(See updates below!)
On Monday evening a fire started at St Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. In two hours it swept the approx 12 miles into Ventura. Embers blasting towards the coast on Santa Ana winds gusting at 80 MPH, initiated a conflagration which was dubbed the Thomas Fire, at 9PM on December 4th, 2017.
We watched Grant Park (above City Hall) burn from our house, which is located in the hills above Ventura’s West side, and in short order, experienced the fire storm down the hill at our neighborhood. With our lives packed into our cars, we became some of the first refugees of the fire.
Before long this happened. The street Betty Belts retail store is on began to burn. It looked as if we had lost all of our material possessions.
Team Betty and veteran First Responder Shawn Alladio learned that my husband planned for us to evacuate to Morro Bay and she booked (and paid for) a hotel there for us, and contacted the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol. By Tuesday afternoon we were safely in the arms of our friends there, who took care of every need. Their foresight and generosity humbled and enlightened us. They knew what this disaster meant. So did my husband.
We bore down doing fire and business logistics from our La Sirena Hotel room. The Hotel we found out, had cut their rate in half (that said a lot) and let us bring our two feline evacuees, Ninja and Samurai. On Wednesday we learned that our home had somehow survived, and so did Betty Belts!
Chelsea, who works the retail weekdays, dug in her heels and fought to keep our business on Fir running by organizing the myriad things needed to get orders out to our online customers while we were forced to close due to the power outage and poor air quality. She did this under her own motivation. Were it not for hers and our combined efforts, we would have lost the ability to service the needs of our customers and Betty Tribe during the Christmas season.
Here is David’s son, my stepson, Jonathan, who has a business (Pu’u Muay Thai) on Main St that had also been threatened and closed (due to the dangerous smoky conditions). He’s standing on front of our house letting us know it’s still standing! His gym was front row center as some of the nicest hillside homes burned to the ground. Our respective family businesses share many of the same clientele, several of which lost their homes.
The devastation of this burn is ongoing. Many lives are shattered. Businesses and homes horribly impacted.
My employees and I have been putting together Betty Care packages, and giving them out to several of those who lost everything, just so that they will have something beautiful and nice to hold on to, as they work through the sorrow associated with this disaster. The need is very high. We are a small company, but this is our community. These are our people, and we will do whatever we can to help.
This sign says a lot. It is on the California Street exit as everyone gets off the freeway to come Downtown.
Aside from that and on the advice of our disaster response experts, we are picking one person and business to throw maximum effort into. That person is Dan Glassman. Believe it or not, he is a window washer. He is OUR window washer and friend, and yes, that is really his name: Glassman.
As a self employed small businessman, he has suffered a horrible blow with both his rental home and his business storage burned to the ground. He lost everything. He has no back up or insurance for this loss. We are going to need Dan Glassman and his company here in Ventura, as ash fall is going to be active for a very long time. Businesses and homes need to be opened, patronized, rebuilt, etc…
So we are throwing in on the effort to raise money for this man and his company and get him “back in the game” as it were. This Friday, we will do a Cause Day Sale and 20% of all our sales both online and in store will go directly to Dan. Shop online here at www.bettybelts.com. Or visit the the retail store is at 12 North Fir Street, Ventura, Ca. Or donate directly (links below)!
We believe in Dan Glassman, and hope that you do as well.
You can contact his business here:
Contributions can be made directly here:
VENMO: Dan Glassman@venturawaterpoloclubmasters
GoFundMe (takes 8%): https://www.gofundme.com/
This will just be the first step in what we and others are doing to help our community, because really, just as the Thomas Fire generated an “all assets” call out, the largest in History for a wildfire in California, this regeneration and restoration of our town is only going to be good and effective, if all of us pitch in and do something, in a smart and compassionate manner. So we are asking all of our community to do that.
After we complete this step, we will take the next, and the next. We invite you to come alongside to help, as we rebuild-strengthen our community and fix our broken town.
Update Dec. 21st, 2017:
- We raised over $1400 for Dan on our Cause Day.
- He has acquired some equipment and is back at work washing windows.
- He has not found an affordable rental yet. Please spread the word.
- He is humbly grateful for all the donations that have come in.
- We have a donation jar at the shop for Dan and are accepting any donations for Dan.
- You can also donate directly at the links above.
Update Jan. 3rd, 2018:
- An additional $270 has been raised for Dan in our tip jar at the shop thank you to everyone who has put something inside!
- He has acquired more equipment and is back to work, building his business back up again with some key bids and plans to hire new employees.
- He found a rental off the Avenue! It’s more expensive than what he had, but he’s feeling optimistic about a future there.
- He still needs to build a household with furniture, kitchen things and some fun things like camping and sports equipment to enjoy the California lifestyle we all cherish. Please contact him directly if you have something for him.
- You can still donate directly at the links above.
Update Jan 23rd, 2018:
- Dan just moved into his new home, a small rental off the Avenue and is slowly furnishing it with the things he needs to get back to normal life.
- He has booked several jobs and is now fully booked and has hired two new employees to help him clean Ventura’s windows.
- We have handed out more than 46 of our Betty Care packages to date
Thank you to all who helped us make a huge difference in one person’s life. Helping rebuild a life is a beautiful thing.