When: Wednesday June 23 at 2 p.m.
Or: Napa County Fire Department Station 12, 7401 Solano Avenue, Yountville, CA
What: Bay Area News Celebrity Diane Dwyer to Donate $ 75,000 to 3 Firefighters Who Lost Their Home While Fighting 2020 Wildfires
YOUNTVILLE, California, June 18, 2021– (BUSINESS WIRE) – Summit Bank Foundation, led by the founder of the bank and CEO Shirley Nelson, send a message to first responders who were deeply affected by the 2019/20 wildfires… THANK YOU! The Foundation raised $ 83,001 to meet the unprecedented needs of those severely affected and lost their homes in personal sacrifice during fire relief efforts.
“Being a first responder requires a special type of person who is willing to learn emergency skills and risk their personal safety to protect others,” explains Yountville Mayor John Dunbar. “Our professional firefighters and law enforcement demonstrate a unique bravery and commitment to community service.”
A couple of firefighters who will get married soon, Brandon North and Rebecca Brown-Dehner, receives a generous and well-deserved wedding gift of $ 50,000 from the Foundation’s Fire Relief Effort fund.
Napa Valley’s top two Fire Academy graduates, Brandon and Rebecca felt ready for any challenge, until the LNU Lightning Complex fire started in 2020. The blaze quickly spread through their homes. community due to violent variations in the wind, leaving them little time to keep the fire in check, let alone collect their own belongings.
Rebecca was able to contact her father in just 20 minutes to save their family’s longtime memories, while Brandon remained steadfast in his fight against Mother Nature.
Sadly, both of their family homes burned to the ground even as Brandon and Rebecca continued to struggle to protect the others from similar devastation. They fought every moment until the fires were finally put out. The rest of the community has been saved, but the scars are still present.
After going through so much together and after the fires disappeared, Brandon knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Rebecca and proposed… She said YES! However, their lives are still devastated as they still live in a local trailer park. Relief funds from the Summit Bank Foundation will help them put down a down payment on their first home together.
“You cannot be more deserving than these good people, who gave even when it meant losing something so close to them,” comments Bill Wheeler, owner of Black Tie Transportation and member of the Foundation’s board of directors. This fundraising effort began in 2020 with matching $ 20,000 from the Summit Bank Foundation and supported by community support for deserving first responders.
Firefighter Mitchell Wilms will also receive a financial gift of gratitude from the Summit Bank Foundation for their courage and perseverance during the LNU Lightning Complex fire. He saved the lives and homes of many others in his community, at the cost of losing his family’s home and property. Mitchell began his firefighting journey three years ago by enrolling in his local fire department’s Young Explorers program. After completing this program, he knew this was his calling in life and pursued his dream of becoming a firefighter.
Upon graduating from Pope Valley’s Fire Academy in the spring of 2020, he immediately deployed for firefighters and medical calls. He volunteered to join strike teams outside of the county to fight the Apple and Lake fires in Los Angeles. He appreciated the feeling of protecting local communities from the loss of their homes and lives. It was during his second strike mission that he learned of the start of the LNU fire in his hometown of Napa. He returned to the area just in time to prevent the spread from moving further east, but the damage was devastating.
Mitchell was able to contact his family just before their house was set on fire. Her family was safe, along with her pets and livestock, but her childhood home was gone. Firefighters gave him the option of either leaving the response team and hanging up his helmet and jacket, or continuing to fight for those who needed his help saving their homes.
“The Summit Bank Foundation wants to make a difference for those who sacrificed themselves for others,” adds CEO Shirley Nelson. “People are trying to rebuild their lives, and we want to be the first to support those who bravely fought the fires. “
Today Mitchell and his family reside in his late grandfather’s former home. Although they are grateful to have a roof over their heads, the house is in dire need of repair. He works to replace water and plumbing systems that have been damaged by fire or are rotting with age. He also lost his collection of ranching equipment, creating more difficulties for him and his family with their cattle. His personal collection of fishing gear was also lost in the fire. He intends to invest Summit Bank Foundation funding in a new beginning for his family.
“During last year’s devastating fires, Mitchell, Rebecca and Brandon remained on the lines of fire to help protect our county, while suffering their own tragic losses,” recalls Napa County Fire Chief Geoff Belyea. “Their bravery and dedication to their community is remarkable.
Mayor John Dunbar agrees. “In Napa County we live with a high fire risk which is the reality today,” he adds. “We need people like Rebecca, Brandon and Mitchell who are ready and willing to help protect us, even when they are going through their own crisis. Thanks to Shirley Nelson and the Summit Bank Foundation for recognizing and rewarding their heroic efforts. “
View the source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210618005514/en/
Shirley Nelson, President and CEO, Summit Bank Foundation
2969 Broadway | Oakland, CA 94611 Direct 510.268-3417 | Fax 510.628.0416