Thank you to Shields Bialasik and the LocalsGuide for offering this space to give the community an update on Heart Rising.
Our number of teams are continuing to grow as are the number of fire survivor families who our teams are supporting throughout the recovery from the Almeda Fire.
At Heart Rising we form teams of 5 or more households who connect, form relationships within their teams, and who offer support long-term to families who were displaced by the fire. The teams work with the families to discover needs on many different levels and offer material and emotional support and psychological help from a team of licensed therapists headed by Scott Bandoroff. The connections created among the team members and their families are deepening community connections in all directions and important friendships are formed. We know that the recovery will be long. We feel the whole of our community will not have completed its work until every family affected by the fire has stabilized and are returned to wholeness. As our teams support one to several families, bonds are formed and understandings develop so that the support can be deep, reliable, and as stated, long-term.
With each phase of recovery from the fire, new needs emerge. What was recognized and needed two months ago has transformed into a new set of needs and some are recurrent. Some of today’s needs are as dire as the initial needs following the fire.
Immediately after the fire, quick housing solutions for fire survivors were needed and many were housed in motel rooms by aid organizations. Every time I talked with a family, they were in the dark and did not know if their funding would continue after the end of the month, sometimes just 10 days or less away, or if their funding would end. If housing was ending, they had no idea where they would go. Many were out of work as their businesses had closed due to Covid or because it was destroyed in the fire. With the unknown, anxiety elevated on top of their massive daily stress.
We are seeing a new wave of families reaching out. Some have secured housing and now need items and goods that make a home safe and livable. Heart Rising does not receive goods or store them but as we hear of available items, we let our teams know in case their families are in search of those specific items.
The shortage of housing is a huge problem, enormous. We are not seeing plentiful solid solutions and I do not know what the answers are. I just heard that the Inn at the Commons in Medford was sold and the hotel’s rooms will be converted to housing. This is good news, but we need so much more.
If you would like to help and work with a family as part of a team, please go to our website www.HeartRising.org and click the Offer Help Button, you will be taken to a page and from there click on Join A Team and please fill out the form and we will assign you to a team. Many are now joining as intact teams. They have coordinated on their own with co-workers, church members, social clubs, book clubs, neighbor groups, business networks and contact us saying “I have a team and we are ready to go.” How amazing is that? Every time I hear that it gives me chills and I am filled with gratitude. Some teams grow as their friends and family members join their existing team and as they grow in number, they split into two teams.
The good works of the teams and the commitment of the families as they work hard to stabilize has formed deep bonds among them. People that were once invisible to one another in our community, now connect with each other regularly in acts of friendship, kindness, support and fun.
If you would like to help but are unsure how, please reach out to us. Every action no matter how small is helpful. Some team members take a leadership role and others can help a little and all are needed and important. We will connect you with other volunteers to form a team. Once your team is formed you will meet by phone or Zoom to organize and then reach out to the family that is excited to meet you. Please be assured that with the restraints of meeting in person due to Covid, and the precautions required, all recommended measures are implemented and practiced.
We are currently taking donations for the families and to help the teams with their work, through the Thalden Foundation. Barry and Kathryn Thalden have spearheaded many successful projects and efforts in our community. Donations can be marked for Heart Rising and sent to The Thalden Foundation at 550 Ashland Loop Road Ashland, OR 97520. Some teams have donations earmarked for their family specifically. We are in the process of establishing Heart Rising as a non-profit, until that is complete please send your donations to the Thalden Foundation where it will be tax deductible. If you need your donation picked up, we are happy to do that. The Thalden Foundation has also generously matched the first $10,000 of received donations. Thank you to all who have contributed.
If you know a family in need, please contact us. As a family requesting support from a strong and kind team, you can visit our website at www.HeartRising.Org and click on a button at the bottom of the home page “Request Help” and fill out the questionnaire. This information is confidential and only used to determine how to best place your family with a team. A family need not be concerned that their information will be shared with any government organization, it will not.
I am new to this and I have never formed a social assistance organization. I am a Realtor in our Valley and I am figuring this out step-by-step, day-by-day. I am humbled by the largesse of our community. As our number of volunteers and families have grown, it has become too much for me to care for on my own, especially in addition to my real estate brokerage. I had the good fortune to connect with Lucie Scheuer, a longtime client of mine that I met in the 1990’s. Lucie and I were talking on the phone when I mentioned to her that Heart Rising was doing well but that I sincerely needed experienced administrative help. I knew Lucie had a background in counseling and management and came to find she had much experience in non-profits and served on several boards. She is also connected to some of the heads of local organizations that have done great works for the fire survivors. I asked Lucie if she would be interested in the position as I was in desperate need of help and she agreed! I am so grateful. Lucie has bright, positive energy and she is highly capable and an exceptionally good soul! Lucie has been reaching out to the families and teams, organizing new teams, matching the families and assisting with other admin duties and decisions. This is allowing Heart Rising to expand and grow. Thank you, Lucie!
If you have questions or suggestions, comments, want to find out more or offer a kind word, you can call either me or Lucie Scheuer. My cell is 541-301-3435 or the number for my real estate brokerage at The Patie Millen Group at 541-488-0010. You can reach Lucie Scheuer at 541-944-2430.
Thank you to Everyone!