Fire Victims Grateful for “Living Wage”

Bonnie Bishop, a single mom, wakes early to get to the job site near Middletown. She works in the blazing sun to cut up and remove burned trees destroyed by the Valley Fire. It’s hard, hot, dirty work but she’s grateful for it beyond measure…because finally things are looking up.

“This job means I can get back on my feet, get my kid back in school, begin to rebuild our lives. We’ve been a year without a home,” she says.

Bonnie’s story is like so many with homes and jobs lost as fire raged through region last summer. The unemployment rate, already high in Lake County, skyrocketed. And with hundreds of structures burned, rents followed suit. Living in cars, living in tents, couch surfing all became common, especially for those already living on the edge of poverty.

“Almost every day I hear from one of our clients that these jobs are coming ‘just in the nick’ of time,” says Debra Walker, case manager with California Human Development.  “Not only are folks finally earning a paycheck, which they desperately need, but they’re learning new skills to make them more employable in the future,” she adds.

With grant funding from the Department of Labor’s National Dislocated Worker Program, California Human Development is placing 350 of Lake County’s fire victims in temporary jobs. Individuals looking for work, as well as agencies and organizations with jobs available, are encouraged to contact the CHD field office in Lakeport at 707.262.0440 or send an email to






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