By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
After the catastrophic Black Forest fire in June this year, citizens from a ravished community have formed Black Forest Together to help with recovery.
The independent non-profit corporation has a mission to “help the people to recover, rebuild and restore their lives while enhancing a full sense of community and the richness of our natural environment today and in the future for Black Forest.”
Black Forest Together emphasizes they are not there to duplicate disaster relief organization efforts, but to help direct those in need to the correct organizations and lend a helping hand when needed. Requests for financial support are coordinated through a case management process conducted by the Lutheran Family Services Disaster Response Program.
“We do fundraise, but we are run by all volunteers,” said Maj. Monica Bailey, BFT chief communications officer and board member currently assigned to Peterson Air Force Base. “Volunteers are our heart and soul.”
Currently, BFT needs volunteers for clean-up, replanting, volunteer coordination, resource center manning and website maintenance. As the effort continues and needs are voiced, more opportunities will arise for those looking to lend a hand during the Black Forest’s time of need.
“Many of those living in Black Forest are elderly and can become overwhelmed,” said Bailey. “Having a young Airman come help them type information into a computer for insurance claims or even to move large objects on their property is highly appreciated.”
For others, help is needed caring for displaced animals, rebuilding fences, and sifting through ashes.
“It’s been some time since the fires, but for some it took longer to be emotionally ready to go back out,” said Bailey. “For those living in Black Forest many did not just lose a home, but a way of life.”
Even those more technologically inclined can lend a helping hand by working to maintain the Facebook and web page for BFT.
A Forest Recovery Symposium is slated for Dec. 7 from 10 to 12 p.m. at Edith Wolford Elementary School aimed at developing recovery solutions. Subject matter experts, contractors and foresters will be available for questions, as well as an open forum for those who have ideas to offer concerning recovery efforts.
“Community involvement is a way for Schriever members to remind the local communities of the unique missions that are performed here and show how much we value their support and understanding,” said James Hodges, 50th Space Wing chief of community outreach.
For more information on how to get involved with BFT, contact Hodges at 567-2145.