Fourth District Supervisor James Gore toured the Lake County fire devastation a week ago, and after he returned to Sonoma County, talked to his wife about their upcoming campaign fundraising event, the annual “GoreBQ” scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20. “We have to change the focus, we have to do this,” Gore said he told his wife Elizabeth, who readily agreed.
Instead of filling Gore’s campaign coffers, the event became a fundraiser and celebration of generosity. Children came to make cards for firefighters and for other children who had lost their homes, volunteers cooked and served, a local band played and the donations flowed. “We took in $11,658 at the door that day,” said Elizabeth Gore, “and it all went directly to Lake County Rising,” an organization formed by the Lake County Winegrape Commission.
In the days before and after the event, Gore worked the telephone, and she reported in excess of $700,000 in pledges, much of it from the wine industry. According to Gore, Kendall-Jackson pledged $150,000 and E&J Gallo pledged $100,000. Constellation Brands and American Ag Credit pledged $50,000 immediately and set up matching fund programs with their employees that could raise much more.
Gore listed a handful of large regional companies that have opened up their employee matching programs, which means that the company will match employee donations dollar for dollar up to a specified amount. Safeway, Yahoo, Google, Intuit, Autodesk, Salesforce and Airbnb have all agreed to the matching programs.
At the event itself, Congressman Mike Thompson praised the fundraising efforts and pledged to donate all proceeds from his own fundraiser this week to the fire recovery effort.
Rob Brown, a county supervisor from lake County whose district includes fire-ravaged Middletown, attended the GoreBQ and choked up when he described his surprise and gratitude at Sonoma County’s generosity. Brown also thanked local firefighters, who attended to represent their brothers and sisters still fighting the fires in Lake County and throughout the state.
Elizabeth Gore made a point to note that rebuilding in Lake County will be a long and sustained effort, requiring help from anyone who feels moved. “It’s important that people don’t think that you have to give $100,000,” she said, “$25 or $50 means a lot to someone who has nothing.”
In Sonoma County, Redwood Credit Union and the Red Cross are collecting funds for Lake County disaster relief and hundreds of local community groups are hosting fundraisers and volunteering time.