Where Are We At These Days?

If you close your eyes for a moment and think back over the course of the last six months, what would you be thinking about? Would you be able to separate in your mind all the events that had occurred? Or would it just be a big blur? When I look back over the past six months, it’s a big blur mixed in with worry and at times adrenaline spikes. I have received a lot of emails from people asking about different people we’ve helped from the Camp Fire. So this lets me know that there are other people worrying too.

Did you donate and then wonder where we were at? Have you been following the stories, kind of confused that some of the news coming out of the Camp Fire doesn’t seem to be news of huge successes, but stop and start and stop again success?

Since the beginning of this journey we have helped an incredible amount of people. Too many to list. We have experienced sadness and set back together as well as the blessings of watching somebody rebirth their life.

I can’t speak to all the stories you’ve heard as to what is going on with the Camp Fire. I don’t pay attention, nor do I really read them. I can only attest to the work we have done together and our own focus on providing solutions.

I so want to someday write an email that has no mention of tragedy or hint of sadness. But we started this journey together in helping those from the Camp Fire and while there has been so much success we still can’t escape the constant drumbeat of sadness. I’ve spent the last six months plowing through these things and constantly looking forward. I did this with your help, trying not to look back and when I was forced to look back or circled around to a place I thought I never had to go back to, we together went back in with great resolve, bigger solutions and a commitment to finish what we started. So, if I may I’d like to take a moment to update you on where we are in our journey of hope and helping those in need.

Here’s where we’re at.

– Sadly, funds are being raised to help a lady married 61 years to cremate her husband. This fire continues to claim people. I don’t know what else to say about this other than I come across this a lot. The evacuation, the stress it created, and the conditions that exacerbated those with health concerns are continuing to take a toll. Together, we have paid for cremations and taken a bit of a burden off in time of need.

– A lot of people took in survivors onto their property and into their homes. I thought, “What’s going to happen when these people have to leave and have nowhere to go?”. You can only sleep on somebody’s couch for so long. You can only pay for extra food and utilities for so long. We are paying for some of these utility bills to help relieve the stress while trying to come up with better solutions for people. I always felt new needs would come up and they are. I knew it would be like a merry-go-round spinning, occasionally letting the horse go loose and we would have to find a solution for the horse.

– Recently we have paid a past due utility bill and are preparing a vehicle so that a young mother can take her trailer and drive out of state. Her two-year old child was sent to family after the fire. Your donations are now going to reunite them in the coming days.

– This is not the fresh catch of the day, but the start of a new life. This gentleman lost all his logging equipment in the fire as he evacuated. Your donations helped get his dignity back. They helped him to get a job. His new boots and climbing gear have started him on his journey of taking care of his family again and moving forward. Thank you for that.

– March 27th, we are happy to say that we are taking down the tent at the church. We will still be feeding about 300 meals a day, but are consolidating into a smaller area as the weather improves. Tony and the team at Celebrations in Roseville, thank you. Your tent, tables and chairs and heater have provided warmth through a long, snowy winter. I don’t know how we would have fed so many people without it. We have served over 50,000 meals to date. Thanks, Tony. Thank you, Produce Express and Reed’s Meats and your continued support in helping those in need.

– I had said in the past that I thought that the removal of the tent would indicate a turning point and it is a shift into our next step. We are going to shift our services into a resource center. This center will provide folks with the ability, once vetted, to get individual needs met. One size doesn’t fit all. We can provide basic necessities that will help people to get to the next step. There could be a pot of gold a mile away, but if you don’t have the means to get to it, all you can do is sit and stare at it.

It is fashioned after the very thing we have been doing all along. Identifying a need and fulfilling short term needs to get people to the next step in their lives.

– Water. Teigert has done an incredible job stepping in and helping to take the burden off of us. Paula from Teigert and Nichole, my assistant, work seamlessly together to put the logistics together. It works like this. Paula from Teigert confirms that Sam’s has the water in stock. Paula emails Nichole, my assistant in the office here at High-Hand. Nichole arranges for payment and notifies Paula that we are good to go. Paula then notifies their mobile equipment department, who then sends a truck and delivers the water to Magalia.

Every other week Teigert and one of their partners, Pacific Coast Building Products, pick up water and deliver it to Magalia. Quite a bit of logistics. Behind the scenes, Judd, Paula and Nichole have been doing a wonderful job.

Which brings up something I haven’t mentioned. Nichole runs my office. She runs all the accounting, payables and receivables and payroll for a company of 60 employees and 4 businesses within it. She has, without question, taken on the business of working behind the scenes to make all this happen, supplying logistical support, tracking down paperwork and fielding phone calls.

As I sit and ask myself about the events of the last six months, through my personal blur one thing shines brightly. It’s all the great people here at High-Hand who have taken calls and jumped in with their sleeves rolled up to keep this all moving smoothly. They weren’t told this was coming and when it came they jumped in without question. To Nichole, the team at the nursery and cafe, thank you so much. To Celebrations, Produce Express, Reed’s Meats, Teigert and to so many of you who have donated, thank you. I don’t know what else to say other than “thank you”.

– A young mother and her children moved into their new trailer. They had been sleeping in a car. They are no longer, thanks to your donations. Please understand that these situations after all these months still exist.

While we’ve had our eyes down moving forward helping as many people as we can, every time we look left or right, we find new needs. A military veteran keeping warm by candles in his trailer has a generator and a supply of fuel. Just trying to get to Spring.

It looks like Winter hasn’t given up yet.

But Winter is up against Time, and Time will win, if it hasn’t already.

Today, Wednesday, March 20th, at 2:58 p.m., Spring started. Winter’s days are numbered, as well as the suffering of people trying to stay warm.

– Yesterday, we purchased 100 propane tanks. They cost $50.00 each. A propane company up in the area has agreed to fill them and refill them for free. These tanks are being loaded up in a pick-up truck and delivered to people who have no means of refilling their tanks. Concow, a town on the back side of the fire, is such a place. Tanks are loaded into a pick-up truck and the routes are made. I just want to thank the propane company and a very hard working lady for making all this happen.

– Luke and Colton’s tiny house is almost done. We are building another for an elderly lady and her two dogs and a third for a young family. You and I have committed to three more homes with more on the horizon. Alicia is working hard to coordinate all this. To finish the two other houses, we will spend an additional $5,500.00.

– A gentleman who owns a custom door shop has agreed to build all the front doors to the tiny houses. Sir, I don’t know you, but thank you very much.


Throughout the winter, we have been growing and growing and growing. Our greenhouse is full with the latest flowers surely to make anybody smile.

We’re doing a bit of Spring cleaning here and I’m going to be giving away a few things for free. We have a few scratch and dent fruit trees. Here’s the list:

Unmarked Persimmons
Espalier pear, unknown varieties
Peaches, unmarked
Plums, unmarked
Pears, unmarked
Camperdown Elm

I’m not trying to guilt you, but if you do happen to make a “volunteer donation” while picking up your “free” tree while supplies last, that money will be used toward our Camp Fire efforts. This will be this Saturday and Sunday, March 23rd and 24th, while supplies last. See Adrian. He’s the answer man with a big smile, always.

This weekend, Dory has five seats left for the first class of Spring.

Saturday, March 23, beginning 10:00 a.m., join us for a Springtime Fresh Floral Centerpiece. Reserve your spot by clicking here. Tickets are $65, plus tax.



Mother’s Day weekend, May 11th, Bloomtastic arrives, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased online by clicking here, at the nursery, or at the gates of Maple Rock Gardens. It’s a great time for all. Come and enjoy the freshness of Spring at Maple Rock Gardens.



Succulents. That’s what’s next. Join my friend, Robin, Sunset Magazine’s succulent guru and learn all about succulents in one of the two lectures. Click here to learn more and reserve your seat. Obviously, we will have a lot of succulents for sale. Belly up to our succulent bar, bring your creativity and pot up your own succulent creation.

This event is free. Don’t miss out.

Well, that’s where we’re at. I can’t thank you enough for your continued support of our efforts in the Camp Fire. I look forward to seeing you at High-Hand Nursery.


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.

A Sense of Urgency

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.

The Work You Are Doing

After the agencies go home, after the news cameras go away, after the holidays, it’s so easy to step into normal life again. But for the victims of the Camp Fire, it’s not about stepping into a normal life. It’s about coming to peace with what a new normal looks like.

For us, you and I, the work continues.

I had a chance today to sit down and reflect about the last three months. For me, the last three months have been a blur. For the Camp Fire victims, it’s been a nightmare. For all of you who have donated, your donations have been transformed into blessings beyond what you can imagine.

The shelter closes down this week. The trailers that are left at Silver Dollar can stay there as long as they pay $1200 a month and then in April they will have to move on. While so many have moved on, so many people are still on the treadmill, trying to find solutions. It’s still just as difficult as it’s always been, but giving up doesn’t seem to be an option.

Your donations are still helping Red Cross Kim and the trailers and various people. Chico Tammy has a lot of layers to the onion, but we got her car registered and we found a way to get her two horses, three dogs, birds, two kids and a sick mother to her new job in Emerett, Idaho. Cowboy 911 is going to help with the animals and your donations are helping to get Tammy over the finish line.

Our work in Magalia still continues. While conditions are harsh, through your donations, spirits have been lifted.

Inside our oasis, we are continuing to feed and nourish. This will continue until Pastor Doug says we can take the tent down. Your donations will continue to maintain this effort until this very end.

For those living in their trailers on their property in Paradise and Magalia, they now have to move off their property. FEMA has told County Supervisors that if everybody doesn’t move off their properties and find new places they will not receive the funds needed to start the clean-up. Understand that originally, officials said that they could move onto their properties while clean up was being done and rebuilding their houses. Now they have to move off. Still, they can’t get off the treadmill and find a new norm. It’s frustrating.

I think we’ve turned a bit of a corner, however. It’s a simple observation. In the beginning when we were feeding people inside the tent, it was quiet. Not a lot of conversation. Not a lot of interaction. Strangers sharing a table wouldn’t even talk to each other. It’s changing. Now, people are talking, engaging, laughing a little bit. This is very encouraging to me. It may seem like a little thing to you, but it’s a big deal to me. I will take this as a sign of hope that all this is making a difference and that spirits are starting to lighten up.

Shelly lost her job at the hospital and now has new transportation. She can go to her new job at a hospital in Chico. As an RN, she is the sole bread earner raising five kids, grandchildren and supporting her mother. Your donations of the Suburban has been a life changer.

This trailer is housing a family in Gridley on the property where he works. The truck is transporting a veteran and his family to a new home in Kentucky. I’d like to personally thank Tony for this donation. You have made a huge difference and I just wanted to acknowledge you.

Acknowledging everybody and their hard work and donations, is almost impossible, so I hope that you forgive me and accept my apology for not being able to reach out individually. Please know that your donations have really helped a lot of people and will continue to do so as long as the need exists.

As for us at the nursery, the work we are doing continues as well. Most of you who have followed us through these emails and our journey with the Camp Fire. I realize that a lot of you signed up to hear about what’s going on at the nursery. Our tips and tricks and fun and amusing tales. Like with the needs of the Camp Fire victims, the nursery is moving along too. I appreciate your patience, very much, in allowing us to bring this story to you.

We will be installing a new fancy roof in our conservatory soon. The new surface let the same light in and reflect the heat away from the building. We are continuing to grow the same beautiful plants we always have.

Our greenhouse is full of the latest and greatest flowers for Spring. It’s calming to walk through. There’s something about the fresh smell of dirt that calms me. You’re welcome to come to High-Hand and walk through and try it for yourself.

Dori is still holding her fun and zany classes and if you would like to join us February 16th and February 23rd, please do.

Painting and decorating a hand crafted bird house can be a lot of fun. Learning fun techniques with chalk paint and ways to embellish your birdhouse will be “funner” with mimosas and fresh scones. You can purchase your tickets by clicking here. $65, plus tax and all the supplies you need. Tell Dori “hello” for me, if you would.

There are so many things that continue with serving the victims of the Camp Fire. We are continuing to seek out the people in the fringes by supporting the people of Magalia and help them find a new norm.

There are victims who can’t speak for themselves. There are the animals who can’t talk. We are still providing livestock feed, grain and other necessities on an as needed basis within the fire region.

Field Haven Feline Center has been taking care of 60-80 cats and kittens in Marysville and Lincoln. They are desperately trying to reunite cats with their owners, but as you can imagine there are many without homes. I would love if you would reach out if you are in need of a new friend. Field Haven can be contacted at 916-434-6022.

I’d like to thank our ongoing partners. So many of you have donated. Teichert, Produce Express, Celebration Center and Livingston Concrete, Vanelli’s Coffee are just a few of the corporations that have unselfishly stepped forward. Thank you.

Giving is not rocket science. You just have to do it, with kindness and compassion and without judgment. It’s very simple to take a moment to sit down and be with somebody right where they’re at. You just have to do it.

Our work is not done. As Spring arrives, Nature will bring about new beginnings, not only here at High-Hand, but new beginnings for the people of the Camp Fire.

Thanks to all of you, we will continue forward.


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.

My Thoughts

I was going to do an email last week. After all that we have been through together in helping the Camp Fire folks, I wanted to do a positive, uplifting email with progress, new beginnings and the gratification that all this is making a difference.

I know it is making a difference because I get to see and deal with it daily. Whether I’m up there or in my office, every day progress is being made. But last week I was sidelined by a phone call and needed time to process it.

I’d received a call from one of the people we were helping inside the shelter. I was told that one of the ladies who we were helping had passed away.  This lady was perfectly healthy when I met her. We’d given her money for day to day expenses and had a solution for a place for her to go. She had gotten sick and had a cold. This I knew. But, in the short time that I had not seen her, she was admitted to a hospital and passed away. This fire continues to claim victims. As far as Red Cross is concerned, I have seen good and bad and, to be honest, without wading into the debate of good or bad, I just think that if you take it on you own it. If you break it, you’re responsible for fixing it.  I don’t know what else to say. 

The Red Cross shelter is closing at the end of the month. They are asking 120 trailers to leave after spending a ton of money making a new paved area for them. They’ll be closing down the indoor shelters as well. Couldn’t they wait until Spring before they shoved the people onto the streets?

There was a brief time in my life when I slept under the stars myself. I can tell you from experience this is not the time to do it. 

At the shelter, Steve is walking trailer by trailer and assessing individual needs. I will be there to help on an as needed basis to facilitate means to help people move along to better destinations. 

In the shelter I am still working with people to find solutions. 

– Chico Shelter Luke and Colton. We’re building a mini house for them. Since a trailer has not come through that would be suited for them, we have started construction on a 20′ mini house.

Luke and Colton need to stay in Chico because that’s where doctors and Colton’s special needs school are located. You and I have funded his mini house build. Would anybody like to adopt them once the house is completed? We will be putting forth a list of things needed – mattresses, linens, etc. Let me know.

– Chico Shelter Joe surgery. If you remember Joe from the early days, we’ve been helping him along with various needs. Here’s an update. His surgery has been postponed. The doctor quit the hospital. His primary physician is looking for a new surgeon. I talked to Joe today. As life goes, things come from different directions. Joe has found a new partner in the shelter and they are going to combine forces when they can and live together. Joe’s plan when the shelter closed was to use a used sleeping bag and rain boots and go out on the streets. This isn’t going to happen. Not on my watch. We are going to build him a mini house. His job is to find a place to put it. My job is to either find a trailer or put him in a mini house. Either way, we’re going to start the build.

Would anybody like to adopt Joe, his partner and a mini house? Let me know.

– Magalia Propane People, James and Christine. I met them in Magalia. They were able to move back home.Their money has gone towards getting their house in order. I was talking to somebody in the food tent and noticed them standing in the corner. It’s not hard to spot people’s needs. It was very easy to tell that they were looking for help.  Looking for someone to ask. I talked to them and asked them what their worry was. They told me they were back home and cleaning up to the best of their ability. Their 250 gallon propane tank empty and no heat. So simple. We put the propane on the church’s account and paid the bill. It will be enough to get through winter and cook with. Gift cards for groceries and some gas cards as well. It will be a long winter for Christine and James. They are trying to save up money to get her brother back home. His ashes are in Chico. He didn’t make it off the hill the night of the fire. 

– Chico Tattoo Gloria and Ralph. Finally on their way to Arizona. It’s been a long couple months, but they headed home.

As I’ve learned throughout this process everything is a moving target and some things fight until the very end. The plan was to fly them from Sacramento to Vegas and have Mom pick them up. Mom got sick. She’s in her upper eighties, but still drives. My kind of woman. Not being able to change the flight, we had to put them over in a hotel in Vegas for the night. The next day Mom was going to get them. That didn’t work out. Mom was too sick to drive. So, $178 later, an Uber from Vegas to Lake Havasu and they’re home.  Thank you for participating with me. Gloria and Ralph have said “thank you” many times. From the shelter to home where they will take care of their mother, a new life begins.

– Chico Jason Stacy Wife in LA. We got her car fixed so she could drive back north so she could be with the family. Jason stayed behind and slept on a friend’s couch. Stacy and the kids went on to her parents house in LA. Jason was able to stay behind and find a place. We assisted in basic living expenses until they were able to move in. A Good Year Service Center fixed her car for the trip back home. We have paid part of those repairs. Jason has a job now and can take it from here. 

– Chico Hold Your Horses. They are a group out of the Bay Area who continue to make food runs to the animals. I’ve given them access to some of our feed supplies. They are doing a very good job of keeping a handle on that and have worked relentlessly throughout. 

– Chico Idaho Family. They made it to Idaho.

The husband started work and the kids are in school. She is trying to get a small home based business up and running. They’ve reached out and said “thank you”. She said, “Sometimes us fire survivors forget to check in with the helpers. We’re all healthy and living. Thank you.”

– Chico Jared and Jenny Paradise Ford Auto. Your donations repaired Jared’s Ford. It was left behind and took quite a beating from the fire. He’s now back to work thanks to your donations. 

I’m working with several people in FEMA trailers. They don’t own these trailers. They can stay there for 18 months. Here’s the frustrating part. I feel like the deck was stacked against them from the very beginning. When you apply for the trailer, you get a FEMA number. That means your 18 months start from that application date. If it took FEMA 3 months to get you into a trailer, you now have 15 months left.  The other kicker is you have to re-certify every month to remain in the trailer. I’m working with several people in FEMA trailers and casting our eyes out into the future as a new housing situation could unfold again for those in FEMA trailers. Frustrating, isn’t it? You survived a fire, three months in the shelter, you have 15 months remaining in your FEMA trailer and have to re-certify with FEMA every month to remain. Can’t the pressure cease for a bit so their feet can be firmly planted on the ground?

-Water. Water is an issue. I’m a bit frustrated as to why private citizens have to fund water to people in the fire area. The Del Oro Water District in Magalia has said the water is safe. However, if not sure, boil it. Not exactly a vote of confidence in your water. Paradise water has various chemicals that do not cook out by boiling. The quantity of water needed in Paradise, Magalia and Konkow is staggering. In Paradise you can get a case of water per day with identification as long as their supplies last. And then what, I ask? The CEO of Del Oro water tried to motivate a Congressman to help. The Congressman said there is nothing he could do publicly. Seriously? That’s the best a Congressman can do for people who have to stand in a water line hoping to get their ration “while supplies last”?

What’s it take to move water into the area? We’ve moved several truckloads. But after reading these emails Ozark Trucking called. I wanted to thank Ozark Trucking, Produce Express and Teichert. Ozark delivered 19 pallets of water to be offloaded at Produce Express. Produce Express was kind enough to offload, store and reload onto a Teichert truck.

Teichert delivered this truck load of donated water to Pastor Doug. This is an example of people coming together in a very non-selfish way and just getting it done. I thank all three of you for facilitating this. Congressman, surely you’re good for a couple truck loads of water? 

As for me, it’s shelter, tiny houses, feeding in Magalia, and continuing to assist families we are currently helping. We, you and I, took them on and we will see them to completion.

It’s not very often that I giggle when I’m working on fire relief projects. This was a work sheet I did for calculating the best price on the water – gallon jugs versus bottles. I only giggled because this is what my mind looks like inside. Believe it or not, there is a flow to all of this. It just goes in a lot of directions at once. 

A Camp Fire and Wildlife Care Association benefit. Join us for an inspiring evening of insight into some of the greatest birds that fly. We will have pictures posted that evening of our work with the Camp Fire. These pictures have not been published and you’ll be able to see some of the faces of people you’ve helped. Join us for an enchanting evening. All proceeds will go towards these two causes.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

From the very beginning at the WalMart parking lot standing in the cloud of smoke, it was hard to see a path. Leapfrogging from issue to issue was the only path at the time. I fretted about winter because I knew it would only make matters worse and in some cases it has. The shelter is closing at the end of the month. The timing couldn’t be worse. However, we, you and I, will continue to push person by person by person.

Through success and disappointment. Through tragedy and new beginnings, all of you supporting this work should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. The heavy lifting doesn’t happen without you. We have gone from giving out $50 bills to feeding a town and building houses.

Like High-Hand, I know that the flowers will come out again. People in the middle of this crisis may not see that, but your donations are continuing to pull this into focus.

Thank you so much. 


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.

Look What You Created

I have made so many trips to Chico and Magalia, that I can’t even begin to tell you how many. I want to tell you what you created. In the beginning, it was the Walmart parking lot, it’s smoke and the despair. It was about all the animals and their suffering. It was about $50 into somebody’s hand when they had nothing. It was about words that some times fell flat, such as “It’ll get better.” It was about frustration with the shelters opening and closing. It was about anger that something like this could even happen in the first place. And it was also about being pissed off that I couldn’t reach out to more people.

It didn’t take long for me to realize in just a few days that this was not going to be a quick fix. I could not just roll into town with your donations and solve everybody’s problems. So, I started thinking as I always do within my business and that was to try to be a critical thinker. I knew that I could not do this work with the people of the Camp Fire without your help. I knew that every penny and every dollar had to be stretched. I also felt that to give out money that did not create a solution to an immediate need, a small step forward and hope was useless. So, with that, I readjusted after just a few days.

With your help, I was in and out of parking lots, people’s RV’s and shelters almost daily. Finding people to help wasn’t the hard part. Coming up with ways to help people move forward was the challenging part. So many layers of the onion had to be peeled at times it was physically and mentally exhausting.

What exhausted me at times the most was laying in bed at night and not being able to sleep. My mind is like a book and every page had a person on it with a different need and so at night I would read the book page after page to try to set up the next day.

I’ve been self employed for many years and without the lessons of entrepreneurship, I don’t think I would have adapted or evolved to be able to keep up with an ever changing situation. I also don’t think I would have been able to keep going without all the support from family and everybody here at High-Hand, both of whom were thrust into the situation unknowingly as I did not announce what I was up to when I had put it out there.

I have received many notes of thank you and support. I read them and I hold onto them. Your support, my family’s support as well as the wonderful people who work at High Hand has been there through all this to carry the day.

The drive up to Magalia starts out very peaceful as you pull off Highway 70. It doesn’t take long, once you make the turn onto Penze Road that the scenery changes.

Within a short distance of just a few miles, everything changes. I wonder if things will ever get better.

I have seen from the early days great things happen to people. I wish I could share them all with you and give you a window into those moments. I’ve tried to do this in these emails, but it really doesn’t do it justice. People have lost literally everything and your donations have managed to help people start lives over again. To bear witness to that and be able to provide those moments of hope has been a blessing that only came when you decided to help.

The Red Cross shelter at Silver Dollar still has people that you and I are helping. I have a solution for a few and am creating solutions for others. I’m doing the best I can there. You can put out your finger many times and point to the way, but if the butterfly doesn’t want to land there, it’s heartbreaking.

Today, we are continuing to feed people at Pastor Doug’s church. Water is a big issue up there and it pisses me off that the agencies are hit and miss.

We have shipped 24 pallets of water to date on top of all the food and other items into Magalia. A truck load of water costs around $3,000.00.

It’s nuts that I have to pay as much for the CRV as the water, but it is the best deal I can come up with so far. If anybody’s got any ideas, I’m all ears. A pallet costs about $250.00. We can fit 12 on a truck. When Doug calls me and I need to infill, I send a truck of water up. There is no word on when their water systems will be good again.

Chico Walmart with kids has been living in a Rocklin hotel for about 5 weeks. From the shelter to the hotel she will start a new life. Tomorrow she and the children will be moving to Gathering Inn. I can’t thank them enough for making a six month commitment to her. She will continue to have access to services, counseling and assistance for her to move forward and put this behind her. I will be checking in.

Chico Alejandro Oroville parking lot now has a job and a trailer to stay in. We helped fix a donated car thanks to you. We will be checking in as well.

Chico Car Key Couple has a new special key for the car that was stolen at the shelter. Also insurance and registration that lapsed during the fire has been paid. They’ve been given a direction.

Chico Carolina escaped the fire. Her son has the scars on his back to prove it from the ashes that fell. She’s gone from the Gridley shelter to Red Cross Kim’s trailer park and now is moving into an apartment in Auburn. We were able to get her a donated car and get her into the apartment. She and her three kids are starting over. She will start a job at High Hand in the next few weeks.

Chico Kurt Feed Store is continuing to distribute animal food to people we have talked to.

Chico Daniel Wood Cutting has been cutting wood and donating it to people to get through the winter. It’s cold up there. Your donations continue to backfill his gas needs as they arise.

Chico Diana needs a car. I’m trying to mentor her to clear up a ticket. She can then at that point get a car and her license back. She’s currently still at the shelter, safe and warm.

Chico Greg with Kids has a home to go to in Magalia but still remains at the shelter. I am continually in touch with him, trying to mentor him to move along.

Chico Jasmine Panda parking lot is now back in a home in Magalia. All is good.

Chico Magalia Jesse Car Registration has his chainsaw and we have a job for him in Magalia if he wants it. I will be in contact with him tomorrow to keep him on course.

Chico Tattoo Gloria and Ralph are meeting me at Southwest Airlines Sacramento tomorrow at 12. I will give them the last few dollars they need to spend a night at a hotel on the other end while they wait for their mother to come pick them up from Arizona.

Chico Idaho Family. From the fire to Salinas to the Home Depot parking lot on Truxel Road, your donations have helped them with gas money and a hotel as they made their two day journey to Idaho to start a new job and a new life.

Chico Shelter Janice with Small Dog has had her car payment and insurance paid for two months. They lapsed during the fire. We agreed that she would remain in the shelter where she is safe and warm. I will meet her on the 6th to give her $100 in gas money. She’s leaving to go live with her sister who has prepared a room for her.

Magalia Smiles got a donated car last week. You’ll remember him in previous emails. I handed him gift cards while standing in the ashes. He’s staying at a room in Chico. I’ll keep you updated.

I’m working with a trailer park near Pastor Doug’s church. The folks who currently own it bought it two months before the fire and also lost their homes. I’ve made a commitment to them to revamp the trailer park by helping them find renters who can pay the rent. The trailer park was on the State’s radar as far as being full of meth labs. The fire solved that problem. I’m going to help the owners fill it with great people and make it a shining success of Magalia. We have our first trailer going in.

There are four slots here for trailers. A fifteen day notice of abandonment has been posted per State law. Once these slots are cleared, we have people in trailers with jobs to move in.

I don’t know where this journey goes, but I will keep going as long as there is need and as long as you, my partners, continue to support this journey. I am still coming across people in desperate need and we are still finding solutions. Understand that without this partnership between you and I none of this happens. None of it. I can go through every alphabet in my contact list and tell you the people and the stories and the outcomes that your kind giving has allowed to happen.

Our annual Wings & Wine event will take new flight this year. All proceeds will go to support our effort in Magalia and beyond. We will also be supporting Wildlife Care Association. I hope you can attend and I hope you will support these worthy causes. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

You and I have started on a journey together that has been sad, humbling and full of triumph. It’s been life changing being so close to it. I wish I could share it all with you.

There’s a new year ahead. A new year of hope. I can’t tell you enough what this partnership between you and I has meant. As hard as it has been, it is also been extremely gratifying to watch people take their lives on with a newfound courage they did not think they had.

Don’t ever question the human spirit. The support all of you have given to this journey has kept the human spirit alive and well.

I am so proud of all of you.


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.

Now The Heavy Lifting Starts

This weekend I spent time talking to this lady. She explained that her husband will not go up to the house with her. This was her second time back to her home and she said it will be her last. She was able to find a jar of coins and that was it. For them, the heavy lifting starts now as they try to figure out what’s next in their lives.

There are signs of hope. Those with insurance are going to rebuild. This lady explained to me that they’d just finished a remodel after a year and a half of hard work. And then the fire. She and her husband are going to move a trailer onto their home site and start over.

I’ve spent countless hours driving back and forth, trying to find solutions for people that seemed so far away. But, progress is being made. Slowly, but it’s progress.

We found a room for rent in Chico for a couple I call Chico Car Key Couple. I have lots of people in my contacts and I have little acronyms that help me remember where I started with them. James and Sandra (their names) had their car keys stolen at the shelter, so I had a locksmith make them a new car key. Hence their name. I found a room for $350.00 a month. Thanks to your donations, we’re going to pay for two months while they look for jobs. They had stayed at four different shelters since the fire. This may not seem like monumental progress, but I had been working with this couple since the very beginning and it feels gratifying to see them start to step forward.

The Red Cross shelter will close January 31st. I’m working to try to find other solutions for people within the shelter. It’s so difficult, but like James and Sandra, I’m not going to give up.

January 3rd, Chico Tattoo Gloria and Ralph as they are known in my contacts will be leaving Paradise for good. Thanks to your donations, airline tickets have been bought and they will start their new life in Arizona. Ralph’s parents are very elderly and it’s time to go home, he said. It is because of you and your donations that a new life can start over for them.

On the 29th of December I will be meeting a couple on the side of the road along I-5 to pass along money needed to drive their family to Idaho where a new job is awaiting. It took a long time for a new path to unfold for them. It is very satisfying to be part of a solution.

Jasmine and her kids have moved back to their home in Magalia, no longer living out of her car. The clean up process has started and your donations are helping to complete this journey for her.

We still have a family in a hotel locally. Many layers of the onion have been peeled and I hope that this time next week I’ll have the last layer peeled.

There are about ten trailers set up at a property in Durham. Kim and Henry have done a tremendous amount of heavy lifting to accommodate the trailers on their property. As these families settle in, your donations will continue to help with basic needs.

A single mother of three, staying in two trailers on the property is hopefully going to move to this area. We’ve been able to locate an apartment and, if all goes well, I would like to give her a job. We will get her connected to the necessary services that will help her to get a new start. Her job in Paradise and home are gone. It’s my wish to make High-Hand her new home.

There’s been a lot of heavy lifting in Magalia. Refrigeration, a heated tent in which to serve food and food distribution are going very smoothly. Your donations helped deliver prepared food for Christmas Eve dinner.

A nice time was had by all on a rainy, foggy night. All of you should be very proud of your donations and what they are doing for people.

Twelve pallets of water were delivered today. Besides food, your donations are paying for water, pellets for heating and propane for cooking and keeping the tent warm.

With all this heavy lifting has come progress at the church. We’re now focused on helping them get through the winter.

There are still many families out in the fringes living in cars. I wonder when the media goes away what will happen. We’re going to continue to work with Pastor Doug in Magalia and Pastor Ron in Chico to find solutions.

Your donations are being used to create matching funds for trailers so we can continue to move families into more sustainable living conditions.

We have been able to donate a few cars and a trailer. I was happy to learn that today a father got a job and drove to work.

So, it is happening. Slowly. But I warn you, when the media goes away please understand that the heavy lifting has just begun. Through your donations we will continue to do everything in our power as long as we can or until every need we can find is resolved.

We are continuing to accept donations. Gift cards, gas cards and money to keep all of this funded through the winter.

Thank you so much for going on this journey with me.


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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