Ever since the Thomas Fire, I have been deeply moved not only by the financial support our small California boarding school has recieved through our relief fund, but how many of you continue to call and email simply to check in and see how we are doing and to let us know how much you care. With so much to do, in a short perios of time, it was important to stay inspired and mindful of the impact this place has had, and continues to have, on so many people around the world.
Though our lower dorm has not been used for student housing for several years, it has been great to hear a few stories from our students who lived there during their Besant Hill and Happy Valley School days. From the quiet morning walks to making jam in the Ranch House kitchen, it’s clear that those memories are cherished. It’s hard to believe those places where our faculty called home and where former students spent their formative years are gone. But again, I am so grateful we were able to open the school on schedule in the new year to begin making memories again! Whether in person, or through a phone call, social media, or via HVS/BHS Connect, I hope our alumni, friends, and families will continue to share what this school means to you. Here are a just few of the many comments we’ve recently received:
“Thank you for keeping us updated. I graduated in ’96 and that place means so much to me. Reading your account, I can’t help but think about everything you described in terms of my own time there and the people that were there. My heart goes out to you and everyone there. You have decades of community to lean on. Just let us know, and we’ll be there.” – Jason Schneider ’96
“Thanks for sharing. Sounds like my old house along with the entire lower campus got hit! Hard to believe! HVS is an amazing place and will always be considered home.” – Helmet Krull ’88
“In the several years I went to school there, I have fond memories of living in the lower dorms by the barn for a couple of years…sad to hear they are gone…” – Jeffrey Gillman ’76
“My heart goes out to our beautiful Ojai!” – Pam Murdock ’58
How Relief Donations have Helped:
Our first priority was to make quick efforts to be sure that our colleagues who lost their houses had a new place to live.
- Payroll & Monetary Assistance
While faculty and staff were unable to work for numerous days during and after the fire, they were paid their full salary during the absence. Additionally, all employees received a one-time Fire Loss Compensation Payment in their December paycheck, as almost all were displaced from Ojai, causing an unanticipated and significant personal expense. Those who lost their entire homes and belongings received fire loss compensation at a higher level and are being provided with off-campus housing.
- Cleaning Campus Grounds & Buildings
Our campus buildings were thoroughly cleaned through the use of industrial-size HEPA air scrubbers (running around the clock for the past two weeks), HEPA vacuuming, cleaning air ducts and HVAC systems, and cleaning of all surfaces and objects in every room. Products used for cleaning were all plant-based (food grade), non-toxic, and biodegradable. The campus and surrounding land had to be cleared of debris and ash, including removing damaged trees to ensure a safe and clean campus. The campus also sustained significant wind damage, and we replaced many windows, lights, and signage.
- Temporary Maintenance Building & Storage
A temporary maintenance building has been brought in for our hard working maintenance staff, and necessary tools are being rented or purchased as needed.
The above highlights just some of what has been taking place on campus during this time. With all of the progress we have made in recent years, I am determined that we will not be set back by this event.
Wishing you a safe and happy New Year!