Recently, after losing my home in the Camp Fire, I had to pose the question: “how do you say goodbye to an entire town?” — something with which I am still struggling. Almost immediately after originally posing this question, however, I was miraculously faced with another: “how do you say thank you to an entire town?”

My family escaped the tragedy in Paradise with our lives, luckier than many. We arrived in Humboldt in shock, trying to understand what was happening, to make sense not only of our loss, but the scale of the devastation, the sheer number of people suffering. We focused primarily on our children, getting them settled and feeling safe in a community that was only marginally familiar to them.

While we have strong roots and extended family here, we left Humboldt five years ago in search of employment and a lower cost of living. Humboldt never stopped holding a special place in our hearts, but we honestly weren’t expecting to return, and obviously not under such dire circumstances. Our return, however, was nothing short of amazing, as we were almost instantly met with overwhelming compassion and unprecedented generosity.

The community mobilized. By the time we really began registering the sheer scope of our need, we were already being met with donations and contributions of all kinds. Gifts from family members, family friends, past acquaintances, past coworkers, tangential relations and complete strangers. A place to live, furniture, clothes and books for our kids. I tried to keep track, to send thank you cards, but I … failed. I vacillated between overwhelming grief and overwhelming gratitude, and became frozen. I’m sorry.

I have never felt so lost and so supported at the same time. Through all the grief and shock and time spent rebuilding, focusing on our kids, and re-evaluating career paths and plans, I found myself crying tears of joy and gratitude, marveling at this amazing community that welcomed us back with open arms, without question or hesitation. Thank you. A million times, thank you. You’ve given us back not only safety, warmth, and sustenance, but a much needed sense of community. We are proud to be here and to call you friends.

I’d like to specifically note a few institutions and individuals. If you’re not on this list and should be, please accept my sincerest apologies, and know that we are still forever grateful to you for coming to our aid.

We have our lives due to chance. We have a home because of you.

  • Adel’s Restaurant
  • Anglin’s Second Hand
  • Booklegger
  • The Brown Family
  • Cindy Bonomini
  • Desiree MacDonald
  • Eureka Books
  • The Fisher Family
  • Everyone who donated through GoFundMe
  • Everyone at Humboldt County Office of Education (Special thanks to Lori Breyer, Janine Melanson, Pam Goslin, and Doug Lee for organizing fundraisers and providing housing)
  • Imagine
  • Jennifer & Gina with Miranda’s Rescue
  • Jennifer McDonald-Corey
  • Jon Sapper
  • Lost Coast Brewery (Rosie and friends)
  • Megan Smith
  • The Patrons of Redwood Gun Club
  • Restaurant 511
  • Sherry Tilch
  • Six Rivers Brewery
  • The St. Bernard’s Boys’ Basketball Team
  • The Tackmier Family
  • The Toy Box
  • The Trimmer Family
  • The Vecchio Family
  • Washington School and Teri Silvers
  • The Zimmerman Family