A rainy night didn’t deter nearly 200 donors and nonprofit leaders from gathering in Healdsburg at SHED to celebrate local philanthropy and to honor Mary Hafner for her steadfast leadership and support of the Healdsburg Forever Fund.

In 2017, Healdsburg Forever awarded a record $160,000 in grants to 19 nonprofits serving Healdsburg and Geyserville. Under the stewardship of Community Foundation Sonoma County, Healdsburg Forever provides a permanent source of funding to support local organizations working in areas as diverse as preventing homelessness, raising literacy rates, supporting immigrants, preserving the environment, and increasing access to the arts.

The event included a presentation honoring Mary Hafner, posthumously, for her many contributions to the communities of Healdsburg and Geyserville. Healdsburg Forever created the “Harmon Heald Award for Lasting Community Impact” to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of the community through philanthropy.

Named for the town's founder, the award is a nod to Harmon Heald’s gift to the town of a plot of land now known as the Plaza. Healdsburg Forever board chair Taya Levine remarked at the event, “His simple gift that had unanticipated, lasting community impact, has enabled innumerable community gatherings and connections to take place over the years, making the Plaza synonymous with Healdsburg in the minds and hearts of those who live and visit here.”

Mary Hafner exemplified this tradition of generosity. Members of the Hafner Family who received the award on her behalf, noted the decades of love and support she enjoyed from the community. Mary and Dick Hafner bought property in Alexander Valley in 1967, then a plum orchard, and began their winemaking and residency in the area in 1987.

Despite her deep roots, Mary Hafner always considered herself a newcomer to the area. She was engaged in many community and civic efforts, serving on the board of the Sonoma Land Trust, protecting open spaces. She also volunteered with Face to Face, supporting those living with HIV in the county.

Healdsburg Forever enjoyed Hafner’s board service for six years. During her tenure the Healdsburg Forever Fund grew, and the organization matured thanks to her experience and wisdom.

Since its founding in 2003, Healdsburg Forever has provided over $865,000 in grants to local nonprofits working to address the disparities endured by some of the most vulnerable populations in Healdsburg and Geyserville, including health and human services, youth development and education, and the arts and environment. Healdsburg Forever is aiming to surpass $1 million in total grants in 2018.

2017 recipient organizations include: Alexander Valley ESL, Alliance Medical Center, Becoming Independent, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County, Catholic Charities, Corazón Healdsburg, Farm to Pantry, Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County, Healdsburg Food Pantry, Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Pepperwood Preserve, Reach for Home, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Russian Riverkeeper, Santa Rosa Symphony, Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), Sonoma County Legal Services Foundation, Sunny Hills Services and Vidas Immigrant Defense and Advocacy Services.

The 2018 grants program will begin in August with a workshop to familiarize applicants with the program and the application process. Grantees undergo a rigorous review process, including site visits by board members and community volunteers, with the support of the philanthropic professionals of Community Foundation Sonoma County. 

Levine announced “Contributions can be made to help achieve the ‘Make it $1 Million’ goal or to enhance the endowment and increase the funds available annually by growing the economic engine the endowment will be for Healdsburg, Forever.”

For more information about Healdsburg Forever, visit www.healdsburgforever.org. Healdsburg Forever is an affiliate of Community Foundation Sonoma County

— submitted by Caitlin Childs

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