(Clockwise from top left) Germaine Savoie, Bill VanTassell, Karen Fisher, and The Gray Family all share their stories of hope as each have been affected and/or recovering from the Washington Wildfires thanks to the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes campaign.
By Karen Fisher
I just ordered new lighting for my living room. It is just one more thing on our list of items needing replacement in our 50-year-old home. And I look forward to receiving this light even though there is already light in the living room. But I need to light this room differently. You see, I need to focus light on family portraits and art. I need to flood light toward seating areas. So the light I have just won’t do.
As I reflect on this change I’m making, I remember those who are waiting for a place to install a light. And I am a bit embarrassed. We are deep in the third winter following the Carlton Complex fire, the first of two devastating wildfires in North Central Washington. I am involved in the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes campaign with a goal of raising enough money to rebuild six homes for victims of the wildfires. I know the stories. I know the need. And yet, the importance of this project gets pushed to the back burner while I search for my own light, forgetting that there are those still without their own lights in their own homes.
Here is one story:
Germaine Savoie and her husband, Mike, moved from the rat race of Western Washington to the beautiful and isolated canyons of Okanogan County. After years of hard work, their retirement home was established, gardens were planted, and a growing menagerie of pets kept them company.
But in the summer of 2015, Germaine lost nearly everything dear to her. Mike died suddenly in July, leaving Germaine alone on their 20-acre property. Just three weeks later, the Tunk Block wildfire tore through the canyon, destroying their home shortly after she fled the roaring flames.
Like many whose homes were destroyed by the wildfires, Germaine had no insurance. Her remote location, away from centralized fire suppression services, made it difficult to get insurance coverage. But she knew she wanted to resettle in the same place she and Mike bought together. “My life is here. This is my home,” Germaine said.
Thanks to the Okanogan Long-Term Recovery Group and help from many others, she is now living on her property in a fifth-wheel trailer. She and her small menagerie of pets are making due while volunteers build her new two-bedroom home next door. The home, built with a metal roof and cement-board siding, will be insured and better able to withstand wildfires. Cold and snow are delaying the final touches, but Germaine believes volunteers will likely finish this spring. She can hardly wait.
Rebuild: Up from the Ashes is a huge undertaking. To date we’ve raised enough to complete one home. How do we raise enough money to rebuild six homes? We take it step-by-step, door-by-door, light-by-light. I just bought lighting for my home. I can donate to Rebuild to help light those six homes. Did I mention that I will be buying a couple of doors soon? The houses need doors, too.
Let’s step up to this challenge. Make presentations to your congregations. We have more stories. We have information and resources to help you. We have folks willing to help with the presentations.
Step-by-step, door-by-door, light-by-light. We can make this happen.
For more information, assistance and resources contact:
- Jim Truitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rosalee Mohney – email@example.com
- Nancy Davis – firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Reinholz – email@example.com
- Karen Fisher – firstname.lastname@example.org
More Stories of Hope
By Rick and Katie Larson
Germaine’s eyes light up as she shows visitors through her two-bedroom home that is nearly finished. The home, built with a metal roof and cement-board siding, will be insured and better able to withstand wildfires. Cold and snow are delaying the final touches, but Germaine believes volunteers will likely finish this spring. She can hardly wait. MORE
Thanks to such donations of money, labor and materials by a variety of charity and faith-based groups that are coordinated by OLTRG, Bill hopes to be in his new home this year. As he stands next to the foundation wearing a hat that says “Pateros Strong — Rising from the Ashes,” he can see his recovery becoming reality. MORE
The Gray Family
Brian and Michelle Gray and their six children lost their home near Alta Lake in the 2014 Carlton Complex fire. As they searched for a new home, they were forced to split up their children to live in other homes. MORE
Karen Fisher serves as the Seven Rivers District Lay Leader & Wenatchee First UMC Lay Leader.