Joy. That is the word we keep hearing over and over again, from our teams and from our families here at Heart Rising. The joy of keeping families together and connecting with them. Spending time with them and joining with them whenever possible to aid in their recovery from the losses they experienced during last year’s fire.
Through a terrible pandemic and difficult challenges, our volunteers have found ways to safely meet with their families (even if it was just one team member at a time) and celebrate life.
When Heart Rising set out to help with the Almeda fire recovery seven months ago, our primary mission was to bring some relief to suffering individuals and families by helping them get restored to a new life. Our teams have done that and more.
Every week we receive reports about families who have turned a corner. Their team has helped them find a place to stay — or stay in a place that was damaged and is being repaired. Family members have been helped to enroll in school or college, apply for and receive driver’s licenses and jobs. They have helped family members acquire automobiles and household items. It has been a journey of love and commitment for each and every volunteer on a team, and we thank and commend them for their ongoing generosity and dedication.
And the families have shown just as much courage and determination as their teams. One such family is the Rocha family. The father, Martin, (who gave us permission to use his family’s name) has been working nonstop to support his wife and family. One of our team leaders, from Team Four, talked again about the joy she and her team have experienced in working with the Rocha family, who in turn have taught them to value even more — family, relationships, and hard work.
“I noticed an article in the LocalsGuide about Heart Rising and how the organization could use teams of volunteers. I thought to myself, that looks really interesting, so I called several people. One friend responded but I thought, I need more.” Being a resourceful community activist, she asked members of a women’s circle she had been meeting with for years. To her delight, all nine of them said yes. “We weren’t quite sure how to help so we started meeting with the family to see what they needed.”
Meanwhile, they bonded with their family in ways they never expected. With safe social distancing they joined them a couple of times for Halloween and Christmas celebrations. They were so amused when the Rocha family patriarch, Martin, dressed up like Santa Claus and passed out gifts the team had acquired. And for the older children, Dani and Jose, there was a birthday celebration. And for the baby, clothes and toys. The team was so moved when Martin presented them with handmade pillowcases his mother had made. “We are building a precious relationship, one week, one month at a time,” Team Four’s coordinator said.
You can help Heart Rising Foundation continue its mission in three ways: Send a donation for us to 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 would like 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.
Patie Millen, Founder Lucie K. Scheuer, Co-Director