The Disaster Relief Center opened
2-weeks after the Camp Fire started in Paradise, California which, was on November 8, 2018. It was open for 61 days closing on January 27, 2019. The first 30 days the Lions Clubs served between 3,000 -4,000 people providing everything from basic food necessities to toiletries, shoes and diapers. The Chico Breakfast Club was responsible for getting the workers to help with handing out food and other supplies each day. The Disaster Relief Center was operating at a high capacity and was giving out $50,000 - $70,000 worth of food each week to the victims of the fire. Lions Clubs from all over the United States were sending funds to help. In turn, the Chico Breakfast club and Paradise Host Lions Club would bought food, gas cards, cleaning supplies, etc. for the people who were left with nothing after the fire ripped through Paradise, California. Lions Club Volunteers came from the Willows, Forest Ranch, Loma Rica, Gridley, Sutter, Redding Host, Enterprise, Fort Jones, and even from Sacramento and San Francisco to provide service and help.
During the Camp Fire, Lions Clubs from Sacramento brought up semi truck loads for food several times and just before Christmas 2019, they brought up 2 semi-trucks full of food, enough Christmas dinners for over 300 families, as well as Christmas gift items for children.
expense for the Camp Fire relief center was $32,000 the first week, then $18,000 to $22,000 for the following weeks (This much and more in donations as well).
Number of people served over the two months was about 19,000. The response was from almost every club in the district either by contributions or sending volunteers. The Gridley Lions Club helped at the fair grounds and helped to man a local relief center. Live Oak Lions Club sent the first food donations from the district. Almost before the center was set up, the Lions Club District in Sacramento sent $11,000 to get us going, also $5,000 from California Lions Foundation and $10,000 from Lions Clubs International Foundation. The Millbrae Lions Club sent $15,000, Foster City Lions Club sent a total of $33,800 and Grass Valley Lions Club sent $11,466. These were direct donations to the district. Weaverville Lions Club sent $5,000 and the Prescott Lions sent $5,000 for gift certificates.
The Paradise Host Lions and other Chico Clubs also received donations that largely went to gift certificates. Two Paradise schools received donations, $10,000 went to Ridgeview High School and $5,000 went to the Achieve Academy. Gas cards were given out as well as individual help to Camp Fire Survivors.
We had many non-Lions helping at the center including church groups, individuals that just wanted to help. We also received volunteers from the Boy Scouts of America on several occasions and they gave us diapers, non-perishable food, dog and cat food. In the last two weeks the disaster relief center was open, we also had 4-8 workers from the California Conservation Corps out of San Jose each day.
The day of the Camp Fire, the local Paradise Host Lions Club had 36 members and 16 members in the Business and Professional club in Paradise. Seven of the members from Paradise Host had their homes saved during the fire and only one member from the Business and Professional club had theirs. Everybody else lost their home. The Business and Professional Club decided to turn in their charter and on July 1st, 8 of their members joined the Paradise Host Lions Club. 16 members of the Paradise Host Club moved out of town after the fire. Currently four members drive over an hour to attend Paradise Lions Club meetings, however most of the members drive 30-40 minutes to attend the Paradise Host Lions Club meeting
The rebuilding process is slow, but the local Lions Club is gaining new found strength and they have been able to add 16 new members for a total now of 45 members to date. For over one year the club was not able to meet in Paradise due to no potable water, now they still can't meet in town due to no restaurants or building larger enough to hold us available.
"Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than
outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold"