HappyDay: “The Bell Springs Volunteer Fire Department Benefit was a great success! »
Casey O’Neill is a cannabis and edibles grower in Mendocino County who has written newsletters about his efforts to provide sustainable marijuana and products. We present his column once a week.
The Bell Springs Volunteer Fire Department benefit was a big hit! It takes a whole village, and I’m so excited to be part of the community, working together to raise the necessary funds, and having a great time doing it! There is so much joy in coming together, in shared effort, and it reminds me of what I value and how I want to be in the world.
After the recent fire that broke out very close to our farm, our work to foster and maintain a volunteer fire department became even more important in my life. We started our efforts after the Lightning Complex fires in 2008, and we’ve grown a little each year, raising funds for new equipment, doing training work together, and learning to communicate and share the effort within the community.
It took a lot of hard work to bring the performance together, and the willingness of many helping hands made it a joyous experience. Many thanks to Michelle Delean for her skills as an event producer, guiding the process and pulling together the many strings for an exceptional evening of food, fun and fundraising.
We’ve always held the Benefit on the hill, but this year we ventured into Tan Oak Park, nestled in the woods just off the 101. The green grass and shady trees made it so welcoming, with a beautiful amphitheater surrounded by young redwood trees planted with the intention of fostering a circular gathering space. Huge gratitude to the community of Tan Oak for hosting us and creating such a stellar place!
Coming down the hill made more room for gatherings, with necessary amenities that allowed for greater exposure of attendees. I was thrilled to see how many people came out in support and loved the music lineup. Gratitude to all the musicians who took the time to play for us, making happy noises and building on the general brevity of the evening, and to everyone who came out to support us!
So many people participated in preparing the food, from tamales and taco plates with all the fixins to a dessert table complete with treats for sale by donation. Many thanks to everyone for working so hard to make a great meal for everyone, and for the tasty libations which were much appreciated. We’ve always been a potluck style community and it brings me great joy to see all the good things people show up with.
The fire department raffle is one of the highlights of my year and has become a tradition in my life. Community members and businesses donate prizes and our firefighters cut a cord of wood each year as one of the grand prizes. Over time, the list of raffle prizes has grown and I have the chance to play the role of master of ceremonies for the raffle draw. I’ve always enjoyed the theater of public speaking and being in front of people, and I enjoy pulling names out of the hat for giveaways, emphasizing the joys of community, and joking through the drawing.
The final tally isn’t out yet, but I’m sure we raised a big chunk of the funds and all had a great time. One of the things I love about the small town feeling is that so many gatherings are held for a purpose, usually to raise money for local nonprofits.
As a stark reminder of our reasons for being a volunteer fire department, I woke up this morning to the thick smoke that blew through the night. As I completed my morning chores, I felt the air dragging inside me, the low oxygen levels slowing my steps and adding a layer of work fatigue. I tell myself to take it slow, not to overdo it. Later, when I feel the late afternoon fatigue, I will remind myself that it comes with the smoke and try to be more patient with myself and everyone around me.
Summer is a time of great joy and great difficulty. The intense effort makes the results all the sweeter, like the first melons on the vine. I count my blessings and remember the things I’m grateful for as an antidote to burnout and fatigue. The work continues hand in hand with joy. As always, much love and much success to you on your journey!