The Senior Center has been distributing firewood for three years now. “We never know where the wood will be coming from - we just ask the community for donations and sometimes miracles happen,” said Rebecca Arcos, executive director of the senior center.
Last year Garberville Sanitary District donated many trees and Cathy at Randall’s Sand and Gravel delivered them. This year’s miracle came from private donors Mark and Sheryl Speer of Ettersburg. The next challenge was transporting this wood to town for processing. Ray Wilcox of G. R. Wilcox Enterprises agreed to deliver the trees from Ettersburg to Redway. Ray Wilcox, Carolyn French and Genario Gray transported 25 loads of logs to our friends at the Eel River Conservation Camp, where inmates split the wood by hand.
The idea for approaching the Cal Fire crew for help is credited to Jim Hoeffer, Healy’s board president and former Cal Fire captain. The distribution of the firewood is thanks to the coordination of battalion chief Marty Hobbs and captain Bret Murphey, and Suzanne Van Meter of Cal Fire. The program has overcome some challenges such as allowing the public access to the property. Visitors are required to sign in and adhere to the rules with the primary rule being no interaction with the inmates.
Bernice Fladen, vice president of the board of directors at the Healy Senior Center, is the firewood coordinator and also delivers firewood to seniors with her dump truck that holds two cords of wood. A voucher for a cord costs $75 or you can purchase a pickup load for $30. There is an extra cost for delivery depending on where you live and the condition of the road.
Bernice has single-handedly delivered firewood to seniors for ten years through the SWAP program, and for years she was the only person willing to make the deliveries. When she joined the board at the senior center she spearheaded our local firewood program. The senior center has distributed over 300 cords of wood in the past three winters.
”With any luck, the firewood program will continue next year. More wood is available. We just need help transporting it to the Conservation Camp” said Fladen.
Thanks to the cooperative effort of these agencies and caring community members, the firewood program has helped hundreds of seniors stay warm.
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY SUSAN GARDNER
Shown here from left to right are Healy Senior Center executive director Rebecca Arcos; Mark Speer, vice president of the Healy Senior Center’s board of directors; Bernice Fladen; Ray Wilcox of G.R. Wilcox Enterprises; and Cal Fire battalion chief, Marty Hobbs. (Not pictured: Sheryl Speer, Cal Fire’s Suzanne Van Meter and captain Bret Murphey, Genario Gray and Carolyn French of G.R. Wilcox Enterprises, and camp lieutenant Cory Gould of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.)