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Mission: Forging community from fire


It has since been labeled as one of the worst fires in its history, but on a summer day in 2016, the Clayton fire was spreading fast through Lower Lake, California, and heading toward Clear Lake. St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake evacuated and reopened its doors in an astonishing 64 hours—a feat that could not have been accomplished by one team alone—but an entire community of selfless people who also experienced devastation.

Rick Sanchez, the emergency management coordinator at St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake, lost his own home in this fire—and didn’t find out until three days after. But his concern was not focused on himself, but the patients and the community. “It’s always been my priority to make sure that the people are okay because all I lost was things. I didn’t lose people,” he says.

Sanchez, along with a committed team at the hospital, worked tirelessly to get the hospital reopened as quickly as possible and to help those in the community. “The whole town came together, like a family,” says Juan Borrayo, a nutritional services manager at SHCL. Local businesses donated goods, community members helped in any way they could—it was a prime example of a whole town coming together to provide help and hope when it was needed most.

Watch the video below to learn more about this powerful story of loss, resilience and strong community bonds.