I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.      Henry David Thoreau, American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher                              

What an amazing life I have!  My husband is very encouraging and supportive.  I am grateful to have family and friends that love me.  I am fortunate that my mother and step-mother live only 15 minutes away from me.  And I am blessed to see and play with all 4 of my grandchildren every week.  I am lucky to be a part of Sonoma County Alliance where community leaders are active and care about quality of life for all County residents.  Members volunteer on Boards, Commissions and Task Forces that work toward the goal of a healthy community in so many different ways.  This is just the start of my list.  What does yours look like?

We are all blessed.  So how do we pay it forward?  How do we give back?  One of the questions the Sonoma County Alliance is often asked is ‘What are you doing for small business in Sonoma County?’  Our mission is to support our members interests through representation, advocacy and education in order to promote a healthy economy, healthy environment, and healthy community.  Supporting small businesses is central to our mission.

In outreach efforts, Brian and I met with Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and president of Hello Alice, who told us about a small business grant program they administer.  This opportunity got us excited as a way that Sonoma County Alliance members could support local entrepreneurs, while meeting their own business community reinvestment and diversity goals.  We invited Elizabeth to our November General Membership Meeting to explain the program so that SCA members and leadership could understand and evaluate interest in sponsoring a local grant program.

Hello Alice is a free multi-channel platform that helps businesses launch and grow using AI technology to support nearly half a million companies in all 50 states and across the globe.  Through their Small Business Grants programs, they provide access to funding, networks and services.  These types of programs have demonstrative effects on all economies and Sonoma County is no exception.  Ms. Gore provided facts and statistics, stating that data collection is a large part of what they do at Hello Alice.  They can splice data in many verticals such as gender, stage of growth, industry, etc., looking at trends to educate enterprise partners, media and policy makers on the successes and hardships owners face.  Hello Alice helps half a million owners a week.

Ms. Gore stated that businesses can always use more capital and their data shows that finances are the biggest obstacle small business faces.  Grants of $1,000 to $10,000 can provide the nudge that owners need to buy inventory, make a part-time hire, or improve their digital presence, and these small things can snowball into greater business success.

Elizabeth introduced Emma Mann, of Soap Cauldron, a community based and family-owned small Sonoma County business that received funding through Hello Alice.  Ms. Mann is a veteran, woman of color, and a single mother who runs this business with her sister Pandora and daughter Sabrina.  They have been creating artisan soap under the name of Three Sister’s Apothecary since 1999.  With the help of the Small Business Grant program, they have grown their on-line retail presence by over 300% in the past 2 years.  Their story is inspiring and compelling.  I suggest you look at their website to read more.  www.soapcauldron.com   In addition to on-line purchase you can find their soaps in many local boutiques, spas, wineries, and natural foods stores.  Soap Cauldron also partners locally to make a difference. They believe that as part of our community and as a responsible business they have a duty to give back.  Thank you for your touching success story, Emma.

Those present were excited about the Alliance creating a Small Business Grant program and several businesses made a commitment to sponsor when we are ready to launch.  Fundraising for the program would come from Sonoma County Alliance members who would receive recognition for the funding.  A new Committee would be formed to set funding criteria, possibly including size of business, women, people of color, veterans, and persons with disabilities, yet we want to serve every Sonoma County small business owner with an entrepreneurial spirit.  Hello Alice would advertise, collect applications and screen applicants based on our criteria.  SCA members wishing to contribute would make a tax-deductible contribution to the Global Entrepreneurial Network (a 501(c)3 organization) who would hold the funds on behalf of the SCA until grants are made.    The amount of each grant will depend on our fundraising success with the goal of raising at least $15,000 a year with a minimum two-year commitment from donors.

We are excited to provide this opportunity to our members as well as to our community.  We will roll out details as they are developed and will provide you with the opportunity to make your tax-deductible contribution to this worthy program.

Enjoy this month and please take the time to notice all the blessings you have in your life.  Thank you again for being a member of the Sonoma County Alliance.

At our December General Membership Meeting, we will hear from Rick Green, Executive Editor of the Press Democrat.  Please register to join us December 1st at 7 am at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club or on Zoom at 7:30am.

Our Membership Committee is sponsoring a Happy Hour on December 1.  Watch for details in a future announcement.

Have a great month.


What are you grateful for today?

Marlene Soiland, President

Sonoma County Alliance


Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.      Muhammad Ali, American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet and philanthropist