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Valley Fire victims

Rosa and Ociel lost their Middletown home in the Valley Fire.

From school penny jars to large donations like the initial grant provided by the Napa Valley Vintners, the UpValley Family Centers received a total of $357,628 in donations from individuals, businesses, community groups, schools and foundations to aid Valley Fire victims.

“It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the Valley Fire ravaged nearby communities – and that nearly a year later the Clayton Fire hit, bringing a new wave of grief,” said Jenny Ocon, Executive Director of the UpValley Family Centers. Over this time, my appreciation has grown for the importance of close-knit community ties, and the value that family resource centers play in caring for our most vulnerable neighbors in times of need. Thanks to hundreds of donors and volunteers from near and far, we were able to help over 1,500 Valley Fire victims begin a process of recovery. Each donation of time and treasure made a difference.”

From September 2015 through June 2016, we provided assistance in a variety of ways including financial help for housing-related expenses like security deposits and rental assistance and with essential basic support including food, gas, transportation, medical bills and utility bills.

Here is just one story of hundreds: Rosa and Ociel are long-time residents of Middletown, living there more than 45 years. Rosa is employed at a Napa County resort. They raised three children in the house that they owned for many years. Their two oldest children are married and have careers. Their youngest child was away at college when the disaster struck.

Rosa and Ociel were forced to evacuate along with thousands of people, and came to the Calistoga Fairgrounds on Sept. 12. They received assistance from UVFC, including food and gas cards at the beginning of their stay at the shelter.

About four days later, they learned that their house was completely burned down and heard about the opportunity to receive financial assistance and case management through UVFC. They applied, requesting funds for a down payment for a trailer that could serve them as a residence while rebuilding their home.

They obtained a loan from their bank, and along with the financial assistance they received through our program, they purchased a trailer. They initially parked the trailer in the backyard of a kind local Calistoga business woman’s residence, where they stayed until their property was cleaned of debris and cleared for return. They are now living on their property in the trailer, and in the process of rebuilding their home.

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