HCRN came to Northern California following the Valley Fire that destroyed much of Middletown and the surrounding area. This is a rural community in the poorest county of California. The Valley Fire swept through the neighborhood of Anderson Springs and destroyed 179 homes, leaving only 19 standing. It is a neighborhood with one entrance and exit. It was nestled along a mountain stream in the woods and was a place where people sought solitude and the comfort of nature. HCRN and our rebuilding project, Hope City, have been working on several properties in Anderson Springs, as the neighborhood continues to rebuild four years after the fire.

Of the properties Hope City is working on, three of them are all next door to each other. This has allowed our volunteers and homeowners to witness what the process of rebuilding looks like. At one property, a foundation is poured, another has it’s roof trusses being delivered and the final home has a happy homeowner moved in and enjoying life. The volunteer experience is such that they do not always see what all their hard work accomplishes in the long run. To be able to witness what the pattern of progression looks like, many of our recent volunteers have been more determined to get as much done as possible.

Bernie and Darci are the homeowners entering the roofing stage of rebuilding. Bernie is quite the character, full of energy and determination. He has been actively involved in the rebuilding of his own home, something HCRN does not require of homeowners who qualify for a Hope City build. Bernie’s determination is strengthened everyday by Darci. On site he gushes about her to the volunteers, as they lay sub floor, or raise framed walls. He is very hands on and can’t wait to have a home Darci can come home to everyday.

Ariel’s home just had its foundation poured, and will be moving into plumbing and flooring soon. Ariel had been living in a temporary housing situation, and when that ended she found herself house sitting as a means of supporting herself, as well as keeping her rental costs low. As her home has entered the early phases of rebuilding, Ariel has had the chance to meet a couple volunteer teams. It’s been an opportunity to share her experiences during the fire, but also see how kind the world can be. The kindness and generosity of our volunteers highlights why our program is so beneficial to the whole recovery of our homeowners. We try to meet not just their physical needs, but their spiritual and emotional needs as well.

Janis has a finished home, and so much joy and thankfulness in her life. Through the course of her rebuild, so many volunteers have been a part of getting her home. And Janis has had every single one of them sign her bible. When clean up for the fire began, Samaritan’s Purse, one of HCRN’s partners, came to the area to begin sifting properties, looking for beloved objects that may have survived the fire. When they left Janis Irvin’s property, they left her a bible signed by every member of the sifting team who had been there. It meant so much to Janis, and it’s became a treasure she looked to as her home came closer and closer to being finished. “I never imagined I would have a house like this,” Janis said as she began to tear up.

HCRN came to Northern California to assist with recovery after the Valley Fire. Since 2015, we have responded to 15 fires in this region, and have begun rebuilding projects in multiple counties. In every community, there are Ariel’s and Bernie’s and Darci’s and soon there will be a lot more Janis’s. We can’t do that without our volunteers. We can’t be everywhere, but without our volunteers, we’re nowhere. If you’d like to be a part of Rebuilding Homes and Restoring Lives, contact Travis Cox at 574-333-7728 or by email at [email protected]