2015 Citizen of the Year
Buffie Francisco, Sebastopol CA
Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015
by David Abbott Sonoma West Editor
Photo by David Abbott
Sebastopol Chamber honors outstanding citizens
The Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce hosted its 40th annual Community Awards last Thursday, Feb. 12 at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts to an audience of more than 200 people. There was an abundance of appetizers, desserts by the local students of the Culinary Boot Camp, a silent auction of wonderful donations and some very special awards for the evening. A very humble Buffie Harris of Design Orbit accepted the Citizen of the Year Award.
“She has made many contributions to the community over the years since she arrived in Sebastopol, and especially served as a community bridge builder between the many divergent groups in our town,” Chamber Executive Director Teresa Ramondo said.
Harris-Francisco received one of the first newly designed golden apple awards designed after the apple/world brand that the chamber adopted several years ago. The apple was created by local artist Scott Hensey of Anaglyph Sculpture, Inc. in downtown Sebastopol.
The Business of the Year, Rialto Cinemas, also received the apple.
In addition to the many annual awards there was also a surprise award this year called the “Behind the Scenes” award given to Darrell Ramondo, Doug Buonaccorsi, Russ Ono, Alex Douglas, John Pittman and Patrick Innes.
These truly dedicated guys were awarded special certificates for all the many things they have done over the years to make things happen behind the scenes, keeping things running smoothly, with no public recognition, until now.
“It was a special night in Sebastopol as it always is, recognizing people and organizations that do so much good throughout the year, expecting nothing in return,” Ramondo said. “The chamber thanks everyone for the contributions they may have made to the success of the event.”
— Photos by David Abbott.
Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015
by David Abbott Sonoma West Editor
Photo by David Abbott
SebastopolCitizen of the Year 2015
Buffie Harris Francisco of Design Orbit was surprised with the Citizen of the Year Award at last Thursday’s Chamber Mixer, held at Vanguard Properties in The Barlow. Pictured (l-r): Janet Harris, Buffie Harris Francisco, Chamber Board President Linda Collins and Chamber Executive Director Teresa Ramondo. Seated in front is Chamber Board Member Lu Frazer and standing in back is Board Member Ricardo Freitas.
When the soft-spoken native Kentuckian Buffie Harris Francisco arrived at the January Chamber mixer at Vanguard Properties in The Barlow, she had no idea what the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce had in store for her.
But as she was preparing to leave, the chamber board called her to the front of the room to present Harris with balloons, a bottle of champagne and the honor of being the 2015 Sebastopol’s Citizen of the Year.
“I was completely shocked,” she said. “I’m really super-honored and surprised.”
Harris came to Sebastopol from San Diego about 10 years ago after stints in Florida and Hawaii.
“I’d been wanting to leave (San Diego) for awhile and came up here to visit friends,” she said. “I Googled Sebastopol and read a story about birds … and liked the way Sebastopol respected nature.”
Born and raised in Louisville, Harris knew from a young age that she wanted to eventually live in California.
Since she’s been in Sebastopol, Harris has created a successful graphics business, Design Orbit, and has contributed to the community in countless ways.
Among her service are stints on the Sebastopol Center for the Arts board in 2014; alternate to the City of Sebastopol General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC); Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce marketing committee 2013-2014; Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce board member 2012 (member since 2008); Sebastopol Downtown Association director 2014 (secretary 2012-2013); Sebastopol Public Arts Committee 2013; CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained 2012, and former president and co-founder of the Gathering of Healers.
She also works with the Flag Foundation, a rescue organization that provides open space and cares for horses, and her art has been chosen four times to represent the annual Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival.
“When Buffie’ s name was presented to the committee for an award consideration it became very clear that she has quietly made many contributions to the community and served as an outstanding citizen since arriving,” Chamber Executive Director Teresa Ramondo said. “She has made great strides to create a big picture view of the community, encouraging various groups to work together.... She loves Sebastopol and has a big heart and it shows in her work through Design Orbit.”
The Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce Board will present the 2015 Community Awards on Thursday, Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.
In addition to the awards there will be light refreshments during the reception from 6-6:45 p.m., a silent auction and the gallery show featuring “Wetlands, Ever Changing Waters, Land, and Life.”
Admission is free although donations at the door to the event and the Chamber’s youth scholarship fund are appreciated. The Chamber asks for people to RSVP to 823-3032 to anticipate attendance. The Center for the Arts is located at 282 S. High St.
Other awards include, Rialto Cinema, Business of the Year; Sue Labouvie, Volunteer of the Year; Interact “Adopt a Family,” Youth Service to Others; Mike Carey, Service to Youth; Sonoma Compost, Environmental Consciousness; Sue Kelly, Outstanding Public Service; Marigold Indian Bistro, Excellent New Business; Monty Mentry, Service to Seniors; Dr. Jason Cunningham, Humanitarian of the Year; Cynthi Stefenoni, Contributions to the Arts; Global Student Embassy, Spirit of Sebastopol; Bardella & Associates and Learn to Swim Program, Hall of Fame; and Sebastopol Mural Project, Beautification of a Visible Site. The Police Employee of the Year, Sergeant David Ginn and Fireman of the Year, Matt Senn will also be recognized.