Photo Credit: Andres Photography

After devastating fires hit residential areas in California’s Sonoma Wine Country in October, the hospitality industry showed its strength by coming out to support neighbors who lost everything. Marla Bedrosian, executive director of global sales for Trump National Doral, called a day of service at the beginning of March “Hospitality for Humanity.”

A group of 40 local hotel employees and planners volunteered at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore building-materials recycling shop in Santa Rosa on a Saturday to paint, clean and help their neighbors rebuild. ReStore raises money for community rebuilding, including the tiny cottage project, which will build portable homes for families who lost theirs in the fire. Many of these fire victims had little or no insurance coverage. “This will offer them shelter in their own surroundings as they start to rebuild their homes,” Bedrosian said.

Many of the volunteers told Bedrosian they had wanted to help but didn’t know how to do so effectively. “We were thrilled we could provide this platform for them,” Bedrosian said. She witnessed the fires’ devastation near her own home in the Northern Santa Rosa area and near Sugarloaf Vineyards in Kenwood. “We were among the lucky ones,” she explained. “We have too many friends who lost their homes.”

Tourism is a leading source of jobs in California’s Wine Country, and although thousands of acres burned last year, most wineries were untouched. A checkerboard of homes was destroyed. During the emergency, many local hotels opened their doors to fire crews and those evacuated, while restaurants donated food and held fundraisers for victims. Their effort has come to be known on billboards and T-shirts as #SonomaStrong.

The industry came out to support the effort with donations, including representatives from Doral National, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Hotel Nikko San Francisco, Benchmark Destinations, Maritur DMC Mexico, Twomey Cellars, Fairmont Grand del Mar, The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Trump Hotels.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn chefs provided lunch for the volunteers.