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Thank you, Klay

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Klay Thompson’s efforts for the victims of the North Bay fires go above and beyond. And I am grateful for that.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Dub Nation. I just wanted to take a few minutes of your time to tell you how much it means to me that Klay Thompson has taken a personal interest in helping the victims of the North Bay fires.

I grew up for the most part in Vallejo. I remember countless weekends spent in my mom’s car as she drove us around Napa and Sonoma counties. We were poor, so it was a relatively cheap way to spend an afternoon, just enjoying the sights of the hills and the land. A lot of that beauty is marred, now. But the region will survive.

I grew up to become a resident of Sonoma County. And I would still be there today if I could afford to live there. Unfortunately, I lost my job and ended up being priced out of the housing market. So I left the Bay Area entirely and moved a couple of hours north.

This is a situation that a lot of Sonoma County residents may be facing in the near future. In a country currently ravaged and spread thin by natural disasters, in an area already struggling with an affordable housing crisis, a significant percentage of existing homes burned down incredibly, and horrifically fast.

This disaster puts a lot of people in a position where they will need to find new housing while making many more face the reality that they may not be able to afford to. All while having nothing to their name aside from what they could hurriedly gather in the middle of the night in the small amount of time they had to escape.

Though suspected, there is not yet concrete proof that the fires are already causing price gauging in Sonoma County rent. However, rents have been increasing significantly in the North Bay over the last few years. When I left Sonoma County, Santa Rosa was the last beacon of somewhat affordable housing left.

Maybe that wasn’t still the case before the fires, but it definitely will not be now.

Those who owned have to decide whether to rebuild or to move on. Maybe buy elsewhere in an overpopulated and drastically shrunken market, if they can.

Those who rented may never again find anything in their price range and be forced out. I can relate, in a much less severe way.

Sonoma County, though not my hometown, is where I left my heart. I moved there when my parents left the Bay Area. I fell in love with Petaluma and lived all over that town. Before I became a noted hermit where I am now, I spent most of my time downtown in Petaluma, or in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Cotati, Penngrove, all over. And they are places I miss dearly.

Watching everyone I left behind either lose everything, have to evacuate, or just live in severe uncertainty over the future of all of these places was so incredibly awful.

Even if I hadn’t lived there, there’s a level of basic human empathy for anyone witnessing a terrifying disaster like this. Unfortunately, with multiple hurricanes, mass shootings and the general state of bad news sweeping through our news feeds in the blink of an eye, Northern California didn’t get a lot of national attention. So it meant a lot when Klay Thompson made sure we knew we had his.

Sonoma County is where I fell in love with the Warriors. I remember a coworker dragging us from bar to bar to find a bartender they could bribe to turn the Warriors game on during the “We Believe” era, and I was hooked.

All of that said, I cannot fully articulate how much it means to me to have Klay Thompson take a personal and meaningful interest in this disaster relief effort.

It would have been easy for Thompson to kick in some money to the general fund that all of the Bay Area sports teams were supporting, but he did better than that.

That general fund was for the Red Cross, whom a lot of us in the many affected areas across the county have deep concerns about with regards to how they utilize resources, especially local resources.

So when I saw that Thompson was not only pledging $1,000 per point he scored, but also that it was going to the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief fund, my heart grew more sizes than the Grinch’s did on Christmas morning.

He could have left it at that, but he took the time to have a page built where people could pledge to donate with him, and has been promoting it regularly, prompting other local athletes, such as Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants, to join in.

These extra efforts really show that he genuinely cares and I know I’m not the only one who has appreciated it.

Which is why I just want to say a hearty thank you to Klay Thompson. From everyone affected by the fires, everyone in the area, and everyone for whom the area is still looming large in their hearts this month. Thank you.

There will still be a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and months, even years, but as a gesture of support, this was very thoughtful and appreciated.

You can still join Klay’s efforts over at his pledge site for Sunday night’s game.