North Bay Fires: CTA’s Disaster Relief Fund

Fire Hidden valley satellite school

Hidden Valley Satellite School in Santa Rosa was an elementary school to about 80 students. Photo by HVS teacher Kim McKay.

The devastating fires in Northern California have left many without loved ones, homes and businesses. Students and educators have been hit hard. Entire school districts have closed in the endangered areas, as well as areas where air quality has deteriorated due to smoke.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the many students, fellow educators and families impacted by the wildfires,” says CTA President Eric Heins.

Hidden Valley Satellite School fire

Hidden Valley Satellite School was completely destroyed by the fires. Photo by HVS teacher Kim McKay.

Will Lyon, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association (SRTA), which represents nearly 1,000 educators in the Santa Rosa City Schools district, says that at least 40 educators lost their homes and everything in them in his district alone. Dozens of educators are displaced, and at least one school site has been destroyed.

“Our students, friends and loved ones have lost so much,” Lyon says. “In the coming weeks and months, our members will focus our energy on collaborating with and healing our district and community. Our number one priority will be healing our community.”

Lyon and SRTA have set up a crowdfunding donation page for educators who have lost homes on YouCaring.

Other members from North Bay chapters, such as the Valley of the Moon Teachers Association (VMTA), have been similarly affected.

Valley of the Moon Teachers Association members volunteer at a local evacuation center.

Fire Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon Teachers Association member Caryn Prince, a special ed teacher at Altimira Middle School, volunteers at an evacuation center.

VMTA President Renea Magnani was among those who evacuated, but she and fellow members still found time to volunteer at a local evacuation center.

CTA also stands ready to help. Members who have been impacted by the fires or have suffered other significant losses can take advantage of CTA’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The fund provides four different grants:
Standard: Up to $1,500 for significant economic hardship related to damage to the member’s primary residence, displacement, or disruption in required utilities.
Catastrophic: Recipients of the Standard Grant may be eligible for up to another $1,500 if damages exceed $50,000.
Temporary Displacement: Up to $500 for members who are displaced from their primary residence as the result of a disaster (for more than 7 days), but do not meet all the requirements for a Standard Grant.
School Site: Up to $500 for damage to classrooms.

Any active CTA, Student CTA or CTA/NEA-Retired member in good standing is eligible to apply. Members can use their iPhone and Android phone apps to start an application. Applications require the signature of a chapter representative, and checks are usually sent to the chapter for distribution to the member. For more information about the grants and eligibility, go to CTA Member Benefits.

Money for the Disaster Relief Fund comes directly from members’ voluntary tax-deductible contributions. Thanks to this tradition of good will and generosity, members can turn to CTA for assistance with dignity.

California Casualty’s claims team is immediately available to help policy holders who have been affected by the fires. Call 800-800-9410.

Mike Myslinski contributed to this report. Photos courtesy Cheryl Coldiron.


How to Help

Fire4 Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon Teachers Association member Laura Roberts, math teacher at Altimira Middle School, helping out at an evacuation center.