Heart Rising has now been working on behalf of fire survivors for 16 months, and in that time, we have watched various teams of volunteers show up for families in a number of different ways. One team meets regularly with their family and celebrates everything with them, from the children’s birthdays, to anniversaries, to holidays.
Another team has engaged in potlucks, barbecues, picnics, and have even sent children to camp during the summer. Another group is searching diligently for a permanent home for a young couple, and after many hits and misses, they are closer and even more determined to stay with them, until they are in their own home.
Heart Rising has also helped a number of individuals this year. One young woman has been able to jump start her career with our support, another has found an apartment, while another has found fulfillment in social work. Another retired schoolteacher found an apartment in Ashland and received a number of household items she was able to use in her new place. A woman artist and her 85-year-old mother recently received a check from us to fix the roof on their new housing. And we are expanding our mission to make sure social workers and caseworkers in the community are getting support too.
It hasn’t been an easy road. Some of our families had to move a few times, and as a result were hard to find. Some disappeared. Others were too traumatized to engage fully. Some are staying out as far as Emigrant Lake, and outside of a simple RV, have no transportation. We are currently trying to help more families who have found themselves having to constantly move or have lack of transportation.
Part of our mission is to also raise awareness about the dire need of many citizens in our community. We need to remember that before the fire, a number of low- income families in the area were barely hanging on financially, and the fire was the ultimate blow to hundreds of people who were struggling to make it.
It has been 16 months, but there is still lots of work to be done! All donations go directly to help families. If you would like to help, please send a donation to Heart Rising c/o Thalden Foundation, 550 Ashland Loop Road, Ashland 97520. Or visit our website: heartrising.org.