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Evidently someone was watching, listening, as 13 Santa Rosa High students, most of them members of the landmark school’s LGBT community, dined at the Steele & Hops Public House in advance of heading en masse to the prom.

When the blithesome cadre went to settle up the tab of more than $100, the kids found that most of it already had been paid by a fellow diner, one who’d also left them a note.

“Hi!” it read.

“I hope you and your friends have a great time! I’m so happy to see you able to go to the prom with the person you choose. Enjoy!

“And remember that not all that long ago, it would have been tougher! Have a great night.”

They did.

...

PLAYFUL CHARITY: Maybe you’ll recall the cluster of go-getting, caring women who once a month take breakfast into The Palms, the former motel on Santa Rosa Avenue that now shelters people who previously lived on the streets.

The women suggested that others find a rewarding way to enhance the lives of struggling people such as those who reside at The Palms. Well, Rohnert Park’s Diane and Chris Borr are happy to share what it is they do to have a blast with friends and gather some dollars for people in need.

They play Jeopardy. Early in the year, Chris and Diane spend hours compiling game-show questions based largely on People magazine headlines from the previous year.

Their party guests, 30 or so of them, bring something tasty to share and drop some money into a kitty. They split into two teams and indulge in a vigorous game of Jeopardy.

The winners get to declare where the cash in the kitty goes. This year there was $800.

That money, plus one guest’s bonus donation of $200, went to The Palms, where it fulfilled a wish by tenants for personal mailboxes.

...

HEAD OF F.I.S.H.: Sonoma Valley’s Kaarin Lee, the grape grower who for decades ran Kenwood Vineyards with her late husband, Mike Lee, walks today in some big shoes.

Long committed to seeing that no one in abundant Sonoma County goes hungry, Kaarin has succeeded 91-year-old force of nature Jeanne-Marie Jones as director of Santa Rosa’s bustling, all-volunteer F.I.S.H. food pantry.

Jeanne-Marie retired earlier this year after toiling merrily at F.I.S.H. for 25 years.

Kaarin learned about the pantry, which dispenses food for free six days a week from a rented space north of Coddingtown Mall, through her longtime volunteer job with the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

She visited F.I.S.H. a few years ago and fell in love with it.

“I saw how simple the operation is,” she said. “There are no ifs, ands or buts.”

Food that’s been donated to the pantry or that was purchased from the Redwood Empire Food Bank is given to any and all who phone ahead to say they need it, no questions asked. All who come are treated with dignity and respect.

“It’s not easy to stand in line for food,” Kaarin said.

She aspires to steady the course set by her mentor and idol, Jeanne-Marie, and she hopes to see the fulfillment of the dream that has F.I.S.H. one day moving into a building of its own.

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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