As people were being evacuated from Oroville and surrounding communities, many of our churches opened as spontaneous shelters or were working with other Community partners to meet the needs.
Our NorCal and Nevada District was able to have 3 tractor trailer loads of food and supplies delivered to Trinity Life Church in Sacramento. From Sunday afternoon through Monday our great team of volunteers helped unload the tractor trailers, sort the supplies into separate loads and then deliver product around to many different communities.
Jim deployed to Las Vegas to work with Trinity Life Center of Las Vegas and other Pastors and Churches to teach and train in the area of grief and trauma recovery. Jim was there for a week speaking in churches, meeting with church leaders as well as working with Ginger Passarelli from the Soup Ladies who he had worked with following Hurricane Sandy in Far Rockaway, NY. The Soup Ladies needed a kitchen so that they could prepare meals and work with first responders. Pastor Randy Greer and Vic Caruso from Trinity Life Center made their kitchen available to the ladies. Jim got to work in the kitchen with Ginger’s team and accompany them on two of their trips to Metro Police Stations.
While Jim was finishing his time in Las Vegas, the fires in Northern California started to rage. From Las Vegas, Jim started making contact with Pastors who were responding spontaneously and once he arrived back in NorCal, Jim landed in Novato with one of his board members Greg Crabtree who serves on the Church Board for New Life Center in Novato.
New Life Center was a spontaneous shelter as well as our distribution hub for tractor trailer loads of water from Convoy of Hope. Just as in our Oroville Dam response, pastors and teams from NorCal arrived, unpacked trucks and made up loads of water and other supplies for delivery to churches working with evacuees.
Greg and his team also set up a warehouse that is still serving the people of NorCal and SoCal who have been affected by this years fires.
Jim’s sister, Meg works for CAbi clothing AND just as CAbi provided new clothes for women who lost their homes in Middletown the year before, put together over 6,000 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories for over 550 women who came on Saturday, December 17, 2017. The ladies each had a CAbi stylist who helped the ladies who came to "shop". Each lady left with a bag of clothes.
We were able to provide Women Crisis Response Chaplains to work this event, something CAbi had not done in the past. Jim also worked this event spending time with husbandswho had accompanied their wives. One of the important thing we do is "hear" people's stories. The stories that we heard were life changing not just for the person telling the story but for the 3 of us that were there to "listen".
This past year Jim was accepted into the Executive Academy. The Academy is made up of 40 students from many different City, County, State, Federal, University and Community Based or Non-Governmental Agencies. Jim was told by some of his classmates that he was the first person from the Faith Community they had ever met at the Emergency Management Institute.
The course is 4 weeks long spread out throughout the year and this year, their last class had to be rescheduled because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Jim had been able to network with emergency managers from across the USA and has already been able to assist or connect his classmates to other ministries/groups that they can use to meet the needs of the communities they serve.