Saturday, January 23, was a wonderful day, full of laughter, song, and more than a few tears as we dedicated four new homes for fire survivors--built by volunteers and funded by generous donors like you!
The day's celebrations were attended by representatives of several of the organizations who helped to build the homes, including Christian Public Service, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), North Creek Presbyterian Church, Rebuilding Together Ministries, and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)--who were joined by Okanogan County Long Term Recovery staff, disaster case managers, members of the media, and families, friends and well-wishers.
Shane Horton lost his home on Chiliwist Road in the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire. A stone sculptor, he also lost all of his tools and personal possessions. In honor of the housewarming celebration, he played a song of gratitude on his Native American flute.
"All of the people who helped in this project have been so sweet," Horton said. "It was an honor to do something small for them in return."
The Perez family lost their home near Black Canyon in the Carlton Complex fire and received a new one--built by volunteers with materials funded by donors--on property they owned in Pateros.
After stories shared by volunteers and the disaster case managers, a blessing performed by United Methodist Committee on Relief, and heartfelt words of thanks spoken by Juana and Hugo Perez, Juana served the 20-something assembled guests homemade tamales.
Retired shipyard-worker Wayne Binkley lost his home and a lifetime of hobby collectibles in the Carlton Complex fire. Steve Varrelman, of BTO Construction, poured the foundation, volunteers from North Creek Presbyterian Church framed and dried-in his new home in the lower Methow off of French Creek, and MDS and Christian Public Service volunteers completed the interior.
His housewarming was attended by many friends and neighbors, including disaster case manager Renae Haug, who also escaped the fire. In the photo, Wayne is giving a grateful hug to one of the MDS volunteers.
Christian Public Service volunteers, who--along with North Creek Presbyterian volunteers--donated the labor to rebuild Buddy Thomas's house in the Methow Valley, admire the bright color scheme and other personal touches Buddy added to his home.
Buddy played his singing bowl--which was burned by the fire but pulled from the wreckage--for assembled guests.
Each housewarming ceremony began and ended with a song by Christian Public Service volunteers, and included a blessing of the lintel by volunteers from United Methodist Committee on Relief. Despite the snow and rough travel conditions, it was an amazing day of inspiration, demonstrating the good people are doing in this world. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible!
We're planning to do it again real soon--with five more rebuilt homes--the completion of Phase One. Plans are also under way to begin 15 homes this spring in Phase Two of recovery!
As always, our progress is only made possible through the generous support of people like you! Click on the link to the Community Foundation of North Central Washington to make a secure online donation--which is fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law!
Thank you so much for your support!