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Smith: SSU students will arrive in Bahamas bearing big gift

  • Chris Smith.

For spring break, a clutch of Sonoma State University students will fly to the Bahamas. To party? Maybe a little.

But this group of 11 will go to the tiny, generally poor island of Eleuthera primarily to do something remarkable.

All members of the campus Rotaract Club, the students will work with locals to develop social entrepreneurship projects.

And they'll present the gift of a piano.

Among the myriad things in short supply on Eleuthera are musical instruments. The Sonoma State students, assisted by two local Rotary Clubs and SSU instructor Mary Graves, have gathered used horns and other instruments to give to islanders.

They didn't anticipate taking along anything bigger than they could carry. But cash donations from several Rotary Clubs allowed the purchase of a piano. It's already been shipped to Eleuthera and awaits delivery by the SSU students.

They'll put it in quite a special place. The Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center was an abandoned schoolhouse until 2011, when the first delegation of SSU students helped to rebuild it into a community asset where island residents can meet for many purposes, including the making of music.

If you'd care to see the students off, be outside Rohnert Park's Doubletree Hotel before 9:30 Saturday morning.

CLO'S CALL: Elfi Gilford was terrified, muddy and screaming for help alongside the Petaluma River in the heart of Petaluma.

The 72-year-old retired Amtrak food-service worker had been walking her two dogs on the river trail and was talking to someone when Max, an aged Rottweiler/Labrador, went for a dip.

He slipped in the mud and was thrashing, unable to stand. Elfi descended the bank to save him but, “I started sinking into the mud.”

Her screams could have curdled the milk at the Clover Stornetta Farms production plant that's right there, behind a tall cyclone fence. Elfi was beside herself as she spied two men running toward her from inside the plant.

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