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Fire Survivor Gives Thanks

Jason Kracht - Redwood Empire Council Board Member & Orca Lodge Associate Adviser
   October 8, 2018

One year ago this afternoon, I repaired the sprinklers & put up the Halloween decorations in the front yard.  One year ago this evening I attended the first webinar about the upcoming Lodge History project for 2018.  One year ago, I had taken some time to review some music to play with the Stanford Band Homecoming the next weekend.  One year ago today the North Bay Wildfires ripped through our communities and changed our lives forever. On the night of October 8-9, 2017, over 10 wildfires broke out in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties.  Over the rest of October 2017, we all worked to hear from friends and loved ones to make sure that they were safe, and we reached out to help those that had lost everything.  When all was done, we had 11 members of Orca Lodge, and over 110 members of Redwood Empire Council that were among the thousands in our communities who lost their homes.

Burnt BSA medals

Members of Redwood Empire Council have helped our community and our members in many different ways:

Sifter Box BuildSifter Box project – As was done after the Valley Fire in Lake County, members from across the Council built sifter boxes that were made available for fire victims.  This project was done at Friedman Brothers in Santa Rosa and Home Depot in Rohnert Park.  In addition several Scouts & Scouters were making these at their homes before the Council Wide project.

Explorer Scouts – The CHP Explorers worked to clean and fuel up CHP vehicles between shifts so they were ready for the next shift.

Pack 1 – Held a Halloween Costume drive for people in the community in need.

Thousand ThanksTroop/Crew 32 – Hosted the Thousand Thanks Pancake Breakfast to honor the First Responders and raise over $20,000 for victims of the fires.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park – Eagle project to rebuild the Planet Walk that burned in the fires.

In addition to reaching out to the community, help was also provided to Scouts and Scouters who were affected by the fires:

Uniform Fundraiser – The Council started a fundraiser to raise funds to replace uniforms for those that lost their uniforms in the fires.  Several Eagle Scout awards were also replaced for former Scouts in the community that needed to have theirs replaced.

Troop 707 – Troop 707 had all of their equipment destroyed.  Other Troops from the greater Bay area helped them get back on their feet: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2018/01/22/troop-707-california-fires/External Link

Orca Lodge – Worked to replace the OA sashes of our members who lost them.  Also provided an Orca Lodge “fishing shirt” for these members.

Section W-3N – Held a “GoFundMe” fundraiser that raised $2000.  This money will be used to pay for Scouting events & scout gear for the Orca Lodge members affected.

Western Region, OA – Held a fundraiser that collected over $1300 to help Orca Lodge replace some of our Trading Post materials that were lost in the fires.

National Committee, OA – Provided replacement National Awards to replace those that were lost in the fires (Vigil Certificates, Founders’ Awards, Centennial NOAC Sashes, Centurion Award).

Today I am thinking over the past 12 months.  I have talked to various neighbors today that I never knew before.  Each of us has something to share about our experience.  Tomorrow morning I will go visit our lot, take some 1 year post-disaster photos and join in a remembrance with my Coffey Park family.

Thank you to everyone who has helped our community over the last year.  Thanks for providing a place to stay during the fires.  Thanks for listening to our stories. Thank you for finding the smallest of mementos in the remains of our home. Thank you for taking ownership in planning & executing events when our attention was elsewhere.  Thank you for contributing time and/or money to one or more of the projects above (and countess other projects in our community).   

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