If you ask the residents of Boulder Creek what makes their town so special, the answer is always the same: It’s the people. Neighbors who give from their bountiful gardens to help one another; mom & pop shops who let locals run a tab; residents who always lend a helping hand, whether it is cooking food and plating meals for Operation Turkey or volunteering in elementary school classrooms. It’s people with a depth of heart and community spirit that keep generations of families tethered to the town, and there are some who have never lived anywhere else, and wouldn’t dream of it.
Deborah Rozman, CEO of HeartMath LLC, a nonprofit based exclusively in Boulder Creek, understands that community mentality. She’s been with the agency since 1991, and has always supported the town’s fire department. After evacuating to Santa Cruz and seeing stories on the national news about Boulder Creek Fire Department’s efforts to save the town, Rozman called Chief Mark Bingham about a fundraiser for the department—not for equipment or engines or new turnouts, but for the volunteers themselves. Bingham, exhausted and grateful, was on board.
Supported by the Boulder Creek Business Association, HeartMath’s Gabriella Boehmer set up the GoFundMe account on Monday, September 14th with a goal of $100,000, but Rozman’s not putting a limit on the town’s generosity. “The whole idea is to inspire other communities with volunteer fire departments to do something similar. These heroes,” said Rozman, “they don’t do it for the money. They do it for all of us.”
Since the fire department is a nonprofit, GoFundMe won’t take a cut of the proceeds. As of Monday, September 21st, the fund boasted nearly $30,000, including $5,000 seed money from HeartMath, with a guarantee to match funds up to $20,000.
“The most important thing to realize is that our volunteer firefighters worked 24/7 to save our homes and businesses, and they did this without pay. Their families were evacuated, some lost their homes, but they stayed and we need to open our hearts and care for them,” says Rozman. “We really hope this sets an example and goes viral in other towns. We’d love to hear other communities say, ‘Look what Boulder Creek did, we should do the same.’” Chief Bingham will distribute the funds equally to all firefighters regardless of rank and length of service with the department. “Let’s get some real dollars into the hands of our own volunteer firefighters,” Rozman implores. ”They all deserve this.”