Sonoma County vigils, benefits set for Orlando massacre

Two Sonoma County faith-based services and one by LGBT youths are scheduled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, in addition to a silent auction and raffle.

The Center for Spiritual Living and Congregation Shomrei Torah will jointly host a “Vigil for Orlando,” a service of healing and compassion, from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the center, 2075 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa.

Rev. Edward Viljoen and Rev. Kim Kaiser of the Center for Spiritual Living, along with Shomrei Torah Rabbi George Gittleman, will lead a service including peace prayers from many traditions, candle lighting and music.

The Interfaith Council of Sonoma County and the “Of One Soul” Coalition are holding a memorial service for the Orlando victims Thursday, starting with a contemplative time, lighting a memorial candle and reading the name of each victim from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at Congregation Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati.

Prayer, poetry and music will follow from 7 to 8 p.m., said Irwin Keller, Ner Shalom's lay spiritual leader.

Local LGBTQ Connection youth leaders are holding a community gathering from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at 714 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa.

In Guerneville, Rainbow Cattle Company, whose regular “Giveback Tuesdays” have raised thousands for local charities, will co-host a special “Giveback Thursday” beginning at 6 p.m., with dinner sponsored by local restaurants and a silent auction featuring everything from Broadway tickets to fine wines and spa packages - as well as a few off-beat items like two copies of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 marriage equality ruling signed by plaintiff Jim Obergefell, organizers said.

There is no cover, but a $5 donation is recommended for dinner. Rainbow Cattle Co. is located at 16220 Main St.

Then Friday, a raffle and auction will be intertwined with weekly karaoke at Guerneville's r3 Hotel, also to benefit the victims in Orlando. Karaoke starts at 8 p.m. at 16390 Fourth St.

Auction proceeds, raffle sales and 10 percent of Rainbow Cattle Co. sales will be distributed through Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to its sister chapter in Orlando, for donation to the victims and family members affected by the shooting early Sunday at a gay night club called Pulse. About $5,000 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon.

Sister Scarlet Billows, mistress of the purse for the Russian River Sisters, said organizers are modeling their fund-raising campaign after the “one-two punch” that raised more than $18,600 for victims of Lake County's Valley Fire in 2015. The Sisters also raised more than $10,000 this year for struggling crabbers devastated by a 4 1/2-month closure of the Dungeness crab fishery.

Billows said fund-raisers hope to reach at least $10,000 in donations for Orlando.

Michael Volpatt, whose Big Bottom Market is providing food on Thursday, said donations for the hastily planned effort have just poured in from local wineries and business owners eager to help. There's even been an offer of a written statement from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he said.

“We're all seriously affected by this,” Volpatt said. “It's a tragedy. And it's a tragedy for the country. It's a tragedy for the world. But when you add on the LGBT layer of all this, it becomes an even bigger tragedy for us and for our advocates. And you know, I have to say the one thing about our community is we pull together, and we really, really want to help in anyway shape or form.”

For more information see the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Facebook page.

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