Our care for those who have lost so much in the fires:
An update on our efforts at Church of the Incarnation
By the Rev. Jim Richardson, priest-in-charge
We have experienced an amazing outpouring of generosity since the October fires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed more than 9,000 structures in our region. In our parish, we know of 11 families who have lost homes (and we are protecting their privacy).
To date we have collected more than $80,000 for our fire relief efforts. We are exceedingly grateful for your contributions. Most of these donations have come from outside parish, including from a family foundation that has given us an unsolicited grant of $10,000. We also collected more than $2,700 at a recent fire relief concert we hosted in the church.
We are using these funds to help those who are the most vulnerable, and are “falling between the cracks” with government agencies or other charitable organizations. Here are a few ways we are spending these funds:
- One month rent for a family who lost not only their apartment but whose dad lost his job when the hotel where he worked burned.
- Rent for a woman, who speaks only Spanish, who cleans houses for a living. She lost her income when the houses she cleans burned. She has since begun rebuilding her clientele.
- We assisted with car repairs for a young man whose car top melted while he was helping others evacuate.
- A hotel room for a mom and her daughter who were living in their car after being burned out of their apartment. We subsequently paid the first month’s rent for them for a new apartment.
- One month’s rent for a single mother whose condominium burned; she had only minimal contents insurance.
- Gift cards for a gardener who lost not only his home but all of his tools.
We’ve been assisting people in other ways as well. We have a camper truck parked in the parking lot. The couple living inside it lost their apartment and its contents and they had no insurance. The camper is not street-legal, so we are allowing them park until it is fixed and they find a new place to live.
We are also exploring the possibility of using one of our Sunday School rooms during the week for a licensed child care provider who lost their home-based business during the fire.
The Church of the Incarnation assisted with the Sonoma Ash Project. Artists from around the region are collecting ashes from people whose homes and business burned. The artists will be using the ashes to make ceramics, then return the ceramics to the respective homeowners. We’ve helped more than 100 people connect with the ash project.
Great thanks go to Stacy Duval, who is connected to us through her work on our website, and David Jasper, our treasurer. The two have become our unofficial case managers, working with each of these families as they rebuild their lives. None of this could be done without them – or without your generosity. You can still donate by writing a check to the Church of the Incarnation with “fire relief” in the notation line or by going on-line to our donation page at www.incarnationsantarosa.org