Giving Compass' Take:

• Five 10-year-old boys that survived the Mendocino Complex Fires are now offering to help youth in Butte County who have also experienced trauma. 

• How can donors support young people who are still coping from the wildfire disasters? 

• Read the Giving Compass Disaster Relief and Recovery Magazine for more information on how to make an impact. 

It's a typical day at Eagle Peak Middle School. These days, one has to look closely to see any remnants of the Mendocino Complex Fires, but there are still a few reminders: an inspirational sign in the office, and less subtly, the nearby hills that still bear the burn scars of the fire that indelibly marked the landscape and the psyches of the children and adults living in Redwood Valley.

For five 10-year-old boys, members of a fire trauma group facilitated by Keenan Smith of the Mendocino County Youth Project, the immediacy of their fear and loss is lessening, and today, as their trauma has become more manageable, the boys have elected to use their experience to help youth in Butte County who are in the early stages of coping with grief and trauma.

Iliana Neito-Mora, a counselor at Eagle Peak, identified five students who would benefit from counseling. Support from the Ray Morgan Company donated funds, enabling the boys to have weekly counseling sessions with Smith for the past year during their physical education period.

“Around the one-year anniversary of our fires, I met with the boys and we discussed whether we needed to continue meeting. It was an intense day, because the sky was darkened from the Butte County Fires. Kids were lining up at the counselor’s office,” Smith explains.

“The boys decided to put together a survivor’s guide for kids who were being affected by the fires. Because of their age, they are pretty technologically inclined. Our campus supervisor suggested I contact Matt LaFever’s Journalism class at Ukiah High. With their help, we created a video which we’re going to post on social media,” Smith continues.

Read the full article about California fire survivors by Carole Brodsky at Ukiah Daily Journal