They lost their homes and everything they owned, but they forgot about...


What a year it’s been!
Thanks to you, it’s been a year of recovery.

Last Thanksgiving, Buddy's home was just that burned-out shell above.

This is his new residence--built by volunteers and funded in part by donors like you.

Even when a second summer of devastating fires burned a million acres, taking forests, grazing land, habitat, homes, and three of our best and bravest firefighters, we didn’t lose heart.

Because even while the fires were burning, recovery was under way too. The pace of volunteers slowed only for a couple of weeks—due to mandatory evacuation orders and poor air quality. Then it picked right up again.

In October, some 60 volunteers from the Dawn Patrol of Bethel Church in Chehalis, and from Faith Assembly in Lacey, came over the Cascades hauling ‘dozers, dump trucks, and other heavy equipment. They spent a week clearing rubble, debris, dead trees, and twisted metal—enabling our disaster case managers to close the files on 60 remaining clients from the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire. Other volunteers assisting Carlton Complex fire survivors included United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), World Renew, Seventh Day Adventist Disaster Relief, Disaster Chaplains from Cashmere, and one special couple—Terry and Debbie Parsons—who have relocated here for a year to provide construction and bookkeeping services—free of charge!

Meanwhile, volunteers representing Team Rubicon, Christian Aid Ministry, Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief, and Christian Disaster Relief, came from as far away as Texas to begin damage assessment and clean-up on this summer’s Okanogan Complex fires. One couple—Kurt and Georgeann Melby—hauled a skidster all the way from Oklahoma to help with fire clean-up. Christian Disaster Relief alone cleaned debris from 95 burn sites!

Local volunteers were also busy. Cattlemen’s associations and animal rescue groups—notably WASART,Washington State Animal Response Team—started sending semi truckloads of hay, along with tubs of protein supplement, wildlife blocks, and even dog and cat food. (Smiling volunteers and ranchers accepted delivery from WASART below. That's WASART's co-founder Gretchen McCallam in the yellow jacket and Omak/Okanogan LTRO agriculture committee chair Shauna Beeman in hot pink.)

 Photo by Mfotophile/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Mfotophile/iStock / Getty Images

New recovery organizations got up to speed quickly
Building on last year’s experience, local communities came together to form their own grassroots recovery organizations—in Oroville/Tonasket, Omak/Okanogan, Chelan, and the Colville Reservation. These groups are all represented now—along with last year’s Methow Valley, Pateros/Brewster, and Malott/Chiliwist recovery organizations—on the board of the former Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group—now known as the Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group.

And that’s not all. Volunteers from North Creek Presbyterian Church, Mennonite Disaster Services, and Christian Public Service—a program of Church of God in Christ Mennonite—have been here all summer long, building homes and finishing interiors. They’ve been aided by various short-term groups of volunteers. As a result, we’re on track to finish all 14 homes in our Phase One reconstruction effort. Nine are completed already; four are framed and roofed and getting their interiors; and the final home will be completed this spring. 

So what are we thankful for this Thanksgiving?

In a word: YOU.

You—our friends, supporters, volunteers, and donors—have been there for us when times were bleak. Individually and collectively, you’ve made a way out of “no way.”

Our work isn’t finished, by any means. Twelve of the 15 homes in Phase Two still need to be funded. And we’ve got 38 families in precarious housing situations right now—survivors of this summer’s Okanogan Complex fires.

That’s why we know you’ll continue to keep us in your thoughts and in your generosity. You can share the joy of recovery by making a secure online donation through the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, which generously agreed to forgo all administrative fees—meaning 100% of your gift goes straight to recovery efforts.

Thank you for all you've made possible this year. Thank you for proving that, together, we’re stronger than fire.