Petaluma’s extraordinary generosity is without question one of its chief virtues as a community. Helping neighbors in need is a longstanding tradition here, with local residents regularly donating, volunteering and pitching in to help those less fortunate.

One of the first things many newcomers learn upon arriving here is that Petaluma has a proportionately large cadre of nonprofits for a city of its size, with hard-working volunteers who regularly step up to make life better for others.

Many organizations exist to help seniors, youth, homeless and indigent residents who often, despite our community’s relative affluence, go to bed hungry at night. To help people in need, nonprofit groups hold fundraisers nearly every week at a restaurant, theater or outdoor venue. Often, they are sold out.

Compassionate Petalumans helped our neighbors who suffered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. When wildfires hit Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley, Petaluma initially opened shelters that housed and fed thousands of evacuees. Many in Petaluma have opened their homes to displaced friends and family or to strangers through organizations like the Share Sonoma County home-sharing program operated by Petaluma People Services Center.

Petalumans have also opened their wallets, giving money to fire relief efforts like the Redwood Credit Union fund, which has raised more than $14 million to date. While all of this charitable fire recovery work is necessary, Petaluma’s generosity is about to be tested.

Local non-profit groups that rely on donations to provide essential services still need your support. Many of these organizations also provide services to fire victims. PEP Housing, for example, is working to find housing for displaced seniors. COTS, which battles homelessness, is assisting some of the thousands who have suddenly found themselves homeless.

In a crisis, donor fatigue can become a reality. This results when people rush to the immediate aid of the victims, but then turn their attention away once the initial crisis is over. The rebuilding effort in Sonoma County will take years and require ongoing contributions by everyone in our community.

Many of our neighbors are still without jobs, homes or adequate financial resources, with many struggling to put food on the table or simply find shelter as the weather turns colder and wetter.

Now, more than ever before, these people need your generous financial support.