It’s time again for our favorite story to tell: another person getting home! Today we welcome Janis Irvin into her home and celebrate with her and all of the organizations who came together to make it happen. Janis lost her home in the Valley Fire that swept through the Cobb Mountain area and destroyed much of Middletown, CA. HCRN and our building project, Hope City, were proud to partner with North Coast Opportunities and Hammers for Hope on Irvin’s home. These organizations were able to help bring the CalHome program into Lake County to help fire survivors rebuild.
Kevin Cox, HCRN’s CEO and founder, started off the home dedication saying Janis, “Is someone who I truly admire. She knows what she wants and won’t settle for anything less.” The assembled crowd chuckled as Irvin’s bright home stood in the background of the dedication. Cox continued, “I think you got about 99.9% of what you wanted.” Irvin responded, “I have 100% of the house I love.” And with that, Cox invited Moke Simon to speak.
Simon wears many hats in Lake County and today was representing Hammers for Hope and the CalHome program. The process of getting members of his community home has been a driving force in everything Simon has done since the Valley Fire. “I wanna thank everybody who put this project together,” Simon said, “I wanna thank everyone for their perseverance.” Simon presented a small gift to Janis on behalf of Hammers for Hope. Irvin asked, “Is it a hammer?” She unwrapped the package and lo and behold, it was a hammer! Moke gave Janis a big hug saying, “I’m just happy to be here. It’s a great day.”
Next, David Thurber from Team Lake County, the long term recovery committee for Lake County, came to say a quick word. Thurber has been passionate about getting families home and leading the long term recovery committee as they examine where their community is and where it will go. Thurber said, “Like so many families here in our community, it’s been a journey. On behalf of our whole community, welcome home.”
Two more important people in Janis’s journey home were also present at the dedication. They each gave a very short speech, but it was an emotional time for both. First, Melissa Reece, with Catholic Charities, came up and gave Irvin a great big hug, saying, “I cry at every single one of these. It warms my heart to be able to do this work.” Next was Voris Brumfield, who had been President of Team Lake County and a member of Irvin’s neighborhood. Brumfield said, “It was devastating when we lost over 90% of the homes in this community. Each one that comes back gives us all hope.” Brumfield gave Janis another hug before passing it off to Kevin.
At every home dedication we like to give our homeowners a few gifts to welcome them into their new home. The first is a copy of the “The Peanuts Movie,” as a gift from the Schulz family, who have been great supporters of our work. Next, we present a quilt from one of our church partners. Irvin loved this gift the most, as so many of her quilts from family and growing up were lost in the fire. Next, our Lake County construction manager hand makes simple crosses for the homes, a small reminder of who it was that made all of this possible. And finally, a wall decoration, to make the house feel like home.
It was a joyful day, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts from all of our partners, including every volunteer team who came through our camp and worked on Irvin’s home. Kevin said, “The relationships that we form help us to accomplish the end goal. We will always do what we say we’ll do.”