How Life From the Ashes Came to Be
During the Camp Fire, there were continuous news reports of unimaginable devastation. Smoke blocked out the sun. Even 200 miles away, in the San Francisco Bay Area, smoke filled the air for weeks, bringing air quality to dangerous levels.
Amid the destruction, many thousands of people were moved by a strong desire to be of some assistance. Of course, the emergency aid agencies came in to provide emergency shelter and food–FEMA, The Red Cross, churches and other organizations helped to house the evacuees in temporary shelters. Donations poured in from all over the world, and Facebook pages were set up for people who wanted to help “adopt” a family. These pages connected people who wanted to help with people who needed help. That’s how I connected with Nicole.
I went to a Facebook group and offered to help. Nicole posted a wish list from a family who had been forced to flee Magalia with nothing but the clothes on their backs. She had been able to find them a place to stay but they needed everything–clothing, beds, dishes, toiletries and towels–and so much more. I worked with Nicole for months, sending items as I could. Nicole lives in a nearby town and did not have to evacuate. She is one of many volunteer helpers who saw the need and were on the ground, every day, helping as much as she could. She used her own money to get items for people who desperately needed them. Even her teenage son donated to the cause. She has seen how this disaster has brought out the very best and the very worst in people.
Although Nicole and I had never met, she and I “talked” to each other every day via Messenger, and she let me know how things are going. She still uses her own money as she can to help people and I send her what I can.
On the 6-month anniversary of the fire in May, there was a news story that said over 1,000 families still don’t have housing. On the Facebook groups, almost daily there are posts from people who need money for a tank of gas, or formula for a baby, or a car seat, or repairs to a motor home. Some things that are needed are things that seem small to many, but make a huge difference for them.
Following the news report, I told Nicole that I had this idea to start a non-profit organization called Life From the Ashes (LiFrA). The goal of the organization is to help the people who are still hurting, who might need just a little hand up. I told her that I could set up the organization and look for donations, if she could be the “boots on the ground” person, bringing help to people as we are able to. She wholeheartedly agreed, and that’s how LiFrA was born. We’re still in the setup phase. On May 15th I submitted the paperwork to create the nonprofit. The application for 501(c)3 designation is pending. Once that comes through, donations will be tax-deductible.
There are lots of organizations on the ground, and lots of small groups and individuals doing good things to help the victims of the fire. But there is still a need for more. As one local counselor put it, “The trauma from the Camp Fire is an ongoing daily challenge for everyone in the area. And the recovery is going to take time and patience.” Counselor, Pamela Beeman. https://www.mynspr.org/post/six-months-after-camp-fire-butte-county-schools-need-more-mental-health-counselors#stream/0