Since the beginning of the Walmart parking lot, it seems like it’s been forever. Maybe it’s because there’s been a continual push to come up with solutions for people. As if the harshness of the fire wasn’t hard enough, winter is continuing to inflict pain.

There are areas flooding, trailers stuck and with the blanket of snow things just come to a crawl. We don’t have to experience it directly because we live in our homes and we are blessed because we were not within reach of the fire. It seems like it’s been forever but it really hasn’t.

We’re coming on just five months. With winter things quiet down a little bit. We all tend to huddle and move about a lot less. But for the victims of the fire, so much has not changed.

The shelter closed down. People were pushed into trailers that were anchored into muddy fields. People who I am still working with are now in a homeless shelter. I’m very frustrated because I just don’t know if I have a solution for some of them.

My mind operates like a boiling pot of water right now, constantly churning over.

As harsh as winter is and as difficult as it has been, we’re still finding solutions, big and small. We are using the donations as frugally as we can and applying them as accurately as possible.

Born out of a hellish night, thirty people hunkered down for 3 days, hoping to emerge. One of those people who survived that night at the church was Rusty and his children. Rusty and his family continued to stay at the church and unselfishly helped out with the fire victims as they arrived. He did whatever was necessary. Unloading trucks of water, sweeping, and cleaning. He stood vigilance over the tent. Your donations supplied needed items along the way until a solution could be found. Five months after it all began Rusty headed east with his family.

He had received a truck that was donated to us and with this they were headed to Kansas. This truck allowed him to pack up and finally move on. They headed south to Barstow at which point they would turn left and head to Kansas.

As I’ve learned throughout this journey helping fire victims of the fire trying to get back on their feet, just fights until the very end. Just when I thought I had people taken care of, things consistently popped up. For Rusty, this was no exception.

As luck would have it, Rusty broke down in Barstow and had to stay in a hotel for 2 weeks waiting for the truck to be repaired. You and I didn’t give up. We never abandoned Rusty. We got his engine repaired. We paid for his hotel. We fueled him up and out of town he went. I’m sorry but I could not leave him stranded in Barstow.

I want to share a message that Rusty sent for all of you.

Rusty checked in with me from time to time on his journey. I was nervous about the engine. I wasn’t worried about Rusty. He is a wonderful father and a hardened veteran of our military. He texted me a picture when he arrived with a message for all of you.

His message read, “We just got to our midway house, this is it, this is us, we will branch out from here to find our land and home, God willing. Thank you so much for helping us get here. Have a blessed day. Rusty, Brian and Rusty II.”

It’s real simple. I would have not been able to get there without all of you and your donations.

Luke and Colton moved from the shelter to the homeless shelter. Without a better option for now, it was really my only choice. We are making progress on his tiny house. He is staying positive and is excited for its completion.

Your donations are funding four tiny houses currently. I’m managing the budgets the best I can with the donations I have. So far, so good. This will be Luke’s and Colton’s new home.

I took this picture back in the beginning when we were helping Luke and Colton at the shelter. While they’re living at the homeless shelter now, they’re upbeat and positive. They are completely excited about their new home and are a complete joy to be around. I’ve learned a lot from them. I think we can all learn a lot from Luke and Colton.

For those who don’t have a real good solution, this is the best one we can come up with and frankly I’m excited about it.

You would think we are building a tiny house for this family of four, but I am standing next to Alicia, a mother of three. She alone has taken on the task of building these homes. She spends her off hours procuring materials, organizing volunteers and managing them. She, like myself, just dove in and went to work. All of you who have donated to me, should be proud of your accomplishments. You are supporting Alicia and our dream of building tiny homes for those who don’t have a better solution. We are funding them step by step as we get certain phases done. As donations come in, we are able to fund additional phases of these homes. You are making this happen. You should be proud.

From the first pick-up load of donations we took into the area last October, I had no idea it would grow into what it has today. While we are not running truckloads of supplies necessarily like we were back then, we are still hustling to find solutions.

In the last few days we have purchased cars, propane, food, and insurance. We have paid rent and are continuing to repair cars that made it through the fire. We are paying for medical procedures to be done and fulfilling needs from the most simple to the most complicated. We have come up with solutions for people when no one else could.

I have never looked at anybody’s problem as complicated. I just looked at everybody as an onion. Some just had more layers than others, but regardless we had to meet them right where they were at.

There have been a lot of lows and highs throughout the last five months. Because of your donations, I am still meeting people right where they’re at and finding out how to come up with solutions when there appeared never to be one.

If you feel so inclined to donate, you can. Either through the nursery or by phone. Please feel free to reach out.

I hope I am doing good by you and I thank you for your trust and your support.


How can you help out those impacted by the Camp Fire?

You have helped out so much! Here is what’s needed – Visa Gift Cards and cash. Gift cards and cash can be delivered directly to the nursery or sent to us by mail. Our address is:

Attn: Nichole
High-Hand Nursery
P.O. Box 2280
Loomis, CA 95650

You can also call us and give us a credit card over the phone. Our number is 916-652-2065. We will turn all checks and credit card transactions into cash.

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