Dr. Bill Atwood

Do your part to support the people of Mariposa

Last week I was at Pete’s Place with Liam and Paige while they were enjoying breakfast to begin an “Uncle Bill Day.” We had adventures planned for our entire day that were filled with nothing but fun, and laughter.

Then, into Pete’s walked four men wearing the highly visible yellow coats of firefighters. People started to applaud when they quickly informed us that they were not firefighters, but news photographers from the Bay Area who were heading over to Mariposa to cover the fire.

I chatted with the AP guy and told him about Mariposa and its famous courthouse that might make for a wonderful photograph. I then had a chance to share with him along with the other three guys that the community of Mariposa is a small, tightly knit community.

I reminded the four of them that it wasn’t houses that were being threatened, but homes. That each of the 1,500 homes in danger are people’s refuge from the rest of the world and that birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgivings, anniversaries, and all sorts of other events that fill each room with the mojo that is our lives.

I reminded these young men that each business in that community, like our community, is one that employs our neighbors, families, and friends. If a fire destroyed the center of Mariposa, then many would have to move away for employment and it would take years for the town to recover.

I teach at Mariposa High School and I have taught at other Mariposa campuses during the past quarter century. I know many of the families because I know many of the children. Like many of you I found myself praying for them all to be safe from the threat of the flames.

At this time, 63 homes were destroyed, and I don’t know who has lost a home and who has been spared. I have had far too many friends over the years lose it all to the flames and they all state the same thing - “We’re safe and it’s only stuff.”

So now our friends and neighbors in Mariposa County need our help, along with our prayers. I have reminded people in this space in past columns about the need to support local businesses and that is still important as our folks here need to survive as well.

However, we can all look into our budgets and perhaps squeeze in an extra meal or two in a Mariposa restaurant. Those hourly employees lost a week’s work and those dollars don’t come back. Tips support many a waitresses’ family and they lost a week’s worth.

It will be awhile before the tourists start booking rooms that were canceled when the fire was raging. How about spending a night or two in historic Mariposa?

There will be benefits with silent auctions, raffles, spaghetti feeds, and tri-tip, and we need to buy tickets to help them out. I remember selling spaghetti dinner tickets for the victims of the Courtney fire to Mariposans.

We also need to remember the heroic efforts of our firefighters and the other emergency responders who walked into the danger during record heat, and fought to save property that doesn’t belong to them.

They came from all over the state and many from out of state. I know, they are paid for their efforts. Frankly they are not paid enough to do what they do. God Bless Them.

Remember the victims, remember the heroes, and to give God thanks that it wasn’t worse.

Remember what Smokey Bear tells us - “Only you can prevent forest fires.”