During the early days of the Camp Fire, our facility was designated as a shelter for evacuees, but others within our City and County saw a need to house those who were here to help. So, began our first encounter with those types of organizations, beginning with Team Rubicon. They are a non-profit organization of veterans dedicated to rescue and recovery work. We have since morphed that “hospitality” into opening our doors to many meetings of various committees of the Long-Term Recovery Group and other groups working on the Butte County process of recovery.
We continue to support St. Nicholas clergy and staff who call our facilities their temporary home by providing and maintaining an office on our campus. Our office is still a hub of activity. Churches, organizations and individuals across the country have provided gift cards and donated money towards relief. These cards and funds are being distributed throughout our community as quickly and effectively as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, organizations such as Adopt a Family, Red Cross, etc. Also, individuals within Chico State Student Life and Chico State Health Center, as well as our own St. John’s and St. Nicholas’s parishes have been effective in getting resources to those in need.
Another outlet for ministry from our community comes through the efforts of Fr. Aidan Rontani. Both St. Peter’s, Red Bluff and St. Andrew’s, Corning have been reaching out to those housed in FEMA trailers at the Casino in Corning. This ministry is part of a new and growing need that addresses our changing neighborhoods. Throughout the county, temporary housing, home alterations, mass living communities, and pop-up trailer/campsites have had an impact on our existing neighborhoods. Increased traffic, both by motorized vehicles and by foot/bike, have changed traffic patterns. Our stores are maximized by the increase of still over 20,000 people in Chico. Growing pains in some areas are extreme, and how we address these changes while using the resources of the gospels is our challenge. Changes to all neighborhoods, whether by FEMA trailers or just more cars have caused us all to review our approach to destruction in our area.
St. John’s will continue to be engaged in our own parish life as well as a beacon to our community. Though the trials and tribulations of loss can be overwhelming, if we stand together through prayer, faith and hard work, we will overcome the obstacles that currently obstruct our Chico community. It will not be easy, and it will take time, effort and strength. These are the gifts that our parish have.