Santa Rosa, Calif., (December 6, 2017) – More than 150 agricultural workers and their families from Sonoma County who were displaced by the fires in October will begin receiving a much needed helping hand today from a housing recovery fund recently established by the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.
Beginning today, more than $430,000 will be distributed to individuals and families who were totally displaced by the fire, incurred damage to their homes or lost wages during the historic disaster. The funds are being distributed in the form of Visa gift cards to purchase new household items, food and supplies and to help pay utilities. To support the need for temporary or new housing, funds will be paid by the Foundation directly to landlords for rent. The “Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation Wildfire Housing Support Fund” was announced on October 18 to support ag workers and their families and has raised more than $550,000 since it was established. Once the immediate needs are met, any remaining funds will be used by the Foundation to address the long-term need for affordable housing for ag workers in Sonoma County.
“Our ag workers are the heart and soul of Sonoma County agriculture and wine community so we want to do all we can to lessen the impact the fires has caused them,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers and the executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. She added, “This fund was specifically established to help any ag worker in Sonoma County and it is very gratifying to know that our neighbors who work in the dairy, fruit, vegetable and grape industries are benefitting from the generosity and compassion of people from throughout the country and around the world.”
Donations to the Foundation’s housing recovery fund include contributions from charitable foundations, businesses including wineries in San Diego County that were ravaged by wildfires a few years ago; restaurants, wine bars and wine clubs; the local community and the general public. Contributions have ranged from $50,000 to numerous individual donations of $100, $50 and $25. One hundred percent of every donation made to the Fund goes directly to support ag workers and their families in Sonoma County.
“It is our hope that these funds will eliminate a lot of anxiety and help re-establish households so the workers and their families can enjoy the Holidays and quickly get their lives back to the new normal we are all now facing,” said Steve Dutton, president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and a fifth-generation Sonoma County farmer. He added, “The generosity and compassion of all who have contributed has been simply amazing and has exceeded all expectations.”
For anyone interested in contributing to the housing fund, visit: www.scggf.org to make a contribution. SCGGF is a 501(c)(3) organization.