Read about other winners of North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Community Philanthropy Awards.

Shortly after the October fires, Tribal Chairman Chris Wright of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, owners of the River Rock Casino, decided that River Rock should develop a public service announcement for the community carrying a message of hope and strength as a statement of support — a message that had nothing to do with the casino.

“Our message was meant to help heal and inspire those that had lost everything, as well as those who were determined to help rebuild their homes and the community,” Wright said.

The fires came a week after the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas when MGM’s foundation issued a public statement that it would make a contribution to help victims and first responders. This impressed River Rock to consider making a similar announcement of its own.

River Rock was able to get the short, 30-second video produced and on the air within two weeks after the fires and bought a number of commercial TV time slots to take its message to people throughout the Bay Area. The campaign ran for almost a month.

According to Wright, some of the stations provided additional value by running the spots free of charge, however, developments costs were substantial.

“We also worked with two local nonprofit organizations, the Fire Relief Fund and the King Ridge Foundation, adding their names to the video so people could have a place where they could donate to help fire victims,” he said.

A parallel billboard campaign accompanied supplemented the video spots by thanking fire fighters, first responders, law enforcement personnel and volunteers with the hashtag #SonomaCountyStrong. These billboards appeared throughout the North Bay along the Highway 101 corridor in Petaluma, Cotati, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Ukiah and Hopland.

The lyrics of the Rogers and Hammerstein tune from the 1945 musical Carousel used in the video expressed the tribe’s message to fire victims: “Walk on, walk on, with hope in your hearts and you’ll never walk alone.” Together we rise.

Read about other winners of North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Community Philanthropy Awards.