WE COULD ALL smell the smoke in the air the morning of October 10th, the day after multiple wildfires started in Sonoma County. The atmosphere was hazy and heavy with ash and mourning after news broke of the devastation the fires had caused. With more than 40 lives lost, and thousands evacuated from their homes, the fire is estimated to be the most detrimental California has ever seen.
But once the smoke cleared, something else remained hanging in the air: hope. In the aftermath of the tragedy, many members of the Stanford community rallied together to support the victims of the flames. Katherine Moldow held a supplies drive to gather clothing, blankets, and other much-needed items for evacuees. Jensen Neff designed and sold stickers to raise money for the cause. And Margaret Murray, Angela Black, Kiki Couchman, Emma Glickman, and Britt Mikkelson organized a benefit concert hosted by Kappa Alpha, sweetly titled Voices for the Vineyards. The concert featured performances by Penelope Edmonds, Carly Steyer, Emma Hard, Jordan Ewert, Mason Tufuga, Carrie Monahan, Luigi Sambuy, and more, and raised over $5,200. Below, we will hear from a few of the people who organized the event and chat about why they were inspired to support the cause.
PULSE: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF THE FIRES IN SONOMA?
MARGARET MURRAY: Honestly, when disasters like this happen, I usually feel helpless. However, a few of my friends were talking about how we need to stop waiting for other people to take action. At Stanford, with so many talented friends around us, we have the perfect opportunity to impact the world for good.
ANGELA BLACK: As soon as I heard about the fires, I made sure all my North Bay friends were safe. In a short few days, some of them had lost their homes, schools, community centers and more. Almost everyone I knew from that area was evacuated. One of my close friends' high school even burned down.
When Margaret approached me with the idea to throw a concert to benefit all those affected by the wildfires, there was no way I was going to say anything other than an absolute yes. With my experience with SCN, which I help co-direct, I felt like I had the knowledge and resources to help support Marge.
KIKI COUCHMAN: I was inspired to get involved because I’m from Sonoma. My family was evacuated (our whole town was) and the flames burned up to the edges of our town. Luckily most of our town survived. However, I had over five friends whose homes were burned to the ground and friends whose family businesses were totally destroyed. My dad also works in the wine business, and so many vineyards were horribly damaged. It's weird because in a natural disaster there really is no one to blame. Everyone is a victim. So I just felt I needed to do something rather than feel so hopeless.
P: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SEE YOUR FELLOW STANFORD STUDENTS COME TOGETHER FOR A CAUSE?
AB: Seeing students come together is always amazing, but when it's for a good cause, it's even better. So many people contributed to the creation of the concert and so many more came to support. I can still feel the positive energy
KC: It’s The most awesome, inspiring thing ever! With everything going on in the world, the wildfires triggered a conversation between my friends and I…We have become extremely desensitized to these catastrophic events and so we wanted to find a way to raise awareness and also help my local community. It was all so warm and happy and cute to see everyone come out and enjoy our community and support a great cause.
P: ARE THERE ANY OTHER WAYS PULSE READERS CAN CONTINUE THE SUPPORT FOR FIRE VICTIMS?
KC: Yes, [there are] lots of different funds! You can donate to Redwood Empire Food Bank directly or give to UndocuFund, which helps undocumented immigrants who don’t qualify for assistance from FEMA. This is especially important because over 30,000 undocumented immigrants live in Sonoma County.
By: Haley Farnsworth