by Megan Barber Allende
CEO, Community Foundation of Mendocino County
There are many ways to help someone in need, but there can be something so satisfying about putting hammer to nail and creating something concrete. A roof to shelter, a door to protect, a foundation to hold a lifetime within its walls. This past month Mendocino-ROC partners Hope City and the Mendocino County Construction Corp teamed up to put their collective skills to use in rebuilding for survivors of the Redwood Complex Fire.
The Mendocino County Construction Corps (MCCC), with the support of the Community Foundation, Ukiah Unified School District, the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce, North Coast Builders Exchange, and many local professionals trained 17 high school seniors over the past four months, focusing on workplace safety, framing, electrical wiring, roofing, concrete, plumbing and more. MCCC was developed to address the long-term construction worker shortage in our area, a shortage made worse by the devastating fires of October 2017.
The firestorm has left many without a path to secure long-term housing. The Disaster Fund for Mendocino County is focused on helping the uninsured and underinsured who have no options to rehouse themselves. With the support of our donors, the Disaster Fund is able to lend a helping hand in covering the cost of materials. The MCCC students lent newly trained labor; and Hope City offered leadership to help survivors rebuild one nail at a time.
Many survivors reported the need to have a shed to store the tools necessary to work on their properties in a safe place. This presented a perfect opportunity for the MCCC students to construct a small structure from the ground up, applying many of the skills they learned in the previous weeks. Four survivors received these 8' x 8' sheds utilizing MCCC labor and Disaster Fund grants for materials. Working on the survivors' scorched properties, creating something with new skills, these students discovered their ability to lend a helping hand.
In the second week of their hands-on boot camp, the MCCC students had the opportunity to increase their support by beginning the foundation for the first Disaster Fund supported home rebuild. In the heat of the June sun, students worked eight-hours a day bending rebar, building a form, and setting up the infrastructure for a foundation to be poured. They had the opportunity to meet and interact with the fire survivor, for whom they were building, lending a very personal touch to giving back.
Hope City, an Indiana-based non-profit, helps a community to rebuild homes after a disaster and has been working in Lake County since the 2015 Valley Fire. They are now expanding their experienced team to focus on rebuilding in Mendocino County for survivors of the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire. They focus on assisting survivors in need of long-term housing solutions without other options. Hope City has been approved to begin building five new homes in Redwood and Potter Valleys over the next year. These homes will be built with volunteer labor led by skilled construction professionals.
Now that the MCCC students have broken ground on the first home in Redwood Valley, Hope City is seeking local volunteers to join in the rebuilding efforts. Volunteers contribute to the different stages of a house build, varying anywhere from laying the foundation, framing the walls, all the way up to dry walling, painting, and roofing. Any level of experience is welcome. This is our collective opportunity to demonstrate the resiliency of our unique community and give back to our neighbors in need.
I feel fortunate that the Community Foundation was in a position to help young men and women in our community help others. Now we are asking the community to take this opportunity to help their neighbors in need and become involved in the rebuilding effort.
To get involved contact Mendocino-ROC Project Manager Rose Bell at email@example.com. To help close the gap in rebuilding our community, you can still make a donation to the Disaster Fund for Mendocino County.