Verity in the News

Chris Castillo, Verity’s Executive Director, wins Nonprofit Leadership Award

Chris Castillo, of Santa Rosa’s Verity, has won one of North Bay Business Journal’s Nonprofit Leadership Awards. From Chris:

I want to thank you for this tremendous honor. And yet I want to say that yes I lead this organization but we would not be who or where we are without the tremendous current and past staff. So while I personally accept this honor, I do it on behalf of my Team Verity as well as all who have been victimized by rape and sexual violence. They truly are my heroes. Thank you from the depths of my heart.

Read more here.

Check out our pictures and video from the event on Facebook! Thank you for being a part of the Verity community, whether you’re a volunteer, donor, client, or friend of the agency — we couldn’t do it without you!
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Georgina Tello Bugarin recognized by Argus Courier

This week, Petaluma’s newspaper, the Argus Courier, highlighted the work of one of our advocates who works half-time out of the Petaluma Police Department. They love her, we love her, and her clients love her, so we are so glad her work is being recognized!

[Georgina Tello] Bugarin, who works full-time for the nonprofit Verity, which operates the county’s rape crisis center, spends 20 hours a week working from the police headquarters to help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Those cases are often difficult to navigate, entangled in complex webs of emotion and fear, Bugarin said. Though her work is a challenge, her reward comes from helping victims rediscover themselves outside of the violence that has shaped their lives.

“I’m very upset about the victims being mistreated,” said Bugarin, a 46-year-old Petaluma resident. “My main motivation is trying to give voice to those victims.”

Bugarin, a bilingual native of Guanajuato, Mexico, has worked with Petaluma police for nearly two years, though the advocate position has existed in the department since 1999. She works with an average of 22 clients each month, and is often called to the scene as officers respond to incidents, or is tasked with reaching out to victims after reports are filed.

She links victims to local resources, including shelters, clinics or counseling, and will attend court dates with victims and provide continued support. Some victims don’t return her calls or aren’t ready to move forward, Bugarin said, but she offers her services regardless.

“What I’m trying to do is tell them that I’m there for them to support whatever decision they’re going to make,” she said. “I provide information and resources and whatever they decide, I’m there for them.”

Petaluma was among the cities to recognize April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we are thrilled that the awareness and attention is spreading across the county, thanks in large part to the work of Verity staff and our partner agencies! Read more here.

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SRJC’s First Annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes”

Verity attended, initiated, or hosted 40 different events throughout April 2017 in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month, and we wanted to highlight one of our favorites. This event brought together over 200 people to raise awareness among the young people who need preventative education the most, and we were honored to be invited and for our Coaching Boys Into Men facilitator, Zach, to be one of the featured speakers.

We love when Verity and our staff members make the news. The Press Democrat has some great coverage, photos, and videos of the Santa Rosa Junior College’s First Annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which brought together students from Sonoma State, the Junior College, and community members from a variety of agencies together to raise awareness about sexual violence and the intersections of identity that affect sexual violence.

‘This is a real, direct, easy way for people to participate; just to really do a little thing to step out of your own perspective,’ said Zach Neeley, prevention educator for Verity, a sexual assault awareness advocacy group that has provided support to the JC’s effort to make violence awareness and prevention something more student-athletes talk about.

Read more from the Press Democrat here and check out pictures from the Santa Rosa Junior College. We also took some photos of our own, which you can see on our Instagram!



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Board President Cecile Focha is a Star!

We love when our all-stars are recognized for their invaluable contributions to the Sonoma County community. Cecile Focha, our President of our Board of Directors, was recently honored in this Star Seekers’ Facebook Post.

“Time for another fantastic unsung heroine, today honoring Cecile Focha! Cecile is a Sergeant with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Over a 20 year career as a deputy, she worked on the streets and in investigations. She was the first female Detective Sergeant in the history of the So Co Sheriff’s Office, where she supervised the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Detective Unit. Cecile was instrumental in establishing the Sonoma County Family Justice Center, and was the very first Press Information Officer for the agency responsible for all media relations. She is President of the Board of Directors for Verity ( the county’s only rape crisis center). In addition, she is the Northern Chapter Vice-President for PORAC, serves as a Roseland University Prep Mentor to a college-bound student, and a SRJC police academy instructor for Sex Crimes Investigation, Cultural Diversity, Racial Profiling, Hate Crimes, Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking and vehicle operations. If that wasn’t enough, she helped establish a teen driving program – SRJC Community Ed (Alive at 25) – which is a model program recognized at the state level for its effectiveness. Cecile supports the Russian River Fly Fishers, Events with Sole, Boy Scouts of America, Casting for Recovery (breast cancer group) as retreat volunteer and river guide, and is a Santa Rosa AAUW (American Association of University Women) member. As we pay attention to honor those who put their lives on the line for us, let’s take a moment to honor this heroine of Sonoma County. Thanks Cecile!!”


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Board of Directors President Cecile Focha Honored

Our own Board of Directors President, Cecile Focha, was honored by Congressman Mike Thompson as one of two Public Safety Heroes of the Year. We were excited to give the Congressman a tour of our facilities earlier this year, and we are so glad to see that he was impressed!

Congrats, Cecile, and thank you for all you do!

“Thompson said in a statement that Focha had demonstrated a “remarkable commitment to public service” over the last 18 years. A former spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, she was also its first female detective sergeant and she supervised the domestic violence and sexual assault detective unit. Thompson also said she has “played an instrumental role” in the Sonoma County Family Justice Center’s establishment and is president of the Board of Directors for Verity, the county’s only rape crisis center, among other accomplishments.”


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Billboards for Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Human Trafficking Billboard 2015


January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Sonoma County and across the United States. To help promote awareness in Sonoma County, Verity has joined with multiple Sonoma County agencies to post billboards in Santa Rosa, Cotati and Petaluma. These partners include:

  • Crossing the Jordan
  • Junior League of Napa-Sonoma
  • Petaluma Police Department
  • Polly Klaas Foundation
  • Social Advocates for Youth
  • Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office
  • Sonoma County Human Trafficking Taskforce
  • Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Soroptimist International of Santa Rosa
  • Santa Rosa Police Department

The billboards are located at:

  • North Side Sebastopol Rd, 500’ West of Boyd, Santa Rosa, West Facing (approx. 10 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa)
  • South Side College Ave, 600’ West of Maxwell, Santa Rosa, East Facing (approx. 340 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa)
  • East Side Redwood Hwy & Railroad, Cotati, South Facing (approx. 9170 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati)
  • West Side Hwy 101, 1000’ North of Gravenstein Hwy, Cotati, North Facing (approx. 7900 Redwood Drive, Cotati)
  • South Side Bodega Ave, 810’ West of Cleveland, Petaluma, East Facing (approx. 1510 Bodega Ave., Petaluma)
Billboard on Sebastopol Road

Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa

Billboard on West College Avenue

West College Avenue, Santa Rosa


About the Blog

Learn about what's new at Verity, announcements from our partner organizations, and ideas to help you get involved in fighting sexual violence.
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