Fuddruckers Goes the Extra Mile for Butte Fire Community


By Michele Maki, American Red Cross Volunteer


“When we heard of the devastation and destruction caused by the Butte Fire we wanted to be a part of the relief efforts for all those affected.” George Almeida, Fuddruckers franchise owner shared his heartfelt concerns for the Mountain Ranch and surrounding community. “We hope our food trucks will provide some respite for this community that has been devastated by these fires.” Today, Almeida’s generosity and concern turned into action as his team and the volunteers of the American Red Cross rolled up their sleeves and opened their hearts to serve the famous Fuddruckers burgers to the community.

“I can’t believe you all are doing this for us.  You’ve done so much already.” exclaimed a resident known only as Larry.  “I lost my home of 40 years to the fire.  My late wife and I built it with our own hands.  There has been so much kindness.  I can’t tell you how much it means.”

More praise came from Jen, a Cal Fire Volunteer who expressed the same sentiment. “This is so kind and much appreciated.  There were many Cal Fire folks who lost their homes too. So, for Fuddruckers to drive all the way from the Bay Area to offer us free burger lunches is just amazing!”

“This is a wonderful example of partnering to benefit a community that has suffered terrible losses.” Praised Tracy McBroom, American Red Cross Disaster State Relations Director, Pacific Division for California.  “It’s another step on the road to recovery.”








“Do All The Good You Can”

A Story of Partnership That Made the Difference for Hundreds of Lives

By Michele Maki, American Red Cross

“Do all the good you can.” The Reverends Scott and Denise Wiley and their congregation of faithful at the United Methodist Church of Valley Springs, CA put this tenant of faith into action recently when the disastrous Butte Fire broke out early in September.  “We have been charged since the 1700s by our founder, John Wesley, to “Do no harm; Do all the good you can; Stay in love with God.” explained Reverend Scott Wiley.  “When this disaster struck, the partnership we formed with the American Red Cross many years ago, was put into action.”

Red Cross Community Partners: Reverends Scott and Denise Wiley of the United Methodist Church of Valley Springs

Robin Friedman, District Director for the American Red Cross, has high praise for the congregation too, “The Red Cross is grateful for the generosity and hospitality shown to us by the church and their congregation.  They opened their facility and their hearts to us. Because of this, we were able to fulfill our mission. We were able to have a facility and staging area to set up communications, work areas for our caseworker, nurse, logistic, feeding and sheltering volunteers.  The church provided us with the necessary parking areas for our Emergency Response Vehicles, supply trucks (tents, blankets, shovels, water, etc.) and room to store supplies waiting to be delivered to those affected by the fire.”

“It was only a matter of how we could best serve when the need arose. We remain glad to be of service.” Rev. Wiley said. Through this coordinated effort by the Red Cross and this valued partner, over 2000 meals a day were served and hundreds of families were assisted by Red Cross caseworkers and trained counselors.

The Red Cross continues working with this and other community partners to assist in the recovery effort. They are available on site at at the Disaster Relief Center located at 891 Mountain Ranch Rd, San Andreas, CA.

Community Partnerships-The First Brick in the Road to Recovery

By Michele Maki, American Red Cross

Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine:  You have just returned to what used to be your beloved home.  Ash. That is all that is left. Ash.  You sift through it, hoping to recover something recognizable. You recall how quickly the fire raced through your community. Literally running for your life, with nothing but the clothes on your back.  A feeling of overwhelming sadness grips your heart. Tears start to flow. Yes, you’re grateful to be alive, but all that is familiar…..all that was “home” is gone. Where and how do you start over? How does anyone recover from this kind of tragedy?IMG_0800

Kathleen Harmon, Executive Director for Community Foundation of Amador County knows this story. She has comforted and listened to many in her community share just this kind of horror. “Many in our community have few resources to recover for this kind of tragedy.  That is why I’m so grateful for the help the American Red Cross has given us.  They have provided us with the resources to address the immediate needs of those affected. We know the Red Cross will partner with our foundation and our other community agencies to help us build a firm road to recovery.”

But Harmon knows there is more work to be done.  “The Red Cross message of “Prevent, Prepare and Stay Informed” will help our community navigate the future. We know this will not be the last disaster we face.  We need to do all we can to help prevent the next disaster.  We need to prepare and we need to be informed.  We need to clear, realistic expectations from each of us in this partnership. We all have a part to play.”

The Community Foundation of Amador County has established a Disaster Relief Fund to help in the planning and implementation of a recovery effort.  “We can learn much from the Red Cross.  They came here, to this disaster, and helped create order out of the chaos.  When one sees that Red Cross symbol, we know we can all breathe easier. It means Hope.”

Harmon’s vision for the community Foundation is to assess the recovery needs of her community and how each community partner will contribute and then add their piece to the plan to ensure success.  “We have a very giving community, so it’s important that we honor those funds and not duplicate services.  I look forward to working with our community partners, including the Red Cross, to see this recovery effort realized.”

The Red Cross is grateful to all the community partners in Calaveras and Amador Counties for their help in the disaster relief and recovery efforts.   As all of us continue to work together in partnerships for the sake of our communities will be stronger and more prepared for whatever may come.


Community Partners Are a Piece of the Pie

By Michele Maki, American Red Cross

“We all have a piece of the pie and each piece is very important. If we know how each piece fits, and we all do our part, the pie is made whole and everyone can be fed.” This assessment was shared by Marti Crane, a volunteer for over ten years with the American Red Cross in Rancho Calaveras. Crane is a woman who cares deeply about her community. She serves with several other non-profit agencies such as the Volunteer Center for Calaveras County. She serves as their Director and says she has learned much. “If we all communicate what our agencies can do for the community and come together in cooperation, the community benefits.”

Marti looked around, and saw that kind of partnership and cooperation were clearly evident in the facilities the Red Cross was temporarily using during the Butte Fire relief and recovery efforts. “The United Methodist Church has been so gracious to offer the Red Cross the use of their church hall for our headquarters and staging area. They have been just wonderful!” Marti praised. “And that’s exactly what I’m talking about-understanding what our mission is, and helping one another. Truly, this is a partnership.”IMG_0781

Marti continues her work, cleaning the kitchen the Red Cross had been using. She stops and adds, “I love the Red Cross for their nimbleness and flexibility too. “When the need calls, they act! You have to be flexible in a disaster, because disasters are so fluid. Everything can change, just like that!” Marti continues, “There is another kind of flexibility too, that I love. I can volunteer just so many hours to this, and still be available to give to other causes that are important to me. That kind of flexibility is important to me too. And…..there is so much kindness here. How can anyone pass that up?”

Red Cross Lends a Hand and Hope in the Road to Recovery

“Red Cross Caseworker shares some helpful news with Karen Williams “

By Michele Maki, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I keep thinking this is all a bad dream, but then I look around, and I realize it’s real. The fire took away everything.” Richard Williams, from Calaveras County, shares his story of shock and disbelief.  As he continues his story, his voice cracks and his tired, blue eyes glisten with the hint of tears. “We made it out safely, and I’m grateful, but…..everything……it’s all gone.”  Williams shared how he loved to restore cars, and how the model “A” sedan was about 50% restored.  His vintage record collection is gone.  Williams turns to his daughter, Karen, and goes silent.

Karen continues their story, “We packed the car with our photos and our pets, but some of our kitties panicked and fled.  Some of them didn’t make it. We’re headed to Davis to pick up two that are being treated for burns.  It’s just so hard.” A tender hand reaches out to reassure Karen.  Joan Zbachick, a seasoned Red Cross volunteer and caseworker comforts her.

Patiently and gently, the interview continues and hope begins to surface. When caseworker Zbachick finds out that Karen hasn’t refilled some of her medications because of finances, she re-assures Karen that the Red Cross can help.  Realizing that the Williams’ will likely incur costly veterinarian bills, Jean Kerrigan, RN and Red Cross volunteer assists and also gives them a copy of a proclamation by Governor Jerry Brown, that (in some cases) allows pharmacists to waive co-pays for those affected by fire, including the family pets or livestock. Nurse Kerrigan encourages the Williams family to ask their pharmacist and vet about it.

Visible relief washed over Karen’s face, with the good news.  Additionally, the caseworkers were able to help direct Karen to other agencies at the resource center. When she expressed her gratitude, Zbachick simply smiled, and said “This is what we do.  We’re here to help make your recovery just a little bit easier.”

This is what the Red Cross does: it provides HOPE and a helping hand in the road to recovery.