Noe Valley Voice November 2011
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Benefit Raises $4,500 for 24th Street Residents Displaced by Fire

By Tim Innes

More than 80 friends and neighbors jammed Valley Tavern on Oct. 6 to lend moral and financial support to seven 24th Street residents who were burned out of their apartments Sept. 10.

The benefit, which featured a raffle and a live auction conducted by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, raised $4,500 for the residents, some of whom lost everything in the two-alarm blaze except the clothes they were wearing.

The fire caused an estimated $950,000 in damage to the building at 4049-51 24th St., which contained a Radio Shack at street level and apartments on the second and third floors.

All of the raffle and auction items—from an Apple iPad to gift cards from Whole Foods, Bernie’s Coffee, Le Zinc, Noe Valley Bakery, and Valley Tavern—were donated. A pair of VIP tickets to a sold-out appearance by celebrated chef Ferran Adrią, donated by Omnivore Books, and a day of brewing with Elizabeth Street Brewery sparked spirited bidding. Among the big winners were Noe Valleyans Kathy Lipscomb, Steve Boeddeker, and Carina Ost.

The sponsors of the Noe Valley Harvest Festival contributed another $1,000.

“The benefit went very well,” said Cath­erine Bergstrom, who organized the event with the Valley Tavern’s Vince Hogan. “It was very positive, upbeat. A lot of neighbors came out. They were very generous.”

Many of the attendees remained long after the benefit was over, playing records on the jukebox or demonstrating their karaoke chops.

Bergstrom, a publicist who lives on Castro Street, around the corner from the site of the fire, said that although she hadn’t known any of the victims, organizing the benefit “just seemed like the right thing to do. We all have difficult times and need assistance.… It made me so happy to (be able) to help them. I thank them for the privilege.”

Feeling the love at the benefit were six of the tenants—the seventh was out of town. Second-floor resident Christina Vo said she received a lot of positive feedback to her open letter to the community that the Voice published last month. “It makes me more certain that the path I’m on to become a writer is…the right one.”

Vo said the seven, who have relocated to the Castro while their apartments are being repaired, have not decided how funds will be divided, but “the majority will go to [third-floor residents] Randy, Stella, and Gonzalo, since they lost a lot more than we did.”

Photographer Randy Drevland, whose room at the rear of the third floor was a charred ruin, lost everything, including his cameras, lenses, and photos.

But his sense of humor survived. “I guess I have to embrace walking around naked (I should fit in in the Haight or Castro),” he joked in a blog post.

In a more serious vein, Drevland thanked “the firefighters, the Red Cross, Patxi’s Pizza for generously feeding us, Valley Tavern for providing us a home and giving us drinks, and all of Noe Valley. The people in this neighborhood are amazing.”

Anyone still wishing to help may send a contribution to account number 3191560626 at the Wells Fargo Bank office at 4045 24th St.