One of the most positive things that has come out of the last year for me, has been to watch the resilience with which so many families, couples, and individuals have come back from the Almeda fire. Loss is a terrible thing and yet, all the people we have been fortunate enough to assist—are testaments to the human spirit. I have never once heard anyone complain about their circumstances. I have looked in survivors’ eyes, and I’ve seen a determination to keep going. An unwillingness to give up.
Some of our families are still living in FEMA trailers and are trying to purchase them, and others are living in small rentals or semi-permanent housing. Some have found more permanent housing, a few have been able to purchase mobile homes in or near parks where they used to live. Others have found affordable apartments with our help.
Although part of our original goal was to try and help our families be rehoused, our teams have done so much more: finding childcare or offering it themselves, finding used vehicles and purchasing them for families, buying school and work supplies, purchasing wholesome foods, helping retired couples with household goods, and the list goes on and on. I have been awe-inspired by the unquestioning willingness of our volunteers, who just jumped in. Each person on each team found their niche, and each went to work doing what they could do best. Our teams hit the ground running at the very beginning—so all could eventually come “home.” We have a long way to go, as there are still a number of families who can use support or could use a team.
We are pleased with all the help Heart Rising has received too. We are moving into a season of gratitude, and we are grateful to our Founder, Patie Millen, for our sponsor, the Thalden Foundation, our funders, including the Oregon Community Foundation and individual donors from the community, and especially from our teams. We are also grateful to the Jackson County Community Long Term Recovery Group, which is made up of representatives from just about every social service organization in the valley, including: Catholic Charities, ODHS, ACCESS, the United Way, the Talent-Phoenix Schools, St. Vincent de Paul, and many, many others. It takes a village to raise a child and several villages to bring back a community.
At this time of year when people will be celebrating with their families, we wish, Shield Bialasik, Editor of the Locals Guide, our volunteer teams, our families, and community partners, and all who have been working for the greater good of the Almeda fire survivors, a safe and happy holiday season. If you need help or wish to donate, please visit our website: HeartRising.org.
Lucie K. Scheuer, Director