Distribution of Donor Funds Will Support Youth in the Impacted Communities
Kelseyville, Calif. October 22, 2015 – Organizers of the #LakeCountyRising fundraising effort report they have begun distributing funds from its Fire Relief Fund with the first round of giving designed to support the needs of youth in the impacted communities. The organization has been working directly with community leaders to help identify some of the most pressing community needs and funding gaps. As a result, an initial round of checks are being distributed to the following beneficiaries:
$40,000 to the Middletown Unified School District to support the following programs: Sixth Grade Science Camp for students attending elementary schools in Cobb, Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake; the K-12 music program; gift cards for students impacted by the fire.
$10,000 to the Lake County Fair Foundation to support Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H youth programs to assist with the replacement of jackets, uniforms, equipment, tack and animal needs.
$10,000 to the Lake Family Resource Center to support immediate housing and other needs of client families who lost homes in the fire.
Based on an initial assessment of community needs, the steering committee agreed to distribute $60,000 of the funds raised to date to help restore some sense of normalcy for children who have suffered as a result of the fire. Many youth lost equipment, instruments, supplies, uniforms, even animals used in agricultural programs, all of which are vital to their extracurricular activities. Also at risk are other youth programs, like science camp and music programs, which require monetary support through fundraising drives in their communities – a difficult task given the devastation of the Valley Fire.
Donors Contribute More Than $500,000
In the first few days after the Valley Fire swept through the southern part of Lake County and decimated communities like Cobb, Middletown and Anderson Springs, #LakeCountyRising was established to provide a way for individuals and businesses to respond. “The outpouring of support has been remarkable,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission. To date, more than $500,000 has been donated or pledged to the Lake County Rising Fire Relief Fund.
The fundraising effort was kicked off with a $50,000 donation from Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards. “We hope this will motivate other people to give,” Beckstoffer said at the time. Since then, numerous businesses, associations and individuals have generously offered their support to survivors of the Valley Fire with contributions to #LakeCountyRising including:
U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and supporters: $52,500. “Tragedies have a way of showing what a community is made of, and the Valley Fire is no different. This is one of the worst fires in California’s history, but it’s shown the absolute best of Lake County. We are a community of strength, resolve, gratitude and generosity, and that is how I know Lake County will rise again,” said U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson.
Trinchero Family Estates: $100,000. “We were saddened to see the devastation caused by the recent Valley Fire,” said Roger Trinchero, Chairman and CEO of Trinchero Family Estates. “We know these funds will be put to good use in helping residents in Lake and Napa counties rebuild their homes and their lives.”
Savings Bank of Mendocino County: $20,000. “We are saddened by the tremendous loss our neighbors have suffered as a result of the Valley Fire,” said David Weiss, Savings Bank Director. “Our employees, executives and stockholders live and work in these communities, and we are committed to helping our neighbors and local businesses who were affected by the Valley Fire through recovery and rebuilding.”
Calpine Corporation: $15,000. Calpine’s geothermal operations at The Geysers is one of Lake County’s largest employers and many of its employees lost homes in the Valley Fire. “Calpine has supported #LakeCountyRising from the beginning,” said Danielle Matthews Seperas, Manager, Government & Community Affairs at Calpine. “We feel this was the one local organization that could immediately help those impacted by the fire. All of our events and outreach are focused on supporting this cause so we can help our community rebuild as quickly as possible.”
The Hess Collection: $25,000. “We experienced devastation firsthand – we are still rebuilding after the Napa earthquake,” said Tim Persson, CEO, Hess Family Wine Estates. “Lake County is part of the Hess Community and we feel strongly about helping the recovery from this devastation.”
Rabobank N.A.: $25,000. “Working with clients in Lake County, we have witnessed the human toll of this fire firsthand,” said Charles Day, area manager for Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Division on the North Coast. “The incredible scale of the damage and hardship it has caused prompted Rabobank to do what we could to aid the relief effort.”
Homestake Mining Company: $5,000. “Homestake has been a part of this community for over 30 years, and we are saddened by the extensive losses suffered by so many of our neighbors in Lake County. Our hope is that this contribution will provide some needed relief to those in need and encourage other businesses and individuals to help where they can,” said Peggie King, McLaughlin Mine Closure Manager, Homestake Mining Company (Barrick Gold Corporation).
Cache Creek Vineyards and others: $7,250. “At Cache Creek Vineyards, we wanted to do something to help those affected by the fires so we began making plans for a benefit concert. With the generous support of many individuals and businesses who donated to our silent auction and provided goods and services to sponsor our concert, we were able to raise $14,500,” said Don Van Pelt, Owner, Cache Creek Vineyards. The proceeds were split between two funds, including the Lake County Rising Fire Relief Fund.
The Lake County Wine Alliance, a 501(c)(3) organization, is managing the collection and distribution of funds for #LakeCountyRising. According to Bill Groody, Marketing Director of the Wine Alliance, more than 30 wineries, vineyard owners and other businesses have donated to #LakeCountyRising, and more than 200 individuals have supported the fundraising effort. “It’s extremely gratifying to see that what started out as a wine industry response to the Valley Fire has blossomed into a broad-based response, with donations coming in from places as far away as Alaska, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Steering Committee Created, Will Guide Future Fundraising and Distribution
As donations to the Lake County Rising Fire Relief Fund began to arrive, organizers recognized the need to establish a steering committee that could guide the distribution of funds to assist individuals, businesses and organizations where the need is acutely felt, as well as generate awareness and solicit funds beyond Lake County borders. Several prominent leaders in the local community as well as leaders from neighboring counties stepped up to serve in this capacity to help support a broad fundraising effort, particularly in Napa, Sonoma and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Members of the steering committee include Kaj Ahlmann, President, Lake County Wine Alliance, and Owner, Six Sigma Ranch; Andy Beckstoffer, Chair and Owner, Beckstoffer Vineyards; Rob Brown, District 5 Supervisor, County of Lake; Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dell; Peter Molnar, Partner and General Manager, Obsidian Ridge Vineyard; Brad Onorato, District Representative for U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson; Tiffany Ortega, Assistant Administrator, Sutter Lakeside Hospital.
From the start, U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown have been integral in providing insight, support and on-the-ground experience for the #LakeCountyRising organizers and steering committee.
From a practical perspective, the steering committee provides leadership and guidance while the primary organizers – the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association and Lake County Wine Alliance – provide “on the ground” support. This support includes collaboration with community leaders and attendance at community meetings, communicating with local agencies and maintaining the fundraising infrastructure to enable ongoing donations and distributions.
Future giving will be based on an in-depth community needs assessment currently underway and identification of needs not covered by other funding sources. Areas of focus will include community-building activities to support long-term recovery efforts for the communities of Middletown and Cobb.