Long-Term Fire Recovery Takes a Village
by Megan Barber Allende
Work has begun for the Long-Term Recovery Committee, which is being chaired by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. The team is pulling together the resources, skills, and knowledge of individuals and organizations throughout and beyond our community. A case management system is being created to support fire survivors through the long-term recovery process. There is no quick fix; we are each settling in for the long haul to support friends and neighbors as they rebuild after losing so much. In the next couple of weeks we will have more information to share about how the work of the committee will unfold and what next steps are available for fire survivors.
In the meanwhile, we wanted to share with you some of the amazing fundraising efforts that have taken place since October 9, which have helped the Community Foundation's Disaster Fund for Mendocino County grow to over $2 million in three months. Major funders can be found listed on the home page of our website,
. Today I want to shine a spotlight on some less large but equally big-hearted initiatives, all of which formed spontaneously on the heels of the fire to raise funds.
A number of school-based efforts raised over $10,000 between them. Most were shoes-to-the-pavement collection efforts by students, such as Ukiah Unified School District, Tree of Life Charter School, and Developing Virtue Girls School at City of 10,000 Buddhas. Willits Elementary Charter School held a walk-a-thon, and at Ukiah High, all proceeds from the 10th annual Yoshaany Rahm 5K Community Run in October went to the Disaster Fund. River Oak Charter School and Waldorf School of Mendocino County joined forces to hold a spiritual event called an "Advent Spiral."
Local organizations flexed their creative fundraising muscles and brought in over $25,000 to support fire survivors. These included a silent auction by the Comptche Community Organization, an Art from the Heart auction by the Art Center of Ukiah and the Willits Center for the Arts, a downtown fashion show "Fighting Fire with Fashion," and a History Books Fundraiser run by the Ukiah Daily Journal.
Local businesses contributing portions of proceeds included one month of tasting room sales from Roederer Estate in Philo, and a percentage of November sales from Ukiah Ford. These two efforts alone netted nearly $15,000.
The national and international attention to the fires in Redwood and Potter Valleys brought donations from Philbrook Wine Experience in Tulsa, The Wine Society of the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, and the Nakagawa Wine Company in Japan. Teacher-training students at Urban Yoga in Chicago pooled resources to make a donation. A bit closer to home, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association solicited its members for donations, which arrived at the Community Foundation office quite unexpectedly in a Priority Mail box. Together, these efforts netted over $20,000.
The performing arts came to our aid in several ways. One of the earliest fundraising efforts we learned about was by a group of Bay-area musicians under the collective name From the Ashes who collaborated on an mp3 album called "Never Eat Here Again" available for purchase on the website Bandcamp. All sales come directly to the Disaster Fund. In the East Bay, Berkeley Repertory Theatre collected donations from audience members. Online donations came in fast and furious from the Hollywood-based cast, crew, vendors, and support teams from the locally filmed HBO mini-series "Sharp Objects" after they received an e-mail from the show's producer. Back at home, Ukiah Players Theatre deserves a special mention. In addition to collecting money from audience members at several performances, UPT became an important location for collecting and providing donated basic-needs items for fire victims in the earliest weeks of the emergency.
During a recent drive through Redwood Valley, I considered the work that lays ahead for us all. The Community Foundation is made for this work - careful planning that transforms donations into community-building projects. Through our work with the Long-Term Recovery Committee we will continue creating a recovery structure that benefits those impacted by the fires. And with the support of amazing donors like those above, we will continue to build on a financial base for those in greatest need.
Resources for fire survivors can be found at www.mendocinocounty.org/community/fire-recovery. In addition, the county has established a Redwood Fire Survivor Resource Room at the Ukiah Valley Conference that is staffed Monday - Thursday from 10 AM to 2 PM, or by appointment, to offer guidance and answer questions. For more information, call 621-8817.