New England

Local Pro Raises Funds for California Hometown After Wildfires

Alex Wesley, Director of Marketing  |  November 21, 2017

RIVERSIDE, RI – Rhode Island Tennis Pro Nestor Bernabe grew up in Santa Rosa, California – the largest town in Sonoma County. It’s in the same area that was hit by devastating wildfires in October, which has now been deemed the third deadliest wildfire in California state history.


“It got really crazy when the fires were in one of the neighborhoods I grew up in. My mom and sister are still there. A lot of families I grew up with lost everything,” said Bernabe.


While he is currently the Director of Tennis at the Providence Tennis Academy, he stayed in California until after college and didn’t move away until he was 25. He still calls the area home. 


“I know pretty much every road in Sonoma County. My mom was evacuated and the school my sister teaches at was about a half a mile from the fire line. ADVERTISEMENT My old rival high school burned down. I had crazy sleepless nights for about a week before the fire was contained.”


Bernabe said it was difficult to be in Rhode Island while the fires were devastating his home state so he decided to do something about it. He organized a tennis fundraiser that took place on Saturday, November 18 at Centre Court Tennis Club. 


The event was an open round robin tournament followed by a Pro-Am match. The event pulled in players from all over New England including Justin Natale, a Brown Alum, all-Ivy League Player and former 585 ATP Pro and Harshana Godamanna who lives in Boston and has played in many Davis Cups for Sri Lanka. He is also a former top 811 ATP Pro. Both men played in the Pro-Am with Bernabe.


His goals were modest – to raise a couple thousand dollars and collect a few boxes of clothing to send back. To his delight, when all was said and done, the fundraiser collected nearly $4,000 and 90 pounds of clothes.


“For me, it’s just amazing that so many people here will help with something I care so much about. Just like everyone, where I grew up is with me forever. For me, this is just helping a little bit. Many of the families there are going to be affected long-term,” said Bernabe.


100% of the donations are going back to Sonoma County. Every dollar raised will go towards giving Sonoma County kids affected by the fires an opportunity to go to a tennis summer camp next year.


“I think we have a really good family oriented program at Providence Tennis. People still want to help and donate clothes. We really have a good community of families who care.”


Donations are still being accepted in the form of money or clothing. If you are interested in helping, you can send donations to Providence Tennis at Centre Court Tennis Club, 55 Hospital Road, Riverside, RI 02915.



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