The SCARE Board of Directors hope to use this section of our web page to share information with our members that we think will be of use to them. It will include summaries of topics that are presented at our General Membership Meetings as we know that most of you are not able to attend these meetings. We may also find other information that we think may be helpful to our retirees. If you have information that you think would help other retirees, please send it to Phyris Tobler at It will then be reviewed by the full Board to determine appropriateness of the material for our website.

The following is information only. SCARE does not endorse the products or services of any of our presenters.

Presentation at our February 27,2024 Membership Meeting on
Understanding and Avoiding Scams

Our speaker for the February membership meeting was Hana Aymar, Fraud Manager for Redwood Credit Union. Hana talked about the different ways scammers get to you and how you can protect yourself. It was an excellent, comprehensive presentation. There is a recap of her presentation in the May newsletter.

Presentation at our August 22,2023 Membership Meeting on
the American Red Cross

Vincent Valenzuela, the Disaster Program Manager for Sonoma, Solano and Napa, provided information on the various services provided by the American Red Cross (ARC). It provides services locally, across the country and around the world. Major service categories include Disaster Cycle Services, Biomedical Services, Service to the Armed Forces, International Services and Training Services. They received no government funding - all funding comes from donations.

Some interesting facts:

Go to to get more information on how to be prepared and to volunteer. There were many more details available in the Power Point presentation -- available on our website at Red Cross Presentation.

Presentation at our May 23,2023 Membership Meeting on
United Policyholders

Emily Rogan provided a very informative program at our Membership Meeting on May 23rd. United Policyholders ( is a non-profit organization that focuses on planning for and recovering from disasters, and advocacy for consumers to strengthen laws that protect policyholders and provide disaster survivors more flexibility. It provides assistance in purchasing insurance, knowing how much you need (number one problem after a disaster is that people don't have enough insurance to rebuild).They provide information and services before and after disasters including where to look if your insurance company drops your coverage and they offer many Zoom sessions on navigating insurance claims. She also talks about "hardening" your home to make it more fire resistant. This sometimes can give you a discount on insurance.

We know all of our members have experienced the increase in home insurance costs and many may now be in what is considered a 'fire zone', meaning cost has doubled, tripled or you have been dropped. We realize that most of our members are not able to attend our Membership Meetings and think it is important to share the information Emily provided on ways to deal with the above. United Policyholders provides services to the entire country. Since there seems to be no lack of disasters, this is good information to have available.

Links for online information from the United Policy website and to her Power Point presentation along with flyers that she handed out are shown below:

- Sonoma County WRAP Resource Center

- Home Insurance Shopping Help Page

- Dropped by Your Home Insurer

- Improve Your Home's Chances of Surviving a Wildfire

- United Policyholders presentation power point

Note: Emily said that State Farm was one to check out if your insurance had been cancelled. However, since her presentation, it was announced on the news that State Farm will no longer be writing any new homeowner policies in California although they are not dropping anyone. This is not a good sign.

Presentation at our February 28, 2023 Membership Meeting on
Travel after COVID

At our February 28, 2023 Membership Meeting, Trinette Neuerburg, owner of Oakmont Travel, gave us a lot of useful information regarding travel after COVID. Trinette handed out info on Important Travel websites. We are still struggling with getting the Zoom recording on our website so we are summarizing the speaker's presentation.

Trinette gave us an update on various travel issues now that COVID is no longer in emergency status. She noted that most travel agents are now working from home as they had to give up offices during COVID. Check reviews and ask questions to make sure they are legit as there are scammers here too.
1. Everything you need to know regarding travel, visas, passports, etc. can be found at
2. Travel agents are your advocate, and they rarely charge a fee for arranging travel for you unless you are booking stand-alone air flights.
3. Traveler's checks are a thing of the past. Plan to use your credit card as it is much easier for exchange rates. Some charge a fee in a foreign country so check yours.
4. So many people are traveling now that it can be difficult to get reservations.
5. To save money and have more availability, do not travel during holidays and summer. May and Sept. are particularly good.
6. Masks are no longer required but she recommends wearing one on airplanes.
7. Hotels and cruise ships are still taking precautions to keep people safe from COVID. If you are going to an Airbnb or VRBO, you should check references carefully as there can be problems with some of them.
8. You can get TSA precheck at STAPLES in Santa Rosa, or global precheck at SFO. First go online to start the process and set up appointments. There is a fee but then it is good for 5 years.
9. Consider getting travel insurance and make sure it covers financial default
10. A member suggested to help with airport parking.

If you want more information from Trinette, you can call her at 707 539-0424 or check her website -


Presentation at our May 24,2022 Membership Meeting on the Sonoma County Regional Park system:
We had 3 speakers from the Sonoma County Regional Park at our May 24th Membership Meeting. Melanie Parker and Mark Morley represent the Regional Parks whereas Melissa Kelly is the director of the Sonoma County Parks Foundation which helps to support the parks. There are more than 62 facilities under the Regional Parks with more than 16,000 acres. This is 1/3rd more than 5 years ago and they continue to add new ones. The facilities include parks, river and lake access, beaches, and many trails for hiking, walking and biking throughout the county. The website is a great source of information. It lets you search for parks with beaches, camping, fishing, boat launch, paddling, picnic areas, hiking and walking trails and more. For instance, if you click on beaches, it shows 20 different parks – along the ocean or rivers or lakes. There are special programs for families, youth (especially underserved), seniors, and the disabled.

The Sonoma County Parks Foundation ( helps to support the programs for underserved communities, including people of color, and for youth development including environmental education, summer camps and teaching kids to swim. It also supports other activities in the parks. The Foundation is supported by some grants but mostly by individual donations. You can donate to them through the annual Combined Fund Drive held by the County.

As a retiree, if you are looking for something to do with your free time, they have a great need for volunteers from camp hosts to single day workdays.

Both Parks and the Foundation work collaboratively with other organizations. For instance, Sonoma Land Trust may purchase land, or have it donated to them, and then donate it to the Regional Parks which provides ongoing maintenance and services.

The cost to use most park facilities is $7/visit/car but you can get an annual pass for $69 or for $49 if you are 62 or older. Park passes are available online, at a few of the parks, at their County center office, or at many stores. The website has all the information on it. As a member, you can use the parks for exercise, or you can take your grandchildren to the beach or camping or to play frisbee golf or just for a hike. Camping does cost extra.

Most of us attending the Membership Meeting were surprised at the variety of services and programs provided by the County’s Park Department even though many have been using some of the parks.

Presentation at our November 16, 2021 Membership Meeting: Carla Rodriguez, Deputy District Attorney, Sonoma County Elder Protection Unit and Donata Mikulik, Elder Justice Coordinator for Senior Advocacy Services provided information on Protect Yourself from Scams and Fraud. This was very informative and we recorded the Zoom presentation which includes the rest of our meeting. You can access it by copying and pasting the following link

The Power Point information that was used is posted at Protecting Yourself from Scams and Fraud.


Presentations at our August 24th, 2021 Membership Meeting Adrienne Kuhn is the Crisis Counselor Program Coordinator for the Wildfire Response Program, which is a program under Nation’s Finest, which partners with FEMA to provide a variety of services including food, clothing, insurance, and counseling to veterans in California, Arizona and Nevada. This is an ongoing program just for veterans, but they have received a special grant to provide the Wildfire Response Program to anyone in Sonoma County. This program offers individual and group crisis counseling as well as general support, fire preparedness info, along with information on local community support services and state and federal relief programs. Their Hotline is 707-921-5887. They offer weekly workshops Monday – Thursday on Self-Care Tips, Resource Referrals, Educational Group, Fire Preparedness and Peer Support. Adrienne’s presentation notes are available by clicking Adrienne's Power Point Presentation.

Vern Losh, SCARE member and former Sonoma County Fire Marshal, serves on the Board of Fire Safe Sonoma -- -- a nonprofit whose mission is to increase awareness of wildfire issues in our county and help local residents and firefighting agencies to achieve improved wildfire safety. Vern reported Fire Safe Sonoma has been instrumental in helping to educate residents about wildfire prevention and safety, especially through distribution of their publications Living with Fire in Sonoma County and Ready, Set, Go. ( Being prepared is crucial. He recommends assembling an emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other emergency occurs, know your evacuation zone and several evacuation routes, listen and head alerts, and have a plan for what you need to do if you are told to evacuate. There are many evacuation zones in Sonoma County and you should find out what yours is and make sure that you will get alerts if you need to evacuate. This can be done by going to and entering your address. There is also an interactive evacuation zone map at this site that shows where roads are closed.


Tate Birnie of the Birnie Law Office was the guest speaker at our May 25th, 2021 Membership Meeting. Her topic was Estate Planning. She provided a lot of very helpful informtion and sent us a copy of her power point presentation so our members who were not able to attend the meeting would have access to the information. The Power Point Presentation is available here. There was discussion at the meeting of some of the tax impacts of California Proposition 19. This proposition affects taxability of inherited real property. If you want more information on this, go to California Proposition 19 for Tate's video on this topic. Tate Birnie is available to answer questions and to help you with your estate planning. Her contact information is available at her website.


Home Insurance Information Our February 2018 Membership Meeting featured an excellent presentation by United Policyholders (a nonprofit corporation - not an insurance company) around various things you need to know and ask your insurance company about your home insurance. Many people in Sonoma County lost their homes in the October 2017 firestorm. The overriding problem was that many, if not most, were under insured. This presentation talks about what to do before and after disasters and how to get assistance through United Policyholders. The Power Point Presentation is available here. It includes contact information for United Policyholders in case you have questions. Also available is the Home Insurance Checklist with questions to ask your agent to make sure you have enough insurance and the right kind of insurance. We hope there will never be another firestorm but this information can help you prevent future problems that occur on a much smaller scale.


Estate Planning Fundamentals by Roger Illsley. At our 2/22/11 General Membership meeting, Roger Illsley, an attorney at a local Santa Rosa firm, spoke to us about the benefits of Estate Planning including using wills to make sure your assets go to the people you wish to have them along with using living trusts to avoid probate and taxes on your estate. The latter can add up to more than $25,000 on a modest (given today's home prices) estate of $500,000. He generously shared his summary of Estate Planning Fundamentals with us at the meeting and allowed us to post it on our website. If you want to contact Mr. Illsley, his contact information is at the end of the article.


Protecting Yourself from Fraud and Scams - Sad to say that there are all kinds of fraud and scams out there, and even sadder to note that approximately 50% of the scams are aimed at seniors who make up less than 15% of the population. That is a very sobering fact if you are a senior.

There is quite a lot of information on the web on how to recognize and protect yourself from fraud and scams and a few links with a great deal of information are shown below. This information is a little scary as there are so many ways people are trying to scam seniors these days but it is better to be forewarned, and therefore more likely to avoid getting taken in.

The Redwood Credit Union (which many retirees use) has a lot of information on different online frauds and scams . Go to the bottom of the page and click on "Tips for Avoiding Scams and Fraud". Anyone can go to this site even if you are not a member of the Credit Union.

Federal Trade Commision Consumer Information is a government site that has lots of information on how to protect yourself from online problems with topics like Imposter Scams, Charity Fraud, Identity Theft, Phishing, Health Care Scams, and more.

Also on the Federal Trade Commision Consumer Information site is info on Privacy and Online Security which provides valuable information on online security, limiting unwanted calls and emails, and recovering from identity theft.