Pleasanton North Rotary (PNR) members assembled before their laptops at their homes Oct. 22 to participate in an evening-long virtual event that combined gourmet meal preparation with fund-raising for the survivors this year’s historic, northern California wild fires.
Sixty-two members and guests filled the squares in a ZOOM meeting led by event organizers and PNR members Darcy DeCoite and Shawn Henley. Contributions generated from on-line auctions were directed to the PNR Foundation for distribution to the American Red Cross Northern California Fire Relief Fund and units of the Pleasanton/Livermore Fire Department.
The fund-raiser was held while many northern California communities were still threatened by wildfires that have killed at least 30 people, burned more than 4.1 million acres, and destroyed 9200 structures. The Red Cross responded by serving more than 425,000 meals and paying for over 250,000 hotel stays.
A young couple and their infant child were among victims who lost homes and possessions to the fires. In a video interview played during the fund-raiser, they admitted through tears that they would not have known where to turn for help if the Red Cross had not offered them temporary housing and other assistance.
Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (LPFD) crews were assigned to fire lines for more than two months, often working 24-hour shifts and sleeping in the field. “’These are great people, willing to risk their lives for us,” Darcy said after playing a video that PNR Past President Gina Piper and she prepared to document essential work performed by these firefighters.
PNR members and guests bid on the right to sponsor 10 baskets filled with food, games, and other popular items for each firehouse in the Livermore/Pleasanton department.
The auction item drawing the highest bid of $1500 was a painting on canvas prepared especially for the fundraiser by PNR member Debra Covert. It features a patriotic image of a firefighter holding an axe with an American flag in the background. Framed, historical photos of Pleasanton firefighters and equipment from the past 120 years were also popular auction items.
Dinner was a do-it-yourself affair with ingredients and expert video cooking instructions by Francis X. Hogan, executive chef at Sabio on Main, Pleasanton. Everyone dined on butternut rugosa squash soup and grilled gulf shrimp niçoise salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, prepared at their homes with ingredients and step-by-step instructions from Chef Francis. Wine was provided by Nottingham Cellars.
PHOTO: Pleasanton North Rotary members and guests gathered on Oct. 20, 2020, in a Covid-safe setting at the home of Shawn Henley, one of several sites connected with ZOOM to prepare a gourmet dinner and participate in an auction benefiting the survivors of Northern California’s 2020 wildfires.