Since the fires were first reported, I’ve been constantly impressed and inspired by the strength and togetherness of our community. Business people, residents (both current and former) and people in general concerned with or connected to the North Bay have come together to make a difference. Just one example is the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, a partnership led by Redwood Credit Union, Senator Mike McGuire and The Press Democrat, that quickly united community leaders and generous businesses to help raise more than $29 million for victims of the fire.

Now, after taking care of the basic needs of survivors, we all turn to the New Year and the task of rebuilding. We realize that what the fires destroyed in a matter of days will take months and years to fully restore. Many have created new organizations aimed specifically at the recovery of the North Bay. Some have taken part in this section, including our friends at #GoSoCo, the Rebuild North Bay Foundation, and the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County.

Predating the fires by about 18 months, Sonoma Media Investments (SMI) launched its “Local Matters” campaign to illustrate the importance of local news and issues, as well as the need to support local businesses. Home to The Press Democrat, the Petaluma Argus-Courier, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, and Sonoma Magazine, SMI is committed to recognizing the value and necessity of local partnerships. Without strong business ties, a healthy local economy and subscribers, we can’t provide robust, high-quality local journalism. And, local journalism is essential to connect the many aspects of our community – the residents, parents, children, businesses, government leaders and institutions that keep the North Bay strong.

Which brings us to this section – Rebuild North Bay. From inspirational stories of survival to the need for volunteers, from advice on mental health to advice on hiring a reputable contractor, the stories in these pages are designed to help all people affected directly or indirectly by the fires.

I hope you find these articles useful, informative and encouraging.

This is a special advertising section. The material was prepared by the advertising department and did not involve the reporting or editing staff of The Press Democrat.