Valley Fire Relief, Visit from the Bishop

Valley Fire Relief, Visit from the Bishop

by Deborah Smith, Senior Warden, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lakeport

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lakeport has begun our Valley Fire Relief Effort with donations from around the state, and even visitors from Texas. Our relief effort began the same day as the fire broke out, when I was called by Red Cross to open a shelter in Kelseyville for Cobb residents. Thrift store manager Nancy Carter was called and asked to be ready to aid evacuees. Alethea and Bill Eason, and Roland Simpson were evacuated first. Within 24 hours, we had witnessed one of the most destructive fires in California history. For days, no one knew the extent of the damage. (Pictured here is St. John's, Lakeport Vestry member and Middletown teacher Alethea Eason, meeting with fire survivors at Hidden Valley campgrounds.)

A call went out for help, and The Episcopal Church answered! I was contacted by Episcopal Relief & Development and the Office of the Bishop to ask what was needed. In a surprise visit on Saturday, September 19th, Bishop Barry Beisner brought a generous amount of gift cards to be given to persons impacted by the Valley Fire. This was followed by a visit from the Rev. Phina Borgeson, Deacon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Sonoma, and the Very Rev. Daniel Green, Dean of the Russian River Deanery and Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Petaluma. They brought gifts of gas and grocery cards from The School of Deacons in Berkeley, St. John’s, Petaluma, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Sebastopol and St. Michael’s and All Angels in Fort Bragg. This was followed by a visit from the Rev. Kay Rohde, the Ministry and Development Coordinator, with another gift of gift cards from the Mercy and Justice Committee at St. Stephen’s, Sebastopol’s. We have also received direct donations, and a special donation by St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville from a plate collection at their Sunday service. 

The blessings continue! Gift cards have been given to Middletown school families, Kelseyville shelter residents and others impacted by the fire through the thrift store. Over $3500.00 worth of cards were distributed at one parent meeting at the local elementary school, with help and leadership of Alethea Eason and the Rev. Kay Rohde. More need has been identified and funds are still needed. We are working with the Middletown School District to identify those families most in need, including the uninsured and those ineligible to government aid. Please donate to St. John’s Episcopal Church noting Valley Relief Effort. Thank you all for your contributions during this time of need.

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