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Our work in Paradise continued this week with the same leadership volunteers: Dave and Patti Hughes as Project Director and Office Manager, Leon Martin as Construction Supervisor and his wife, Marlene as Cook.  Alice Wolfgang was our second cook and the crew leaders were John Stutzman and Lauren King.  We were joined by Gabriela Castro who is a long term volunteer who will be staying for five weeks.

Our weekly volunteers had difficulty in reaching Northern California from Wisconsin this week due to extreme weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  After waiting two days for the interstate to open, the two men and ten women decided to take a more southern route and arrived Tuesday evening. They were very excited for the opportunity to come work with MDS and brought a lot of joy to the project.  If laughter is good medicine, we should all be very healthy.

The two crew leaders and Gabriela went to the job sites on Monday and Tuesday, doing a little bit of painting, staining the porch posts, and cleaning up at Robert Ream’s house. Then they did some touch-up work, cleaning, and putting down floor protection at the Moreno house in preparation for dedication. At the Reyes’ house on Merrill Road, the three got started on the roofing, so when the full volunteer team was here the rest of the week things really took off. The remainder of the week was focused on the Merrill Road property. By the end of the week, the roof with numerous vents was completed.  Cement covering was applied to the stem wall, and all the windows and exterior doors were in. Siding will begin next week.

We were pleased to meet some of our clients this week.  Gloria and Jeremiah Reyes came to enjoy the evening meal with us on Wednesday and told of their experience during the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise.  They had only lived here a short time and did not understand what “high fire danger” meant.  They described how the sky got dark that morning and the sound of exploding propane tanks seemed like thunder.  When they decided to evacuate, they grabbed pillows, blankets, her knitting, and some bananas, got in the car together, and got stuck in traffic.  They sat in the Walmart parking lot with other evacuees and watched their town burn.  Gloria says she has a different outlook now, and that possessions are nothing. As another resident told her: “They can’t take my smile!”

To top off the week, we had dedications for two completed homes on Friday.  First was the Dechter house on Scottwood Road.  Lorraine Dechter, her son, and her mother were present.  Many of our partner organizations were represented.  Case managers and friends of the family who had stood by them through the past four years were there to enjoy the occasion.  We had all of our MDS volunteers participate in the program and were especially blessed to have such wonderful singers among us to sing Home Sweet Home in lovely harmony. We also dedicated the home built for Lori Moreno who has passed away.  We thought it appropriate to bless the home for whoever will eventually live there on Newland Road.

The Paradise MDS Team

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