Sonoma County "Nuns" Fire Survivors

$3,429 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 32 people in 17 months
Created October 13, 2017
Devin McClernan
on behalf of Stephanie McClernan

We're raising funds for those in Kenwood who lost their homes and are displaced by the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County. We'll be bringing up supplies and using a portion of the funds to pay for a generator and other tools required for sifting through the rubble. We know of 10+ families in our community who have lost it all too. We need generators, gas cans, gas, extension cords, tools, BBQs, propane tanks, clothing, shoes, boots, tents, cots, blankets, coffee makers, food, water, etc. There's a full list of goods needed below.

We are also considering donating a portion of the funds to the beautiful State Parks in the area that have been destroyed by the fires.

Here's our personal story:

On Monday, October 9, we lost our family home in Kenwood, CA to the Nuns Fire, which has devasted much of the town and surrounding county. The photo above is our beautiful home going to heaven. R.I.P. house.

Around midnight, we got a phone call from the neighbor to evacuate their home in Kenwood, CA. Devin saw a Facebook post regarding the fire at 12:14am and called the house line immediately. No answer. Called again. No answer. Called Gary's cell. No answer. Called Steph's cell and finally got an answer. They were already out of bed and on the road with the pets driving away from the flames that could be seen everywhere. As we write this message, we're just thankful and full of gratitude we got out with the shirts on our back and our pets. A special thanks to our neighbors Joan, Peter and Toni who alerted my parents.

Later that day, we learned that our house burned down to the ground sometime after the escape. An old family friend, Dennis, from Gary's college years and our neighbor, managed to get up there and snap the pictures seen above. He sent them around 1pm. It's surreal to think this happened so fast .

From the images, it looks like there's nothing left except three support beams and Gary's tractor (not pictured). It's hard to imagine that all our pictures, family heirlooms, prized possessions and most of our childhood belongings are all gone. Most importantly though, we are together and will start rebuilding soon. Everything can be replaced, but people cannot.  Our family is strong and we will only grow stronger.

Sadly, we won't be able to return to our home for the holidays and reminisce on simpler times.  What will we do? Where will we be celebrating? So many unknowns in life, but this is a huge uncertainty. Where will we live for now? How long until insurance kicks in so we can start rebuilding? We're busy figuring it all out.

Rest assured, we will rebuild our dream home that we designed and built with our blood, sweat and tears. As many of you who came to Savor Sonomal last year, the house was never completed until recently.  In 2016, we finally decided make a push to finish it before Gary retired in March of 2017 from Far Niente, which we're so happy is still standing. We've had many memories created there and the good times will continue. For now though, we have to figure out where we will live and return to some type of normalcy. 

As luck would have it, we had a vacation planned and we're together with Devin in San Diego making the most of the situation. The hotel we're at has been so kind and supportive. The front desk gifted us some wine and even paid for our dinner the first night.  It's nice to be here right now and we're eager to get back north.  Once the roads are open, we'll make our way back north and assess the damages. Special thanks to Nick at Inn at the Park for his generosity and big heart. He's exactly what we needed right now and look forward to helping each other as he has family in Fairfield area, which is burning too.

In the meantime, we're organizing a relief mission to supply our surrounding community and other survivors with various items to help them get by. We're currently pursuing U-Haul and other companies to donate transporation. It seems to be tricky and we'll pay for it if needed. Here's a list of items that we believe will benefit those with nothing left:

1. Underwear
2. Socks
3. T-Shirts
4. Shoes & Boots
5. Hats
6. Jackets Sweaters
7. Sweaters
8. Pants
9. Food
10. Water
11. Camping Gear
12. Tooth Brushes & Paste
13. Deodorant
14. Shampoo & Towels
15. Razor/Shaving Cream
16. Toilet Paper
17. Food
18. Water
19. Gloves
20. Sheets
21. Blankets
22. Respirators
23. Shovels/ Rakes/Metal Detectors
24. Tents
25. Cots
26. Air Pads
27. Pillows
28. Books
29. Games
30. Propane Stoves & Tanks
31. Generators
32. Portable Shower Systems

To see the areas affected and still on fire, check out this map and you'll see much assistance is needed:


Winter is soon approaching and it will be wet and cold. If you would like to meet in person and drop off supplies, Devin will be back in Los Angeles on Wednesday. We've already got a large load of clothing thanks to our cousin and his wife, Kevin & Sandy, who are doing their good work at AMTC in Texas. Please contact Devin via Facebook or text message to coordinate. Thank you to everyone who has reached out and given so much already.  If you have any ideas on how to make this situation easier, let us know.  Many Blessings.

The Macs
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It has been sometime since I've updated everyone and I've had a note to post for a couple months now. You know how it goes. The show must go on!

I just want to thank everyone again for their generosity and let you know where the funds ended up going. Since Gary & Steph had such incredible insurance coverage, they reached out to their long time friend, Carolee Fagent, and asked her who the neediest family was in their circle. Carolee immediately thought of Michelle Gordon and I'm glad we could help someone in despair.

Description of Recipient of "Go Fund Me" funds:

"Michelle Gordon has been a colleague and good friend of Carolee for about five years. She was an advanced math teacher at the local Kenwood school. To describe this professional woman, the words Carolee would use are: organized, highly intelligent, worthy of respect, has high expectations, and yet nurturing care for her students. She also demonstrates a strong faith in God, as her husband was a Pastor of a Christian Church.

Michelle's orderly, organized life started falling apart about three years ago when her husband was diagnosed with serious leukemia. He was a real fighter, and fought the disease for a year, including chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. Through this year, Michelle was faithful in coming to work in her teaching position and tried to remain calm and collected for everyone around her. Eventually her husband, Pat, died of the disease.

While Michelle was the ordered, logical and mathematical thinker in her family, Pat was the more emotionally supportive partner and she truly fell apart after his death. She realized that on a teacher's salary at a private school, with a deceased Pastor husband, she was facing financial difficulties. Her son was in Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas, after earning his Bachelor's degree at UC Davis, and her daughter was in nursing school. She had to quit her teaching job and find something more financially productive to pay her mortgage, bills, and food, even though she is a frugal woman.

She obtained a position at an investment/tax firm, and began training, and getting licenses and certifications needed. Since she had been in the professional business world before teaching, transitioning to that culture was natural enough. She tried to save up, and sell her house in Coffee Park, Santa Rosa, because the daily memories were too painful of raising her family there with Pat. That house burned down, as well as the next home she purchased and lived in for only four months in the Fountain Grove area of Santa Rosa.

When her home burned down on October 8, Michelle was despondent. She had worked so hard to recover from her husband's passing, and attended grief counseling, changed churches and felt like she had turned the corner in beginning her lonely single life. In her mind, everything unraveled because she had believed in "GRIT"- the combination of very hard work, passion and enduring commitment to survive."

The day before receiving our collective funds, Michelle had just found out that her insurance was $150,000.00 short to cover rebuilding the exact house she had only lived in for four months. The timing was perfect and she was incredulous that strangers would reach out in this way. I think we did a great deed. Thank you again to all who donated and made a positive impact in this devastating situation..

- The Macs
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Thank you to everyone who donated so many useful items. We found a place that accepted everything in Santa Rosa called Crossing at Jordan, which is giving away items to fire victims. We’ve been busy digging and taking care of business this week. Gary and Steph got a new bed in the mail today. The adventure continues!
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One load from a kind young lady from San Diego who responded to a Facebook post. I'm making three other pick ups down here and then staying in Los Angeles. I've got several more pickups to make in Laguna, Irvine, Huntington Beach and LA. I think I'll need a larger vehicle. This is going to help so many people. I'm headed up on Thursday and can make more collections before. Thanks so much for all the generosity.
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What a roller coaster week. A few lows and mostly smiles with all the love from our friends, family and even strangers. It was "perfect timing" as Gary has been saying all along as we enjoyed our vacation in San Diego the last week as much as possible. Gary & Steph just got dropped off at the airport and they're hopefully getting onto the property tomorrow. No one knows if the roads are opened or closed. Devin is staying in Los Angeles for another week and collecting more supplies until further notice. After talking to some friends and family, they suggested I he stay south until things settle. Thank you for all the support. We will give you another update soon.
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$3,429 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 32 people in 17 months
Created October 13, 2017
Devin McClernan
on behalf of Stephanie McClernan
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