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Ladybug Connections Helps Needy Families, Encourages Reuse

Item exchange is more than charity; it's about strengthening community, says founder

Gina Drohan is one busy woman.

The 40-year-old Novato resident is not only a mom and owner of three local businesses, but has recently started an exchange that provides clothing, furniture, shoes and household items to needy local families.

Called Ladybug Connections, the effort was created in honor of Drohan’s Romanian-born grandmother, Lucretia Carlomagno or "Ketzie" as she was known to friends, who died last December at the age of 92.

When Ketzie's family asked her how she wanted to be remembered after her passing, she said that whenever they saw a ladybug they should think of her.

“My grandmother was someone who loved people unconditionally, whether or not they were working, homeless or whatever,” says Drohan, who owns salons in Petaluma, Cotati and Napa. “She herself was very poor when she was growing up, but her mother would always leave out a dress for the gypsy families passing through…She respected their way of life.”

Drohan got the idea after a friend took her to the food pantry at where dozens of families line up each week to receive food donations. But besides food, families needed clothing, school supplies for the kids and furniture.

Drohan realized that while she couldn’t purchase everything families who came to the pantry required, she could start an organization that spread the word via the Internet to come up with items.

"I'm just an organizational kind of a person," she says. "Plus, I have a ton of contacts."

The community as well as Drohan’s own employees have responded quickly to Ladybug Connections. Every day Drohan posts needed items on her Facebook page, which can be dropped off at Lucchesi or at one of the local Massage Envy salons.

If someone isn’t able to drop off the items, Drohan is so energetic that she says she will gladly stop by your house and pick them up. 

But don't think this is just another charity.

“It’s about reusing and repurposing stuff and finding a new home for the items,” Drohan says. “When families’ basic needs can’t be met, the community as a whole can’t be strong.”

To donate items, check out Ladybook Connections on Facebook or email Drohan directly at ladybugconnections@rocketmail.com

Susan Kirks August 25, 2011 at 01:12 AM
I feel deep appreciation for your grassroots organizing and action. Thank you.
Massage Envy Napa August 25, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Please only drop items at Luchessi to us personally between 4:30 and 6 on Tuesdays at the Food Pantry. Or email for more drop off locations ladybugconnections@rocketmail.com.
Linda H. August 25, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Thank you Gina. You and Lynne are amazing! You know this gives me a great excuse to go to garage sales and rummage sales on Saturdays! Reuse, renew, recycle, restore! it's all good! Thanks for all you do.
joshua rotsten August 25, 2011 at 04:10 PM
What a nice thing to do for people in these hard times. I got stuff. :-)
Chris & John August 26, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Hi Gina & Lynn, With our recent move - I have lots of clothing and household goods to donate. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to help out such a needy cause. We're proud to have special friends like you. Your mom was also very special in every way.
Massage Envy Napa August 29, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Thank you Chris and John! Drop by at Gina's house anytime, or I'm happy to pick up to save you lifting!
Massage Envy Napa August 29, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Thank you Chris and John! Drop by at Gina's house anytime, or I'm happy to pick up to save you lifting!
Anastasia L. Schuster September 03, 2011 at 03:17 PM
We are truly blessed to have Gina in our community! Ladybug Connections is a great way to support people (and receive support) who are struggling through these very challenging times. I think of it as purposeful Freecycling! Lynne Moquete has had her front porch as an informal exchange for years, but what Gina has done is taken the concept to another level. What an amazing community we live in!
Yvette December 10, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Hello I have never heard of this organization, but with our current situation I maight be able to donate everything I have in my home. There was some confusion with the housing deptartment, landlord, his accountant, and myself....So we are loosing our home after about 11 years. I cannot afford anything here and do not want to move the kids out of their schools. I only can pay about $500.00 per month at the most...and thats almost everything I get. My job hasn't been needing me much, So I continue to look for other work, but with all the kids...no bus passes...no money and no one to help I am strapped.....If anyone knows of anything...please let me know....Thank You.....
Marilee Diehl December 13, 2012 at 09:04 PM
What a wonderful idea. I just got refered to you by a Petaluma Assn. I'm disabled on SSI and used every penny I had this month and had to borrow my max to secure my new rental in Lakeport Ca. It's a big downsize from where I am but we do what we have to in this economy. I've checked every resource and followed every referal and still can't find the last $300 that I need for the rental truck deposit. Please believe me, this is my last resort. If anyone can help I would be truly grateful. I only have a couple of days before I'm forced to leave without my belongings. I've been looking for help with this for weeks. It's the last thing I need. Not that I have much left, but what I have are mostly necessities now. However, I would be glad to contribute to your very worthy cause whatever I don't need. Thanks to all the ones that take the time to read and concider this request.

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