Eleven UUP members gathered in a listening circle last Sunday to reflect on the impact of the recent wildfires on our lives. We learned about evacuated members and also about those in our congregation who are sharing their homes or donating their time and energy to the relief efforts. We shared that the fires which threatened our homes also brought stress and worry. The following is a list of some of the ideas we generated. What the congregation could do:
1. Gather and distribute helpful information on resources available to Sonoma County residents.
2. Encourage congregants to participate in home sharing. As part of this effort, find out who in our congregation would be willing to host others.
3. Support each other. Offer to take other UUPers out for coffee or dinner or a movie. These social connections can relieve stress and provide a time to listen.
4. Consider a group congregational effort. The example given was making toiletry kits, but it could also be one of many other options. If we create a group effort, consider finding out about underserved groups such as undocumented folks.
5. Encourage long term volunteering at evacuation centers. Many Sonoma County people will be in crisis for a long time. Provide entertainment at centers.
6. Contact the Redwood Empire Food Bank to see how they are affected and how we might help.
7. Lara Abel offered to create a congregational survey to find out who has been affected by the fires and what help they need. She can do this relatively easily, as she just created a survey for the 30.000 SRJC students. Diana Spaulding, George Beeler, Kristina Bennett and Lisa Nosal agreed to vet the survey. The results will be given to the caring committee and others as needed.
I appreciate the members who gathered together for an impromptu meeting. It is such a solace to be together at this difficult time to plan how we can work together to heal ourselves and our beloved Sonoma County. – Marlene Abel