From Napa Valley Register: Vintners provide $10 million for new disaster fund  

Against a backdrop of fallen bricks and battered buildings in Napa, the regional winemakers’ association on Wednesday revealed the largest gift yet to help the earthquake recovery effort.

The Napa Valley Vintners announced a $10 million donation to launch the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. During a media conference at Veterans Memorial Park – a bottle’s throw away from the cracked post office and numerous red-tagged storefronts – Vintners board chairman Russ Weis said the relief fund is meant to provide Napa County residents and businesses with “immediate financial support as we wait for the state and federal agencies to come in behind us.”

Details remain to be worked out for applications for relief, but the Vintners group already is accepting donations online at http://www.napavintners.com, said Linda Reiff, the group’s president and chief executive.

“I think every single person in Napa has felt the effects of the earthquake, and our industry has also been hit very hard,” said Reiff. “But today is not about our industry, but about the community.”

The Vintners and the Napa Valley Community Foundation to disburse the money and set the rules for applying for aid. Seed money from the Vintners is drawn from its main annual fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley, the group said.

Funds will provide residents with short-term assistance covering temporary housing, food, health care and counseling, said Weis, the general manager of Silverado Vineyards. Contributions also will cover home repairs for immediate safety concerns, including replacement windows, debris removal and toppled chimneys.

Local businesses also will be able to draw on the fund to help reopen earlier, and nonprofit charities and agencies in the county can seek money to resume operations and apply for grants to better support quake victims.

County Supervisor Mark Luce praised the Vintners’ donation as an example of a community helping itself in time of crisis even before the arrival of outside aid.

“In the half-hour it took to get to my mom’s house” after the temblor at 3:20 a.m. Sunday, he told reporters, “three people had already knocked on her door to see how she was doing. Thus began the story of how Napans help each other. Government can only do one part; it’s people like the Vintners who can really help.” (1)

Earlier Wednesday, another pledge of aid came to the Napa Valley Unified School District – halfway through its first day of classes after the earthquake forced a two-day closure to inspect buildings for damage.

At a ceremony outside the Napa Valley Unified offices, representatives of the Oakland Raiders football team announced a $50,000 gift to the school district, the Napa Valley Education Foundation and the American Red Cross.

Former Raiders cornerback Willie Brown called the donation a gesture of gratitude to the city that has been the Raiders’ summer home and training camp since the team returned to the Bay Area from Los Angeles in 1995.

“As I travel around the world, I still can’t believe I get to work in a place like Napa where the people are nice, the weather is good and there’s so much wine,” he said.

Jennifer Stewart, executive director of the Education Foundation, said the Raiders’ gift will go to teachers, who can then apply for funds to replace classroom supplies and equipment damaged by the quake, including computers, “smart boards” (interactive white board) and books.

The NFL franchise and Red Cross also announced a cellphone-based donation drive to aid Napa County earthquake victims, in which donors can contribute $10 by text-messaging the word “REDCROSS” to 90999. The team will promote the text-to-give effort Thursday night to fans at O.co Coliseum, during its preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

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