Nov 27, 2017
By Jasmine Gold
A few weeks after the fires were over, I attended a wedding reception for one of my cousins in the East Bay. She was registered at a high-end department store. The closest store is in San Francisco, but I was able to look at her registry online, listing expensive china and kitchen items. My cousin is in her 50’s, has money, has been married before. She doesn’t need these things.
In the past, I would have simply bought something from the registry without thinking much about it. After the fires, I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything she had listed. It felt wrong to buy expensive items for someone who doesn’t need them when so many people in Sonoma County have lost everything.
Instead I chose to shop local and support artists at home. When Art Trails was postponed because of the fires, we still had the opportunity to visit artists in their studios at a later date. Many artists offered donations of their art to raise money for victims of the fire. Some gave portions of their sales to fund raisers.
It is important to help rebuild the local economy by shopping at locally-owned stores and purchasing locally made items and services. You may think that it was business-as-usual for the businesses who were not in or near the evacuated areas, but it wasn’t. All of Sonoma County was affected.
In my small shop in Cotati, we had two days with no customers. It took weeks for business to get back to normal. All throughout Sonoma County there are business owners who lost their homes, lost income, took care of employees who lost homes, and took time away from their work to help others survive.
This fire impacted just about everyone.
If you are feeling guilty about shopping or living life as usual, remind yourself that we all have a role in the recovery.
If I had lost my home, I would not be able to remain focused on my work, nor on volunteering to provide meals for first responders and those in shelters. People have been inspired to think beyond themselves and offer their time and energy as well as their money. We helped to create a new model for disaster relief. Perhaps your role is simply to continue with life as usual.
If you lost your home, you have served the role of catalyzing the amazing outpouring of love in Sonoma County and the Sonoma Strong movement. Even business owners who lost their homes have been holding fund raisers and donating. Just DOING SOMETHING helps.
As we move from the emergency phase to the recovery stage, think about where you spend your money, how you can support the local economy, and how you can help a small business survive. It takes everyone to keep Sonoma County strong. As you shop for holiday gifts think about how your money can positively contribute to Sonoma County’s economic recovery. How a thoughtful gift of your time, a useful gift or service would not only be good for the recipient, it’s good for our home as well.
There’s a lot of good coming out of this fire. Let’s keep it going.
Heart of The Vine Relief Fund is a fund established by Vintage Wine Estates and our sister wineries. We purchase gift cards and distribute them to employees, families and first responders who have lost their homes and need the absolute basics to just get re-started. This is a direct way to help—no red tape.
So many of you are wine lovers who have asked how you can help. This in one way to directly support the incredible, hard-working, dedicated people who bring our wines to you who suddenly have found themselves in need. We are matching every donation however small and will keep the giving going as the fires die down and the rebuilding begins.
Without our people, there would be no wine. We are honored to support them as we rebuild from this disaster together—#winecountrystrong
For questions and/or more information on the process of purchasing these needed gift cards for our extended wine country family who have lost their homes in these devastating fires, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond. gofundme.com/vweheartofthevine
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Community Meetings are scheduled for:
Calistoga: Feb 5 & 25,
Napa: Feb 5 & 20
Clearlake: Feb 8
Ukiah: Feb 13