First responder relief fund makes disbursement
By John Keane, Treasurer, Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters’ Association
Following the devastating October firestorms, community members and organizations expressed interest in donating financial assistance to those Sonoma Valley first responders, current and retired, who had sustained losses. These first responders included members from Sonoma Valley Fire, Schell Vista Fire, Glen Ellen Fire, Mayacamas Fire, Kenwood Fire, Sonoma Sheriffs and Santa Rosa Police. To facilitate the distribution of these donations, the Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters’ Association established the “First Responder Relief Fund.” A special committee of Sonoma Valley Chief Steve Akre, Joe Neely, Maci Jerry, Gary Johnson, Bill Harper and John Keane was formed to establish criteria for distribution of monies to recipients.
The fund’s first disbursement was made prior to the 2017 holiday season. Payments were based on $1,000 for a partial property loss and $2,000 for a total property loss. This initial distribution included 29 first responders with 20 receiving $2,000 and nine receiving $1,000, for a total of $49,000.
Prior to the second disbursement, the committee met and refined criteria based on actual needs, rating each on a severity loss scale of one to 10. This took into account those recipients who declined further assistance or had donated the first disbursement elsewhere, a total loss of home and property, total loss of possessions, smoke/fire damage to property, loss of accessory structures, loss of travel trailers/trucks or loss of items such as tools. The committee also decided not to accept any more donations to the “First Responder Relief Fund,” effective Feb. 15. Contributors were informed that any donations after this date would go toward the “Projects Fund” which is used for firefighter training, fire department equipment purchase, and community outreach programs.
On March 12, a second disbursement was made from donations that had been received since the first disbursement. This disbursement included 22 first responders (14 were rated at 10, four were rated at 5, two were rated at 2, and two were rated at 1). This second disbursement was equal to the remaining fund balance of $69,600.
Overall, a total of $118,600 was disbursed to first responders. This fund is now closed and the special committee disbanded. At this time I would also like to thank each committee member for taking on this difficult task.