Paying it forward: One man’s journey after the Bobcat Fire

By Helen Brooks, Red Cross volunteer 

There are times in your life when you come across a person who has a genuine soulfulness about them. Ronnie Gains is one such person. I spoke with Ronnie on the phone following his experience evacuating from the Bobcat Fire.  

Ronnie lives in Pearblossom, a community in the Antelope Valley with a population of just 2,435 people. After the evacuation order was announced for his communityRonnie went to Capital Schoolwhich was operating as an animal shelter. He spoke to Danika and Kyle, volunteers who went out of their way to assist Ronnie and get him into an American Red Cross shelter at the Motel 6 in Palmdale.  

Ronnie arrived at the motel around 11:30 p.m., exhausted from everything he had experienced that day. He stayed at the motel from Friday night to Monday morning with his dog, that was anxious throughout the ordeal.   

He was thankful for the roof over his head and the meals the Red Cross provided. He was especially grateful to Red Crossers Larry Curry and Kat Walsh for their work in getting him situated and taken care of. 

He returned home on the morning of Monday, Sept. 21, where he was quickly surrounded by several neighbors who also had returned to their residences. Thanks to this warm welcome, he felt comfortable and happy to be home, even as hot spot continued to smolder and smoke nearby.    

Ronnie was grateful for the assistance the Red Cross provided, and he was moved by the professionalism and caring he was shown. He not only called the local chapter to thank them, but also said he intends to join the Red Cross as a volunteer. He hopes to be able to pay it forward and look to the future, when others like him might need assistance.    

Ronnie is a person who intuitively understands the mission and goals of the Red Cross. The ordinary act of helping your fellow man becomes extraordinary after a disaster. He said he could hear the pain in the voices of those who had lost all their belongings and more tragicallywho lost loved ones.   

He sees the Red Cross as a guide for people as they begin their recovery and rebuilding efforts. He witnessed volunteers as they watch over the people in their care and sees them as a family as he starts his own recovery 

Because of this evacuation and fire, he does not see the act of volunteering as ordinary at all.  

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