It is three weeks since the fires began. They have had a devastating effect on our Beth Ami community and our larger community of Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties.
Like most, I awaken every morning to the realization that I haven’t been dreaming and that the fires did really occur. Everywhere you go, people are talking about their experiences, or someone else’s, with the fires. It is on everyone’s mind. People are open, vulnerable , warm and full of compassion. There is a wonderful sense of community here at Beth Ami and in the community at large. People are looking for ways to help. I hope that, as time passes, we will continue to access this open-hearted empathy we now feel.
Santa Rosa will not be the same for many years: people will refer to before the fire and after the fire. Santa Rosa will rebuild and I hope there will emerge a more compassionate vision of how to make our community a better place for all those who live here. There needs to be safe housing for all economic strata in our community.
We had a huge housing shortage before the fires and a very serious homeless problem. Now things will be more dire. There no doubt will be families that will have difficulties finding housing. The homeless numbers will likely grow as working class people, who live paycheck to paycheck, may not have full employment because the economy may slow.
Many of us are looking for ways to give energy and funds to the fire victims. I suggest that we think first of the most needy when we give. Food banks and pantries will always need food. The homeless will still have huge needs. People will be looking for extra work. The gratondaylabor.org is an organization that is working to provide much needed support to workers and their families affected by the wildfires. Some lost everything and many other were temporarily displaced. There are so many people suffering emotionally and financially.
We are a very giving community. We believe in Tikun Olam. Let us continue to help those in need and keep an open heart.
Please note that we are collecting warm coats in the lobby.