Russian River Sisters 2014 Grant Cycle Is Open


The Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence 13th Anniversary Grants Cycle is now open.



Applications (online only)  are due by 11:59 p.m., Friday, March 28.


Grant funding requests are accepted only in writing via an application form on the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence


Ubiquitous, generous and always gracious, The Russian River Sisters  both create and appear at events for a wide variety of groups, helping to  raise money for  specific causes, but they also host their own events (Bingo, Give Back Tuesday) to benefit a Grants Fund which they use to help under-funded smaller organizations and projects providing direct services to the members of the communities within the Sisters’ sphere of influence.


Says longtime Grants Chairnun, Sr. Nova Nilla  “We encourage anyone who is interested in receiving one of our grants, to look at our webpage for an application. ”


“We also invite ALL of the community to attend our grant giveaway/anniversary party on the April 18.  The selected organizations will be notified approximately ten days prior to the event.”  This year’s ceremony will be taking place at the not-yet-opened Buck’s River Mill Dinner Theater on Fourth and Mill across Mill street from the R3 Resort.


Each year’s list of recipients always has a few surprises and  you may expect to be in “a room full of like-minded individuals”, many of them representing nonprofits.


Regarding the size of the awards, Sr. Nova explains, “We never tell how much we give out, we never know how much is available until a few days before the event….some funds arrive at the last minute.”



Furthermore, says Nova with a twinkle in his heavily-mascaraed eyes, “ we also don’t reveal how much each recipient gets. We always keep it a surprise. We try to accommodate all of the requests for grants but some fall outside of our parameters. Over the years we’ve had requests anywhere from $50 to $70,000.”


The Sisters must prioritize and do the best they can to select carefully, with heart as well as good sense. Says, Sr Nova “We wish we could fund them all, but unfortunately, it’s not possible, for many reasons. So we do the best we can.”


In evaluating an application, the Sisters consider the nature of the request and how relevant it is to the needs of the Guerneville and lower River community.  They do not approve grant requests for salaries, honorariums, personal or travel expenses, or  requests from organizations outside of their sphere of influence.


In past years’ awards ceremony cum anniversary party, community members have been “sanctified” and honored with “Sainthood” for their outstanding service to the community.


Those who  received grants in 2013 are:



Face to Face, Food For Thought, Friends Outside, Green Acre Homes, Guerneville School science class, Guerneville School grad night, Guerneville School volleyball program, Lomi School Foundation, Martial Arts Youth Institute, Monte Rio School, NASEN SHARP syringes, New Horizon School, On the Move, PALS, Paws for Love, Rancho Cotati High School, Russian River Senior Center, Russian River Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Humane Society, West County Health Centers


Sister Nova  Nilla, who has long headed the Grants Committee, said IN 2012 the group received more than 30 requests for their  grant funding last year and more than two-thirds of the applicants received awards.


Sister Sparkle Plenty, a founder of the local order  said, “We Sisters began (in this community) by building ‘bridges’ with the seniors, local schools sheriffs and firefighters’ associations and advocacy groups.”


By attending and creating events,the Sisters were able to raise the River community’s “awareness of the struggles that were going on all around them.”


Since its inception, the Russian River Sisters has found ways of accumulating and disbursing monies to needy groups and  individuals,  and The Russian River Sisters Grants Program is just one means of channeling  financial help.  Some of the money comes from donations, and the rest comes from the Sisters’ vigorous fund raising efforts.
The Sisters kicked off the Grant program in 2003 because, says Sr. Nova, ”The public entrusts us with donations.”  They have raised additional funds through  monthly  bingo games at Odd Fellows Hall (now at the Vets Hall) , Give-Back


Tuesdays at the Rainbow Cattle Company, a Mardi Gras, a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament at Main Street Station and selling home-baked pastries at events,  to name a few. They’ve also co-hosted events with the Russian River Rotary and other like-minded institutions.


Srs. Sparkle and Nova remind the public that “we are a non-profit all volunteer organization, and 100% of every donation is given back out into our community.


Sr Nova advises, “The grant committee  receives 20 to 40 applications for funds in each grant cycle (usually one in Spring and one in Autumn), and we are extremely careful that the awards recipients are doing work that benefits the ENTIRE community. ”


Along with the Sisters’ 13th anniversary celebration, refreshments and entertainment will be aboard, and there will also be recognition awards to local community benefactors.The Sisters feel its important that “the public gets to see the faces of the people behind the organization, and hear first hand what they do.”


The River Towns asked Srs Sparkle and Nova: Is the Guerneville Order’s grant program  unique, or do all chapters have similar programs?


The response:
As far as I know, all the Sisters around the world raise funds and awareness for local issues. Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Sisters focused primarily on HIV/AIDS issues. Most Orders of Sisters are in large cities, with large Lesbian,Gay, Bi and Transgender/Transsexual populations.


When we first started in 2001, we assumed most of our work would be with the local LGBT community, but we quickly realized that our entire community was suffering.  Budgets and services were being slashed or eliminated, children were



going hungry, seniors were suffering, homelessness and despair was growing.
We started working with school groups, senior groups, even the fire fighters. Over the last 10 years, the Russian River Sisters have been privileged to work with close to 200 local groups on an ongoing basis.  Other Orders of Sisters have asked us for guidance in expanding their programs to benefit members of the entire community, not just the LGBT needs.