Recovering from Santa Rosa CA Fire

We evacuated our home in Santa Rosa when we could see the flames of the advancing fire above the 80' high trees a 1/4 mile away.  We were lucky; the fire stopped short of our house.  Our family and our home were spared.  Our business, Sonoma Chocolatiers, has been collatoral damage.  Since the fire, business has plunged.  We have been voted the best chocolatier in Sonoma County for the last 9 years.  And since the fire, people have nearly stopped buying chocolates.  Just as the hot weather hiatus in chocolate sales is ending, the fire has eliminated much of our retail income.

At the same time, all the events in the county at which we would be selling chocolates were canceled for Octover due to the fires.   Naturally, a random power surge the previous week fried the airconditioner in our chocolate kitchen.  So we are unable to make chocolates to deliver to our wholesale customers.

My wife has early-onset Alzheimer's disease, triggered by cancer treatments 7 years ago.  The cancer is gone, but the Alzheimer's is advanced to the Moderately Severe stage.  Now she intermittently forgets who I am; our 13-year old son is scared she will start to forget him, which will likely happen in the next 1-2 years.  She was a highly skilled psychotherapist, and has not been able to work for the last 5 years.  So our only income is our chocolate and tea house.

(Meanwhile, although we are current on all payments on our house mortgage, insurance, and taxes, the agency that holds our mortgage is trying to illegally foreclose on our house.  I know, that doesn't make sense.  You're right.  It's why our lawyer is fighting them, (to be paid from any settlement) but we are in legal limbo until we can get the agency to abide by the terms of our mortgage. We got a restraining order at the end of Oct. to prevent the foreclosure until the hearing on our suit against the collection agency that holds our mortgage.)

We need cash immediately to fix the chocolate kitchen airconditioner so we can get our wholesale chocolate business back up and start delivering for the comng Holidays.  That requires about $1000 (we raised this within 12 hours of starting our campaign, which has allowed us to continue making chocolates.)

By the end of the month, we need to pay utilities, living expenses, health permits due this month, quarterly sales taxes & mortgage payment.  Expenses our business would cover but can't because all our event income for the rest of the month has been eliminated by the fires.  That's $3500.

And we need cash to buy chocolate and other ingredients, that would normally be paid from daily sales--another $2000.

And we need to pay rent, which we'd normally raise through daily sales--another $2000.

Everyone in Sonoma County knows someone who has lost a home or is displaced because of the fires.  It's the topic that strangers and friends alike are talking about, and little else.  It will take years for Santa Rosa and the county to recover from this disaster.  The impact on local businesses is less obvious but has already begun, and could be just as devastating.  

We started our business Sept. 1, 2008.  On Sept. 15, 2008, the world's financial system collapsed.  We survived that catastrophy and grew our business during the worst recession in memory into the Best Chocolatier in Sonoma County.  Now our family is facing the double impact of the Mom and wife being consumed by Alzheimer's  and the fires devastating our income.  

The generosity of the first people to participate in our campaign fixed our air conditioner.  We got through October OK, but retail sales continue to be far below historical levels, and below what we need to survive. Holiday sales should pick up in a few weeks and then we'll be OK again.  But we need to make it to the annual Chocolate Season.  Please help.  We still need at least $1000 to carry us to the time of year when we make our annual income.

Or simply come to our shop in Sebastopol and buy our chocolates and tea.  

You can also find us  at  We recommend telling us when you want the chocolates to arrive so we can send them to arrive as fresh as possible.

Thank you.

David and Susan
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David Gambill 
Santa Rosa, CA
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