Tzu Chi Sacramento Grants Wildfire Survivors With Cash Cards and Hope for Future

Northwest  |  October 30, 2022
volunteers at Sacramento Service Center
Tzu Chi USA volunteers at Sacramento Service Center assisting disaster survivors. Photo/Joe Rokser

Written by Chen Bihui
Translated by Chen Chen
Edited by Andrea Barkley

The Mosquito Fire on September 6th, between El Dorado County and Placerville, coincided with Northern California’s rare drought. Under the high heat, the mountain fire spread uncontrollably. In addition, low visibility and geographical difficulties of deep valleys impeded helicopters from fighting the fire. 

After multiple attempts, the collective effort of the firefighting teams finally put the fire to an end in late September. During the wildfire, Tzu Chi Sacramento volunteers actively participated in the assistance. At the end of September, the county administration arranged for the Local Assistance Center, LAC, to station for five days to accept victims’ applications for emergency funds. Then, on October 7th, 8th, and 23rd, they distributed cash cards to 12 victim households.

Rare Drought Caused Wildfire

Mosquito Fire is approximately 56 miles from Tzu Chi Sacramento Service Center. To the west is the city of Auburn, with nearly 80,000 residents. As such, the priority of fighting this fire is to protect surrounding cities with dense populations and significant economic influence in the southwest. The day after the fire, the county regional government established two disaster evacuation centers and built a third one on September 12.

In the aftermath, The Service Center provided bathrooms and military beds. The Salvation Army donated meals and pet shelters. And nearby residents gave blankets and snacks to victims. The fire lasted for over a month and ended with the dedicated effort of firefighters. Survivors were able to return home beginning late September finally.

After hearing news of the fire, Tzu Chi Sacramento Service Center actively took charge. Since the Service Center was only an hour’s drive away from affected households by the Mosquito Fire, volunteers decided to distribute cash cards. Survivors chose their pickup date freely and got the chance to learn about Tzu Chi USA’s venue in the meantime. The survivors eagerly expressed gratitude for Tzu Chi USA’s kindness as they picked up their cash cards. Additionally, 90% of victims adopted a Bamboo Bank.

Survivors Echo the Compassion of Tzu Chi USA

Bret Hester who received help from Tzu Chi expressed gratitude to Tzu Chi.

Bret Hester, who was referred to Tzu Chi USA by Red Cross for emergency funds, was accompanied by a 96-year-old neighbor that day to pick up a cash card. He was very grateful to Tzu Chi for receiving this fund, which would support his expenses on clothing, food, and other necessities. He said many organizations exist in LAC, but only Tzu Chi USA could help the victims. 

I am grateful for Tzu Chi's help, and I also got a Bamboo Bank. I will echo Tzu Chi USA's compassion by helping more people and encouraging more people to do good deeds. We all live under the same sky. We can do more to help each other.

Tzu Chi volunteers assist victims with filling out forms. Photo/ Joe Rokser

Brandee Knego, who works as an office accountant assistant, was touched by the story of Tzu Chi Bamboo Bank. She said she would donate the Bamboo Bank to a store-owner friend so customers might join in doing good deeds. Brandee expressed that although she is Christian, her religion shares the mission of love and giving.

I love the origin of Tzu Chi. That it started with one person and spread to tens of thousands of volunteers was such a mighty feat. You have helped me today, and I have adopted a Bamboo Bank to put at my friend’s store counter so that more people can contribute to doing good.

Help Each Other to Speed up Community Recovery

Olivia Smart, 96-year-old, actively helped her neighbors during the fire and accompanied neighbor Bret to pick up a cash card on the distribution day.

Love and care are very important. During the fire, we all tried our best to help each other. I am glad that my home escaped the fire attack. I hope my impacted neighbors can soon return to their homes.

Jamie Gomez, mother of three, expressed that Tzu Chi cash card greatly helped families displaced by the fire.

Jamie Gomez, who has three kids, had to accompany two of her autistic children through their treatment process. Now that the fire had displaced them, they face many burdens. However, Jamie continues to help her needy neighbors in the face of tragedy actively. 

 Upon receiving the Tzu Chi USA cash card, Jamie Gomez said, “These emergency funds can help us quickly restore our regular lives. Especially after being displaced for nine days, our expenses have increased. But we are thankful for Tzu Chi’s kind support. After the fire, receiving help from strangers like you made us feel positive energy we have never felt before.”

More News Stories