The California fires are no longer dominating headlines, but the challenges faced by those affected have just begun.In this period of extraordinary loss, though, a communal strength has risen, and it’s evidenced in the innumerable stories.
Dale Rhodes was living a fairy tale life in Malibu—the loving family, strong career, a house by the beach, endless sunsets and perfect surf. Having grown up in Section 8 housing in the San Fernando Valley, his life and accomplishments have been hard-earned. But one blue-skied autumn morning, Dale’s idyllic life was upended.
“We had every prized possession from art to cameras to jewelry,” Dale shares, “furniture, surfboards and wetsuits—all sentimental. So that night we just cried... There are unbelievable things that we’ve lost, but you know what? They’re things and we have our lives.”
Nearby, Carole Reed echoes many of Dale's sentiments. Carole has been a Malibu resident since 1971. She lost her husband at a young age, when her two sons were only 9 and 12. Forced to start over, she moved into a small guest barn offered to her by friends, where she's lived for 25 years. It now lies in ash and rubble. At 78-years-old, Carole is forced to start anew once again.
“You know what?” Carole shares on the importance of reminding yourself you’re strong, “Maybe it’s time some of us need to reinvent ourselves. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m 78-years-old and I’m just getting started.”
The two share that the extensive community effort to support them and others who've suffered has been remarkable and powered by all walks of life. Politics and pocketbooks have no voice in times like these. Dale attests: "The one positive thing I can take away from this tragedy is that people are good."
Carole echoes the sentiment, and concludes, “I hope this state of mind can stay and that we can move it forward.”
To help the communities affected by the California fires move forward and rebuild their lives, purchase your Forward Together shirt here. 100% of all profits will be donated to The California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund which supports recovery and preparedness efforts for major California wildfires.