From contentious election campaigns, to #MeToo accounts of assault and harassment, to mass shootings and destructive wildfires, it would be easy to classify 2018 as a year of anguish and turmoil. But that wouldn’t tell the whole story.
Time and again this year, Angelenos and our community of business have shown that when the worst happens, we respond by seeking to help those affected by tragedies large and small, natural and manmade.
In this spirit, we will follow Fred Rogers’ wise advice: When disaster strikes, “look for the helpers.”
The last month has been particularly painful for the Los Angeles area. On the night of Nov. 7, a gunman opened fire at Thousand Oaks’ Borderline Bar and Grill, killing 12 people, including Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, and injuring 23 others.
Blood drives set up in the shooting’s immediate aftermath were overwhelmed by the community’s response. Hundreds of people spent hours in line waiting to donate blood.
The day after the tragedy at Borderline, the Woolsey Fire broke out in Thousand Oaks and quickly spread, eventually reaching Malibu. The blaze burned nearly 97,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, killing three people and destroying 1,500 structures.
Many who lost their homes said they were soon inundated with offers of help. Members of the community mobilized to ensure those affected had access to basic necessities like food and clothing.
Many local businesses opened their doors to provide free services to both those who had lost homes and to some of the 4,000 firefighters from around California and the Western United States who converged on the area to battle the inferno.
There were others, like the Meistrell family who own Redondo Beach’s Dive N’ Surf and went above and beyond to assist people affected by the Woolsey Fire. Because the fire had shut down road access to Malibu, the Meistrells, who had been collecting donated supplies at their shop, took to the water and used their boat to ferry the donated supplies across Santa Monica Bay to displaced residents in Malibu.
It doesn’t take a disaster to inspire L.A.’s giving spirit. The Business Journal reported earlier this year that corporate philanthropy was on the rise. The area’s most active companies and corporate foundations had donated nearly $142 million to Los Angeles County charities in 2017, a 9.6 percent increase from the previous year. Some executives reported that their companies were increasing their rate of giving in 2018 as well.
Despite the doom and gloom that often dominated news cycles this year, we agree with Fred Rogers’ sentiments when he said, “I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
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