SANTA ROSA — A month after the start of devastating wildfires, hundreds of Sonoma County residents gathered on Saturday (Nov. 11) to take another step in the recovery process.
Billed as “Sonoma Strong: A Community Gathering,” and held in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square, the event featured live music, short speeches, food trucks, balloons and a children’s activity area. It was a way for the community to gather, to thank first responders and to begin rebuilding.
About 40 PG&E volunteers handed out orange and blue balloons and candy, and they shared safety information. They also helped with games and art activities staged by the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County.
The highlight for many, though, was the free T-shirts that were distributed by PG&E, Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 and the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association. The dark blue shirts featured the slogan “SANTA ROSA STRONG” on the back with a big red heart replacing the “O” in STRONG. Other organizers of the event included the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce, the City of Santa Rosa, the County of Sonoma and others.
Ashleigh Hodoh, a PG&E construction inspector based in Napa, was one of those volunteers.
“It was a no brainer for me to volunteer at the event,” she said. “Because some of my most meaningful connections through PG&E were affected, I wanted to be able to give back in a positive way. To provide an afternoon of relief while meeting some of these families face to face and putting smiles on kids’ faces in this difficult time meant a lot to me as I hope it did for them.”
Dave Canny, the senior manager for PG&E’s Sonoma Division, said supporting the community is something that the company and its employees do year-round, not just when a disaster strikes. That said, the roster of volunteers filled up quickly for this event as people want to support those who were impacted by the wildfires. Canny spent much of his time at the spinning prize wheel where people could win prizes for correctly answering questions about electric and gas safety.
“It’s a very strong, tightknit community that we’ve been a part of for over 100 years,” Canny said. “We have a long-standing commitment to the community through our volunteerism as well as our core business. We’re really excited to be here today.”
Pat Hogan, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations, thanked the volunteers and jumped right in to hand out the T-shirts. He noted that thousands of employees were involved in restoring gas and electric service after the fires and that the company will remain steadfastly involved during the recovery and rebuilding process.
“PG&E played a big part in the response to these wildfires. We’re also going to continue to play a big part in rebuilding these communities and making them even more resilient than they were before, and this is really the start of that,” Hogan said. “That support will continue.”
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