Church Recognized for Service in Black Forest Fire

Contributed By Peggy Kinnaird, Church News contributor

  • 17 July 2014

El Paso County commissioner Amy Lathen presents a certificate of appreciation for dedicated service during the recovery efforts of the Black Forest Fire on its one-year anniversary to Matt Clawson, regional public affairs director for the Church in Colorado Springs.  Photo courtesy of Peggy Kinnaird.

Article Highlights

  • The Church received a certificate of appreciation for dedicated service in the Black Forest Fire in Colorado.
  • The volunteer efforts provided by the Church included a four-day clothing drive that was organized just days after the fire broke out.
  • Missionaries helped by packing up members’ homes in the evacuation process.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was one of 46 agencies and organizations honored and recognized with a certificate of appreciation for dedicated service at a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the Black Forest Fire in Colorado in June 2013. Other groups included the Red Cross, Care and Share, New Life Church, and Mountain Springs Church.

County commissioner Darryl Glenn, who oversees the Black Forest region, said it was a very successful and significant event that was well attended. Approximately 1,000 community members enjoyed live music, free ice cream, and tours showing the mitigation and recovery efforts around the Black Forest Regional Park.

“This is a one-year celebration to reconnect and bring everybody together after a tough year,” said Mr. Glenn. “We wanted to recognize all of the hard work that has gone on in the rebuilding effort [and] to showcase all of the volunteer organizations.”

Each organization contributed in its own capacity over the past year through efforts such as food, money, and clothing donations as well as counseling for victims and ongoing deforestation and mitigation.

The volunteer efforts provided by the Church included a four-day clothing drive that was organized by Kate Ashby of the Colorado Springs North Stake just days after the fire broke out. Thousands of items were collected in a matter of hours, including shoes, bedding, purses, underclothing, diapers, and wipes. Sister Ashby said the “organized opportunity” was a success because “it was a way for people to give immediately to those they knew were suffering.”

Missionaries helped by packing up members’ homes in the evacuation process. Overall, 38,000 citizens were evacuated from the Black Forest area and eight members’ homes were destroyed. Missionaries also participated in the clearing of debris. Several were given a weekly assignment to work in the Black Forest slash-mulch pit, a recycling facility cosponsored by the El Paso County Environmental Division. It has been operating for years, turning fallen trees and branches into free mulch made available to the community for use in landscaping projects.

Colorado Springs North Stake President Kevin Woodward said it was very kind of the county to recognize the Church and its part in the recovery efforts.

“We were just very happy to participate in the recovery efforts in the community that we love,” he said. “We look forward [in continuing] to do so in the future.”