July 16, 2019

Woolsey Fire Relief for Students

Malibu Fire Relief
The Santa Monica College Foundation raised more than $51,000 for SMC students who lost their homes in the devastating 2018 Woolsey Fire. Five SMC students have received relief awards.

In the Aftermath of Woolsey Fire, SMC Students Find Help—and Hope

Five Students Receive Financial Assistance from Santa Monica College Foundation

SANTA MONICA, CA—Five Santa Monica College (SMC) students who lost their homes in the devastating November 2018 Woolsey Fire have received “relief awards” from the SMC Foundation. The foundation raised over $51,000; the students received awards ranging from $5,700 to $20,000 based on need.

SMC student Gina Venditti, one of the recipients, is working towards an Associate Degree in Film Studies. She recalls that the Woolsey Fire—which destroyed her home in Malibu—turned her life “upside down.”

“The night before the fires, I was visiting my fiancé on location in NYC where he was shooting a feature film, and we were talking about our [wedding] plans,” said Venditti. “The Woolsey Fire happened so fast that we were unable to save our animals and . . . our belongings. It has been devastating and brings me to tears, still.”

Venditti said that while things have gotten less difficult day by day, the natural disaster created a lot of emotional trauma. In the aftermath of the fire, Venditti began commuting to Los Angeles, renting a room with a friend when she was able to find work. She also took an SMC class online to continue her education, and “stay focused and determined.”

She and her fiancé are slowly replacing their things, and are beginning to “feel a sense of hope for the future.” When SMC counselor Jenna Gausman called Venditti to tell her that she was one of the recipients of the SMC Foundation’s Woolsey Fire fundraising campaign, she “started crying on the phone.”

“I was completely in shock,” said Venditti. “I had no idea that the SMC Foundation was going to help. I am grateful. I am so grateful!”

The SMC Foundation received over 89 contributions through the Woolsey Fire fundraising campaign initially launched in November 2018. For more information on the campaign, email Sy_Dan@smc.edu or call 310-434-4180. The foundation provides student scholarships, faculty grants to support innovative projects and curriculum, and program support year-round. To learn more, visit the Santa Monica College Foundation website.