“Fridays with Ben” – Support members affected by the fires!

Hello fellow brothers and sisters,

As if 2020 hasn’t been difficult enough, hundreds of wildfires are now burning across California forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate. In just the past week, fires have burned 1,200 square miles across the state, according to Cal Fire. We have members whose homes are threatened and, tragically, we have members who have already lost their homes. For those who haven’t been directly affected by the fires, we have all felt the impact left by the smoky air that is polluting our environment and impacting our health.

During times like these, it’s more important than ever to support our fellow members in their greatest hour of need. This week, staff from every department of CSEA participated in a texting campaign to reach those of you who live in a fire zone, to check on your well-being and offer assistance. We sent over 15,000 texts and heard from almost 6,000 of you.

We’ve lived through fires in Sonoma and Napa, in Southern California, and of course Paradise, for which we gave emergency assistance to 300 members for that incident alone. With these fires, we have already identified through the texting campaign 857 members who have been evacuated, may lose their home and could apply for assistance. The members identified in counties with evacuation orders is now estimated to be about 25,000, so one out of every 10 members. And the fires are still raging.

I hope you will support your union brothers and sisters currently impacted from the wildfires across the state of California by donating to CSEA‘s Assistance Fund at www.csea.com/assistance. 10 cents a day, $3 a month, just the cost of a cup of coffee. No donation is too small when it has the ability to provide a member with support and, rest assured, every penny given goes directly to those in need. I want to thank my brothers and sisters who have already answered the call to help by donating. We received nearly $8,000 on Wednesday alone from members giving to help their fellow members.

We do NOT have cell phone or email information for all the members impacted, so if you are in the affected fire zones and have not heard from us, please reach out to Member Benefits to request assistance by calling (866) 487-2732. You can also apply for emergency help by visiting www.csea.com/assistance.

This is what being in a union is all about. We are here for each other, to help pick us up when we fall. To help us overcome obstacles and succeed. My brothers and sisters, please stay in touch and please stay safe. We will get through this together and come out stronger than ever.

In Solidarity,

Ben Valdepeña
Association President