has worked as a science teacher (remember that physiology degree) at Brookhaven Middle School and Analy High School. He now teaches science at Laguna High School, the continuation school.

The Maloneys have four boys, all of whom are now grown and launched. Their boys’ enthusiasm for sports led the Maloneys to become deeply involved in youth sports in Sebastopol.

“Joe has coached hundreds of athletes in soccer, baseball, basketball, football and rugby,” she said.

Though one wonders where they find the time, Linda also said they have lots of hobbies.

“We love to make fresh apple juice for our friends,” she said.  “We both like to swim and fish. Joe likes to free dive. We also love whitewater rafting so we spend time, when we can, rafting down rivers.”

By choosing the Maloneys as recipients of the Locals Who Make a Difference award, the city of Sebastopol is showing its gratitude for all the couple has done for the town over the years. In turn, the Maloneys feel grateful to have found Sebastopol.

“It’s just been a really great place for us to raise our family and sink our roots,” Linda said.

Townsy is a recently-launched community app, offering local news, online shopping at local stores, a local event guide, local volunteer and job boards and more. 

Sonoma West Publishers is partnering with Townsy to make our news more accessible to the Sebastopol community. 

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