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The Humanist Crisis Response program of Foundation Beyond Belief is organizing a response to the Colorado wildfires, and we need your help.

Many of our members and supporters have seen the devastation firsthand or know people directly affected by the fires. Here’s Linda Vigil, a humanist mom who was volunteering at Camp Quest Oklahoma when the fires began.

“Fires usually stay on the mountains,” Linda said, “but when I heard that my neighborhood was evacuating it became much more real. The fire had actually come over the hills and down into neighborhoods in the city. I snapped out of my mundane life and petty daily concerns, and was reminded that the only thing that matters is the people I love. I spoke with my five year-old son on the phone, and he was gathering up his favorite toys from the house and talking about the fire. At that point I left camp early and drove straight home.

“Driving into Colorado Springs, I saw the city covered in smoke. The sight of black smoke billowing across the sky was frightening. The air was a hazy red, and everything smelled bad. I wasn’t thinking about my house or any “stuff”. I didn’t care if it all burned down. All I cared about was being with my son, and that he was safe. It reminded me of how precious life is, especially since I know that this is my only one. Even if I lost everything, as long as everyone I love is safe and alive, that is all that really matters to me. Luckily the fire never reached my neighborhood. I feel kind of silly even writing this because my experience cannot even come close to how terrifying it must have been for those whose neighborhoods were actually on fire. Seeing houses burning in those neighborhoods was unreal.  I’ve never seen anything like it. It was horrifying.

“Everything has been so hazy that it is hard to see the damage on the mountains, but it is shocking to see what happened in the neighborhoods; houses are practically vaporized, nothing is left.  It makes you realize how powerful fire is, how we think we are in control but nature can easily take us down.”

Every disaster event has a different profile and a unique set of needs. In Colorado, the most pressing need has not been for food, shelter, or rescue, but for immediate support of the firefighting units themselves, many of whom are seriously underfunded and understaffed. Foundation Beyond Belief has initiated a drive to support the current emergency needs of these firefighting units, as well as the extensive restoration efforts that will follow. We are currently collecting funds for the Waldo Canyon, Rist Canyon, Poudre Canyon, and Glacier View Fire Departments.

To learn more and donate to our Colorado Wildfire Fund, visit Humanist Crisis Response, or simply click DONATE in the sidebar. Thanks for your support!

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.