Tag Archives: American Red Cross

A Moment of Reflection

The other day, I went out for a walk after staying home for a good week straight. Upper Great Highway by the Ocean Beach Trail was (and still is) closed to traffic. The skies were a bit gloomy, the air was cold and the waves were hushed. I just stood there in the middle of the road for a moment.

As I’m asthmatic, I’m at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than most. My last major asthma attack was on the night of January 31st. I got tested for the flu and pneumonia, which consisted of an x-ray and a horrid nasal swap. None of which was comfortable, all of which came back negative. I had to go to Urgent Care about a week or so later as my allergy symptoms didn’t elevate since. This took place before I realized that COVID-19 was spreading, fast.

San Francisco and most of the Bay Area have sheltered in place since March 15th but most of my family and co-workers sheltered in place prior to that as a precaution. Life has been different, interesting, amusing, and frustrating. I’ve had to adjust, adapt, postpone and reevaluate my priorities. I’m no parent but I’ve had to help step in and home school my first-grade nephew. It reminded me of why I never continued on the career paths of being a teacher or pediatrician but grateful a million folds for those that are.

As I stood there facing the gloomy skies above the sea, I kept thinking despite it all, this was a reminder of our blessings. We live in a friendly, family-oriented, and supportive community. I’ve been in better touch with family and friends than ever before, just checking in on each other and making sure everyone is OK. I’ve seen neighbors and community members on my walks and even under masks and six feet apart, we see the smiles.

Where our national leadership has failed, our community leaders have risen up to take charge. Our healthcare workers and first responders the world over have been working tirelessly to care for us, even when they themselves need to be cared for. Our grocery stores are stocked, our restaurants are delivering, and even my tiny desk for work was shipped sooner than expected.

The people behind all that goodness remind me of our blessings, much of which we take for granted. They give me hope that we will get through this uncertainty with a bit more faith, gratitude and empathy. The absolute humility that has come out of this pandemic have truly restored my faith in humanity.

And as I stood there in the middle of the road, I saw a small ray of light through the gloomy skies. Seeing it as a good omen, I took out my phone to capture this moment.

I am a firm believer that when God puts us to it, God will pull us through it. So have faith that this too shall pass. Please, if possible, consider volunteering or donating to causes out there supporting our communities, front line and essential angels. Check on your family, friends and neighbors regularly when possible. If you need someone to talk too, know that I’m but a message away. And please, I urge you all to continue to stay home and stay healthy. We will get through this, together!

How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires

The wildfires in my home state of California has been devastating. The Camp Fire in Butte County has claimed over 40 lives, burned over 110,000 acres and only 30% contained as of writing. This fire has been so far the worst in California history. A second fire in Southern California’s Ventura County deemed the Woolsey Fire is fast spreading. CAL FIRE reports as of this writing that the fire has spread across over 91,500 acres and only 20% contained. There have been five injuries, three of which are firefighters and I’m praying there will not be reporting of causalities.

Being almost 200 miles away from Butte County, the billowing smoke has affected the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve used my rescue inhaler over twice a day since the fires began. I’ve stayed indoors as much as possible over the weekend, dunned a face mask when one was available to me but I keep thinking, how are the people in the heart of this disaster even coping?

The first responders have put their own lives on the line helping people evacuate and attempting to put out this fire. Many of them are from Butte County and have family forced to evacuate and lost their own homes in the fire.

So how can we help our fellow Californians in their times of need? Below are a few organizations I’m aware of that are on the grounds. Your donations in the form of finances and time would be greatly appreciated.

Source: AP/Noah Berger via Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires in both northern and southern California. The California Community Foundation has a Wildfire Relief Fund currently supporting recovery and preparedness. Benevity is supporting the American Red Cross’ efforts on the ground.

According to the Sacramento Bee, shelters have been receiving “generous but useless donations”. Meaning, kindly check what is needed before donating your entire stash of hygiene products. If you can’t donate things like underwear or backpacks, the best thing to do is to donate a gift card from say Target. Your time is also highly appreciated but please inquire ahead, your safety and that of others come first.

I’ll update this post with any additional information I come across on how we can continue to help those affected throughout California. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post them in the comments below.

For help, support or information for Butte County, please go buttecounty.net or call 211.

UPDATE – 14 November: ABC7 News Bay Area is teaming up with Vitalant for a blood drive. The North Valley Community Foundation is collection corporate gifts and in-kind donations. To volunteer, head to Caring Choices for more information.

Captured November 21st at 7am on Judah Street

UPDATE – 16 November: GoFundMe has created a central page with verified campaigns to help the victims. The same has been done by Charity Navigator, listing all verified organizations on the grounds in both Northern and Southern California. The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to the firefighters and the fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to showcase our support and appreciation to the amazing firefighters and first responders.

For details on the current air quality in the Bay Area, go to airnow.gov and enter the zip code of your area. As of this writing, it’s lingering at 233 here in San Francisco which is “very unhealthy”. According to KTVU, we are experiencing the worst air quality in the world. I took this picture this morning of the smoke looming above the Sunset district. Due to the air quality, most schools and universities are not open today or the rest of the week.

UPDATE – November 21: I’m sure there are many small businesses supporting the victims of the California wildfires. One of them is San Francisco’s QSpa, located on both Steiner and Divisidaro, off the Haight. Right now, QSpa is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of their $25 in-house cuticle oil to those affected in Butte County. For $15, you can bring back your empty bottle for a refill.

Final Update – December 1: The Camp Fire may be fully out but there is still much to do to help our friends get their lives back to some form of normalcy and rebuild the many towns affected. I want to be able to continue to showcase my support in any way possible. Therefore, all season long, I’ll be donating some of the proceeds from Ms. Hala’s Boutique to the Islamic Relief USA  and the  California Fire Foundation, two of many amazing organizations helping our friends across the state. Please continue to share this post and add on it to with any additional information in the comments below.