SRJC staff and students seek to support Valley Fire victims


JoshuOne Barnes

Periwinkle the Clown ties balloons to amuse children displaced by the Valley Fire at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga Sept. 15. The Valley Fire has destroyed more than 585 homes and the cause of the fire is still unknown, according to CalFire.

Maci Martell, News and Managing Editor

College President Dr. Frank Chong has collaborated with administrators, faculty, trustees and students to provide aid and support to fellow staff and students affected by the Valley Fire in Lake County.

As of Tuesday morning Sept. 15, only 15 percent of the fire surrounding Lake, Napa and Sonoma Counties was contained with 585 home and hundreds of other structures destroyed, according to Cal Fire.

There are 389 enrolled Santa Rosa Junior College students and approximately 30 employees who live in Lake County, many who reside in heavily impacted areas, according to SRJC’s enrollment and payroll records.

“I want to take this time to reach out to SRJC employees and students who have been impacted by this horrific event,” Chong said in an email to SRJC staff and trustees. “It is more important than ever that we as a community band together in this difficult time.”

Student Trustee Eli Egger formed a volunteer coalition to provide relief to fire victims and he has been volunteering with the Evacuation Center at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga, which is in need of food, water and toiletries. To donate or volunteer, call the Evacuation Center at (707)-303-5379.

Chong requested instructors be sensitive and responsive to the needs of affected students. Funds from the Edwin Kent Emergency Relief Fund are available to students who may have lost textbooks and other school supplies in the fire.

Funds and other special grants will be available to affected students through Student Affairs and Engagement Programs in the Bertolini Student Center, where people can also make donations to the cause.

Robert Ethington, dean of student affairs and engagement programs, said they had already given out two grants to students who lost all of their textbooks and academic supplies in the fire, and they will continue to give out grants to those who need it as long as there are funds.

Chong’s email also stated SRJC employees may use personal necessity leave to care for property-related emergencies the fire caused. The personal leave is deducted directly from an employee’s sick leave account, though vacation leave may be used if an employee has no sick leave hours available.

Temporary housing is also available to staff affected by the fire. “We have had several employees offer their homes to employees who need temporary places to stay as a result of the Lake County fires,” said Ellen Maremont Silver, director of communication and marketing.

For information on American Red Cross relief efforts, or to donate funds to victims of the fires, visit

“Please join me in showing your compassion and concern for our own affected SRJC students and colleagues, as well as our neighbors in Lake County,” Chong said.