In the first few days after the Almeda fire, my husband Rob and I were doing what we could to help community members who lost their homes. After providing monetary and other assistance during the first week, we found the level at which we were donating was not sustainable. It is a long recovery period ahead and better solutions needed to be put in place.
As we talked with others who also were helping multiple families, donating to GoFundMe and aid organizations, they expressed that they too realized that they also could not personally continue to afford to donate at that level. We have many wonderful organizations reaching out to the community. There are many organizations, all providing an array of services and support. Researching, managing and accessing that information is a massive job in an overwhelming, traumatic situation.
I had the idea to create smaller manageable teams of 5 volunteer households, who would work together as a unit to uplift and support specific displaced families and commit to sustaining their support over the long road ahead. Each team would provide support for 1 to perhaps 3 or 4 displaced families.
I started to share the idea online and immediately received positive feedback. I knew the idea had merit. I then reached out to my friend Shields Bialasik, editor of the LocalsGuide. Even though he is living 4200 miles away in Costa Rica, he has played a instrumental role in facilitating community building here in Southern Oregon. I shared my idea with him , he saw the vision and we set to work on launching www.HeartRising.org.
So many have reached out to us over the past 2 weeks, offers of help have arrived from our Valley and as well as from nearby states. There are many areas of support that individual households can provide, some more than others. Someone may not be in a position to provide shelter, but perhaps they can locate resources for the family’s basic needs and assist in procuring those, provide transportation, assist in creating a long-range plan and additional needs like childcare, raise funds, gather donations etc. There are many ways to help and we have a guideline to assist with that.
As the volunteering households fill out a questionnaire indicating areas of support they can manage, we can merge those with other households and combine them to create a full array of support services and a team can be formed from those household members.
Displaced families in need would fill out an intake form and be matched with a 5 member household team. The first business that team will manage is to listen, assess and to develop a plan forward with their hosted family. We can provide an outline for this process. Developing a step by step path to the future, created with a caring, committed and constant group of supporters and receiving assistance throughout the journey, will go a long way to alleviating anxiety for our displaced families, provide a safe place for them to reach out as they navigate these traumatic life changes with core support for the time ahead.
Please join us, no act of love and care is too small.
Rise Up, Reach Out, Receive!