It’s hard to believe it has only been a little over a month since the Thomas Fire broke out in Ventura County. While the initial shock has worn off, Ventura residents are confronted with new areas of loss every day. The Ventura community has responded in a mighty way by providing shelter, food, water, clothes and clean up help. Here is an update on how ENCOUNTER has been serving the community during this time.
During the weekend worship services following the outbreak of the fire, Pastor Daniel and Worship Pastor Ryan led us through a time of worship, prayer and reflection. During this service we held a special offering for Thomas Fire relief and thousands of dollars have been given by our generous ENCOUNTER family.
Some of the funds were used to provide gift cards to those in our church family who lost their homes or were displaced for a long time. While we continue to provide support and encouragement to these families, we are also focused on the needs of the community.
We are part of the Ventura Community Support Team, a group made up of leaders from churches and organizations in Ventura County. One channel where needs are assessed is through Ventura Unified School District. Churches and organizations have been matched with schools in the community to address needs both big and small.
ENCOUNTER has been matched with families who have children in EP Foster Elementary, DeAnza Middle School and Ventura High School. We have learned that while many families did not lose their homes, they are suffering tremendous financial strain due to lost work when businesses were closed and damage to their homes from smoke and ash.
We invited several of these families to come to the church on Christmas Eve so we could give them gift cards to buy gifts for their families. Since that time, more needs have unfolded and our church has been able to respond by assisting families who could not pay their rent, utilities or phone bills. We have referred families to counseling services in the community and offered scholarships when needed. We have connected over a dozen families to long-term rental homes while they wait for their homes to be rebuilt or become habitable again.
The needs of the community will continue as we discover the full impact of the Thomas Fire. ENCOUNTER is committed to the long term support of our community as Ventura rebuilds and heals.
For fire recovery info, visit Thomas Fire Resources.