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Sonoma County nonprofits helping fire survivors getting share of $3 million in Red Cross grants

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The American Red Cross announced Wednesday it is awarding $3 million in grants to nonprofits in Northern and Southern California, including 10 in Sonoma County.

The grants are intended to support local organizations helping survivors of natural disasters and other trauma, particularly with mental health issues, Red Cross spokeswoman Kathryn Hecht said. The money was given to organizations helping people that may not be eligible for direct assistance from the Red Cross or other organizations like FEMA, Hecht said.

“You have a lot of smart people moving the needle forward in trying to get this community back on its feet,” after the October 2017 wildfires, she said.

Social Advocates for Youth, a Santa Rosa nonprofit that provides housing, career services and counseling to young people and families in Sonoma County, received $155,655 from the Red Cross, marketing and communications manager Shelby Harris said.

The money will pay for grief and support counseling at local libraries, the Boys and Girls Club and Altimira Middle School in Sonoma, Harris said.

“As our community continues to recover post-fire, funding like this is very essential to ensuring that particularly the youngest members of our community are able to access services for processing and recovery from the trauma,” she said.

Not all of the funding went for psychological support services.

The Hope Crisis Response Network, an Indiana-based nonprofit that has focused operations on the North Bay in recent years, received $500,000 in grants for building materials, CEO and founder Kevin Cox said. The nonprofit recently finished rehabbing a fire-damaged house near Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, and is preparing to break ground on a rebuilding project for another house in Sonoma County, Cox said.

“It’s a wonderful grant. We’re very pleased, and we’re very thankful to the Red Cross for their generosity,” he said.

Sixteen organizations were awarded grant money, including Community Action Plan of Sonoma County, Latino Service Providers and North Coast Opportunities — Lake County and Mendocino County.

Also, the Red Cross announced the winners of its annual Real Hero Awards for Northwest California. Winners including Jeff Okrepkie, president and founder of Coffey Strong, and Elizabeth Quiroz-Vasquez, president of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Second Chance Club, will be honored at a breakfast ceremony on May 17 at the Hyatt Regency Wine Country in Santa Rosa.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @iambeale.

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