Heart Rising is a miracle. We often think of miracles as unexpected outcomes that bring relief, healing and chances to start over. Our miracle was created as the result of hard work, coordination and commitment by dozens of dedicated volunteers coming together in October 2020 to assist families who lost their homes in last year’s fire. Under our founder, Patie Millen, and her guidance, groups of community members formed teams, and those teams in turn, adopted families for the long term. Although we have made progress thanks to donations from compassionate community members and our own volunteers, there are still thousands of displaced families, and much work still to be done on behalf of those families.
One of the communities most seriously affected by the fire, has been the Hispanic community. Indeed, a number of families who have sought help from Heart Rising have been of Latin American origin, and we have been inspired by their courage, resilience and willingness to stay in the valley and resume their lives. One of the reasons we have been successful in this endeavor, is thanks to our partnership with the Longer-Term Secure Short-Term Housing Team or the LTSST Housing Team, founded by community advocate Tia Laída Fé and Candace Younghans. They have even helped secure funding for some of our families, and we are extremely grateful.
The following, is an excerpt from their brochure: “The part of our community hardest hit by the Almeda fire are working families. The majority are Latin American, (who) did not have insurance and their modest savings burned up with their homes. We are asking for generosity and creativity from our community, in the form of house lends or reduced-rate private spaces, to house families of two to eight people.” Tia is also suggesting guest homes or cottages, rental properties, houses or apartments that are not in use, time shares, hunting cabins and homes on the market where new-owner occupancy won’t be immediate. Tia adds, “The situations and connections we have witnessed thus far have been immensely beautiful and have brought renewed hope.” If you know of anyone who might have available housing, please access their website at: https://www.ltssthousing.org/or email them at: LTSSThousing@gmail.com.
Heart Rising continues to work with the Jackson County Long Term Recovery Group, coordinated through the efforts of many groups including the United Way. There is movement amongst this group to begin contacting many of the families residing in temporary housing throughout the valley.
Thanks to our donors, in May alone, we were able to begin assisting two retired couples who lost manufactured homes, assist a professional woman with a security deposit, and two, more families with five or more family members in the Talent-Phoenix community.
We know we have reached critical mass as a community. We hear stories about volunteer fatigue, stretched resources and families who have been traumatized and still need help filing for financial help. And yet we soldier on. And we ask you to continue to keep your hearts open and join us, either by making a donation, volunteering or both. We have been able to help families make big changes for as little as $500. And to secure items they need for even less.
We want to emphasize it will still be some time before state and local recovery groups will be able to find and help families. Your contribution has never been more needed. You can help Heart Rising continue its mission in three ways: Send a donation to us care of the Thalden Foundation, 550 Ashland Loop Road, Ashland, OR 97520. If you would like to volunteer go to our website: HeartRising.org and click on: “Offer Help.” If you need help, click on the “Request Help” button. We also offer information in Spanish and some bilingual volunteers. Information is kept confidential and is only used to help volunteer teams to assist their assigned individual, couple or family.