Las Vegas and the current calamitous fires blazing in California are reason enough for everyone to mourn. We are all so saddened by these events that one friend of mine speculated that we will be suffering from post-traumatic stress. I agree.
Our volunteers were busy packing boxes for Operation Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief, then, quickly added Hurricane Irma when that storm hit Florida, which then was multiplied to include Hurricane Maria. We changed the name to Operation Hurricanes Disaster Relief.
But on October 9th, the catastrophe hit home with the California fires burning in our backyards, literally. The majority of my family and relatives were evacuated in Napa, Sonoma, and Solano counties along with over 100,000 residents. Ten thousand firefighters and first responders from all over the United States, Canada, and even Australia arrived to battle the blazes in our glorious wine country. As I write this, the torching is not yet contained and the death toll has risen to 40 with several hundred people unaccounted for. These wildfires are the deadliest in California history and have ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres destroying thousands of homes, businesses, and lives.
Yet, Californians are strong. Californians are brave. Californians are resilient.
It is challenging to watch an apocalypse occur without feeling hopeless and helpless. As my teen volunteers and I dropped off boxes of new books, games, and other resources to shelters in the Northern California region, we witnessed communities coming together with grace and gratitude despite losing so much. We were emotionally and spiritually helped by helping others. Read what teen volunteer Zahra Hasanaian had to say about her experience below.
e the Star You Are!® will be participating in Operation Hurricane and Fire Disaster Relief for as long as is necessary to help those displaced. Our volunteers are personally delivering donations to Northern California shelters and we are shipping to the hurricane affected areas. If you want to donate to help in the relief efforts, your contribution is tax deductible and you will receive a receipt.
Checks can be sent to BTSYA, PO Box 376, Moraga, Ca. 94556 or on line through Paypal Giving Fund
More information about BTSYA Operation Disaster Relief Program for fires and hurricanes:: http://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste
By Zahra Hasanian
When disaster strikes, it’s easy to send prayers, watch the news, or complain about how our world is becoming more and more dismal. It’s harder, but also much more rewarding, to send hope as well as concrete help.
This week, I drove to Napa and Solano counties with other Be the Star You Are volunteers and Voice America Radio personalities, Chelsea Pelchat and our Executive Director, Cynthia Brian, to deliver boxes of books to evacuation centers housing people who fled their homes after recent fires in Northern California. Those affected by the fire have been squatting in these centers for days without any source of entertainment. We figured that anyone, young or old, can always enjoy a good book.
Often, I think of myself as helpless against things as arbitrary and ruthless as natural disasters. But my attitude changed with every smile and thank you we received as we handed books to people in person. Sure, I had too much homework on Thursday night and too little time to do it. Yet, it’s important to realize that helping people who have lost everything is more important than a nightly assignment or any other daily task. We went to several different evacuation centers, and the kindness of the people at all the centers was astounding.
What I learned that day is that in the most dire of circumstances, our only source of hope is to help each other. Hope heals.
Zahra Hasanian is a teen volunteer with Be the Star You Are!r charity and a host/reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio broadcasting on the Voice America Kids Network Tuesdays at NOON PT. www.ExpressYourselfTeenRadio.com www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself