Community Unites to Support San Pablo Fire Victims

Members of the West Oakland San Pablo Fire Relief and Advocacy Team met Thursday afternoon.

The West Oakland San Pablo Fire Relief and Advocacy Team, composed of local pastors and leaders of community-based organizations, is seeking unite the community to raise $100,000 to meet the needs of the families that have lost everything in the March 27 fire at 2551 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland.

“We have a mission: to bring strong advocacy and support on behalf of the survivors to provide for their unmet needs,” said Pastor Debra Avery of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, who co-chairs the advocacy team along with Bishop Joseph E. Simmons, Greater Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Pastor Debra Avery

The team has raised $2,700 in the past two days, utilizing social media and email, Avery said.  “We’re depending on people to share the message with their friends and neighbors.”

The team meets weekly, and there will be weekly updates.

Bishop Joseph Simmons

While the city and county are supporting the fire survivors, there are other needs that are still falling through the cracks, she said. For example, a construction worker needs help to purchase the tools he lost in the fire so that he can return to work.

The outpouring of support from Oaklanders, particularly West Oakland residents, has been amazing, she said.

Another pressing need, said Bishop Simmons, is finding decent affordable housing for the displaced. Too many landlords are seeking to build or upgrade to market rate housing, rather than to serve the families in Oakland that in desperate need.

The city may not have the funds to create the housing, but it does have the legal clout to require landlords to change their practices, he said.

Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan has lent her voice to garner support for those who were displaced by the fire.

“In this difficult time, it is important for us to support those adversely affected by the fire,” she wrote in an email to her constituents.

Mayor Libby Schaaf has also issued a statement backing the fire survivors advocacy team.

“Over this past week, our city staff has been focused on helping them recover and taking the steps to ensure the safety of this community. I hope you will join the effort to help the families and individuals who lost so much in this fire,” Mayor Schaaf wrote.

The organization has designated the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland as the fiscal agent for the San Pablo Fire Relief and Advocacy Team Advocacy fund. Checks can be made out to: FPCO and mailed to the church at 2619 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, or you can make a donation online.

Tax-deductible charitable contributions can be made to serve the unmet needs of fire victims


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