Making a Difference

I am inspired everyday by the people I meet in my travels, by the folks that work for me, and by the people that have grown to become my dear friends and family over the years. I am always hoping that even by having a simple conversation, I have shared a story that has changed someone’s day. Young or old, I feel that people can be constantly motivated to reach their goals. I especially feel this way towards children. Children are filled with so much laughter and potential, how could you not want all of them to be encouraged to reach their ultimate dreams?

When I see a young man or woman truly enjoying their passion, I remember what it was like to run with unrestrained abandon. The sun on my face in the vineyard, the sweet smell of grapes on a warm breeze, and a long summer afternoon spent imagining all the things that children are inspired to do. This can be different for every kid. One child may want to build a rocket, one might want to paint, one may want to read or write, and one may want to play soccer. No matter what the dream is, the possibilities of a child’s imagination should know no boundaries and their dreams should always be big.

As Americans, we have the responsibility to ensure that all our child dreamers are supported so that their ideas can become achievements. It is our obligation to become mentors to younger generations and develop these dreamers into leaders who have accomplished their ultimate goals. My wife Amy and I began the Harmony Foundation for Children because of these beliefs. We provide financial support to youth who have proven to be dedicated and inspired, but whose success might be jeopardized by situations that are out of their hands. We sponsor hardworking kids that require an extra bit of help to achieve their passion in life. Amy and I feel very fortunate to have so many blessings and know we couldn’t have reached all our dreams without help and opportunity. Amongst all of our achievements, it is our greatest triumph to help these outstanding youth. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be a child and to not have hope. It is our goal to give the kids at the Harmony Foundation hope that the drive and hard work they put into their passions is met by unwavering support, making their biggest goals achievable.

Gianna Cianfichi

Gianna Cianfichi

I was incredibly inspired this last December by a young woman named Gianna Cianfichi who attends Santa Rosa High School, the same school I, my grandmother, father, aunts and uncles went to. Gianna, her mother and I shared a conversation at the Ledson Hotel and I was immediately impressed by the accomplishments of this young lady. While in honors classes and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Gianna is pursuing her ultimate dream of becoming the national champion in rodeo. Her enthusiasm and drive to succeed was evident and I knew she would be the perfect fit for the Harmony Foundation. I loved meeting a young person who enjoyed their passion so much. It is a great joy to me to help her grow and develop in life. I wish every child could have the opportunity Gianna has. I believe that with some hard work and direction, everyone can have a much better life. Sometimes, they just need help realizing it.

I am a self-made man who was lucky to come from a family with the ability to support me. I was able to fulfill all of the dreams I had in the clear blue afternoons of leisurely summer days. I care so much about making a difference in these young people’s lives. I hope my experience is also something I can offer these young, capable people. I want to make sure that these exceptional kids are given, at the very least, an opportunity at realizing their ultimate dreams.

So, I would like to introduce Gianna and her blog about the journey of becoming the national champion in rodeo.  She is a brilliant young woman and I hope you enjoy reading about her endeavors as much as I do.

Gianna’s Story:

Hi! I’m Gianna Cianfichi and the Ledson Harmony Foundation has recently sponsored me for High School Rodeo. Thank you Ledson! I have been in competitive rodeo for the past 3 years and have qualified for the Junior Rodeo National Finals the past two years. Last year, my horse Boomer and I were in the national top twenty in pole bending. As a freshman at Santa Rosa High School, this is my first year competing at the high school level and I am excited to be among such strong opponents. We are about half way through the regular season of eight, two-day rodeos.  I compete in all six events for women: barrel racing, cutting, pole bending, goat tying, team roping and breakaway roping. In each event, the top five competitors qualify for the California State Finals.  California is divided into nine districts, each contributing their top five to the State finals.

My most recent rodeo was held in District 2, which is my home ground. Leading up to this rodeo I had a lot to focus on.  Besides doing well in school and staying healthy, my main concentrations in practice were to better my consistency in goats and tighten my two end poles in pole bending. I feel I did very well overall and that all the practice paid off.  I was unofficially first in both goats and pole bending for the rodeo.  These two wins improved my seasons rankings and I moved up two or three slots, placing me third overall in both. However, I know things can change quickly in rodeo and I need to stay focused and consistent.

Rodeo is my passion. I love my four horses very much, and the high expectations I hold myself to, I also hold my horses. This year I’m shooting to make it to State finals in all six events.  Even though it’s my first year at the high school level, I am setting myself up so I am a hardy challenger in the state all-around. I look forward to sharing the results of my next rodeo.  Thank you in advance for your support!

 

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Lyle: A Good Chapter

Lyle has come a long way in the last eight months! For those of you who haven’t followed his story through my previous blogs, he was on a “not so great path” when we met.

Photo by Robbi Pengelly
Courtesy of Sonoma Index-Tribune

Today, he works at our winery five days a week, and my General Manager Cat Kaiser can’t say enough good things about him. “Lyle’s my ‘go to guy’,” Cat told me the other day. “He’s gone from part time to full time and he’s really showing a dedication to the business. When we’re short staffed, he’ll come in at the last minute.  He’s fast, he’s funny, and he always has a positive attitude. When he’s done with a project he immediately asks what he can do next. He’s happy!”

Lyle does multiple jobs. He keeps the Gourmet Marketplace stocked, the cellar stocked, sets up private tastings, greets guests at the front desk, and does pretty much anything else you ask him to do. And he’s learning the business from the ground up, which is the way to start building a foundation for success.

Cat’s comments made me feel incredible. When I come to The Castle and Lyle is there, he always greets me with a big smile, loads of personality and a big hug. There’s nothing better in life than the feeling you get when you witness another person’s life growing more and more fulfilling.

As the days come upon us, Lyle and I have a lot more things to work on. But right now, in this time and space, he’s on his way to becoming a productive and content human being.