Embodying the BSM Way: Our Trip to Paradise
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 9:00 AM
One of the blessings of working for BSM Consulting is having an office headquartered in Incline Village, Nev. — a small mountain town nestled within the pines of the Sierra Nevada forest. While the staff here is certainly grateful to live in such a beautiful setting, as residents of the Lake Tahoe basin, we are also well aware that the threat of a forest fire is ever-present.
Naturally, when the BSM team heard about the “Camp Fire” — which has proven to be the deadliest, most destructive wildfire in California’s history — we knew it was our duty to help those who lost their homes just before the holiday season. With the blessing of our founder, Bruce Maller, and the efforts of two all-star employees (and an unstoppable mother-daughter duo), BSM was able to rise to the occasion. Read about Anne Blamire and Christina Blamire-Harter’s first-hand experience distributing supplies below.
Christina: After hearing about the fire, I knew the BSM team was in a position to help. So, I began my efforts by contacting a family friend to learn about the organizations aiding the Camp Fire victims and to ask what supplies were needed. I then composed a company-wide email to inform all BSM employees that my mother, Anne, and I were planning to make a trip to distribute whatever was collected/donated within the company. In the email, I detailed the items that were needed in addition to requesting monetary donations from anyone who was willing and able to contribute.
Anne: Needless to say, we were blown away by the response. The total donations from the team amounted to $12,500! This included monetary and physical items, along with a generous amount matched by BSM. With the funds, we purchased $3,500 in gift cards, water bottles, first aid kits, smoke masks, blankets, sleeping bags, baby supplies, clothing, toiletries, backpacks, duffle bags, batteries, food, pet supplies, and many other miscellaneous items.
Christina: On Friday, Nov. 16th, my husband Bryan, my mom, and I packed up our two Ford Explorers and traveled the 3-hour drive to Paradise, Calif. We began our mission at Chico Eye, which is one of our consultants, Maureen Waddle’s, clients. The practice manager met with us for a few minutes and shared how nine of the practice's staff members had lost their homes. He was extremely grateful for our contributions, and also gave us some pointers for distributing the rest of our “bounty.”
Anne: Our next stop was the Bidwell Presbyterian Church, where we connected with Denise, a friend of Bryan’s mother. She took us into the church office, where the staff gratefully accepted our donation of 25 gift cards to distribute to needy families. Denise then shared with us that the shelters have had outbreaks of the norovirus, and suggested we go to the Salvation Army’s collection/distribution center to donate our physical items, as it had become one of the main resource centers for fire victims.
Once there, we learned that they were distributing items by allowing the evacuees to “shop” the donations, taking the items they need. As Bryan was unloading the blankets from our cars, the Salvation Army volunteers immediately asked him to set them out on the tables, where they were quickly snatched up! Christina and I also invited people to come “shop” in our cars, during which time we met a group of three moms with multiple children who still had many needs that had not been met. The excitement on their faces when we gave them all coats, blankets, shoes, clothes, etc. was so gratifying!
Christina: One special moment was when I gave one of the girls, who couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, a little stuffed dog. The way she hugged and loved on it, from the moment it was in her arms, was truly heartwarming, as her mom had just mentioned that she had been searching for a baby doll since they lost their home.
Our next two stops were at hotels, where we contributed $1,000 at each location for guests whose stay was not covered by insurance, along with some boxes full of supplies. At the second hotel, there was a woman desperately looking for somewhere to stay — she, along with her disabled daughter and 90-year-old father, had lost their home and appeared very distraught. Though we couldn’t provide her with a place to stay, we were able to give her some gift cards, for which she was very thankful and truly amazed!
Anne: As BSM is full of animal lovers, we wanted to make a stop at one of the veterinarian hospitals/shelters. The fire was so fast-moving that many evacuees were forced to leave their beloved animals behind; I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that must have been. Erickson Veterinary Hospital had taken in many of these stranded animals, most of which needed medical attention. I had spoken with the hospital earlier in the week and knew they needed towels for all the animal’s cages, which we were happy to provide — along with some dog treats, of course!
Since there were a few more items in the car, we made one more trip out to the distribution center. As we were unloading our last items, it was extremely heartening to see multiple trucks from large corporations like Raley’s, Safeway, Target, and other stores loaded with goods to donate.
Christina: Just as we were leaving to head home, we saw a family with three small children who looked as though they had all of their worldly possessions packed in their car. Bryan asked if they had lost their home — which they had — and gave them some gift cards. As with all the others, they were extremely grateful — the mother cried while the dad got out of the car to shake Bryan’s hand. It was the perfect ending to an extremely rewarding and humbling experience.
Anne: Christina, Bryan, and I may have been the ones physically handing out the donations, however, we could not have done so without the support of our extraordinary co-workers and the backing of our founder, Bruce. Watching people change from shell-shocked and desolate to hopeful and grateful was indescribable. In addition to all of the items donated, BSM was able to make a charitable contribution to two outstanding agencies — the California Firefighter’s Benevolent Fund ($1,250) and the North Valley Community Foundation ($1,000).
For many of these victims, knowing that others sincerely care added a little ray of sunshine into their unbelievably challenging and sad circumstances. While it was truly a blessing to have impacted the lives of so many, as reports of the fire’s devastation continue to roll in, we can’t help but wish we could do more. Regardless, we take solace knowing we were able to play a small role and bring joy to those we encountered. Being able to represent BSM in such a charitable and caring way was an honor. All of us are fortunate to work for such a loving and giving company!