Trisha Butcher is the one who started the Firefighter Support Rally that took place Saturday (8-27-16) morning at Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles. At one point there were a bit over 4,000 firefighting personnel here in our area fighting the Chimney Fire. They came from near and far to do their job and help keep property and people safe.
Just as so many of us were in awe of the manpower (and of course, womanpower) that showed up to battle this beast, Trisha was too. But she was driven to do something. To show support and rally the community to come out and say thank you. I was blown away at how many people showed up and I was more blown away seeing how many firefighting vehicles drove by on their way out to the fire as well as how many were returning from the fire for much needed down time.
It all made me want to reach out to Trisha and learn about more about it all. You can check out a short Q&A with her below. Lastly, I want to thank her for getting the rally going. We need more people like that in every community.
You can see my blog post on the support rally, here.
Matt: How long have you been in Paso Robles?
Trisha: We moved here in 1980
Matt: If not originally from Paso, where are you from?
Trisha: Solvang, California
Matt: What do you do by day?
Trisha: Central Coast Casualty Restoration during the week and Owner/Photographer of Pixies Photos on the weekends.
Matt: Have you been involved in the community for long? If so, what kind of things have you done?
Trisha: I always try to participate in community events. I think sometimes it just takes finding your passion and stepping into it. I am outgoing but can be timid sometimes, so stepping outside of my comfort zone usually comes easier if it involves events that make a difference in someone’s life. I like networking and marketing but the majority of the time I would rather be creating something magical, if even for a moment, for someone else.
When the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred, I planned a candlelight vigil in the downtown park. I did not have the resources to do it, but I knew if I reached out to others, we could make it happen. We had businesses donating candles and poster boards for participants to sign so we could send them to the school. Hundreds of people gathered to share in their sympathy.
Every year since then, I take my son out to Pay It Forward with Random Acts of Kindness. From a dollar left on vending machine, to gloves for the homeless, to buying someone’s coffee, or taking a flower to a police officer, it is such a small act that can literally change the path of someone’s day. It’s a good thing to instill in our youth to carry onto the next generation.
I also helped organize the benefit for Lilly Bumpus who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma a few years ago. I didn’t know her parents, but I knew they were overwhelmed with hospital bills. We were able to raise over $10,000 for them at the auction. It was an outstanding community effort.
Matt: What made you want to create that Firefighter Support Rally?
Trisha: We were out on the lake on Day 2 of the fire taking pictures and things just really shifted around 2pm. I knew what I was watching from the water was one of the most frightening experiences I have ever had. The fire exploded and houses were burning and there was nothing we could do to help. The lake was suddenly inundated with helicopters and planes and fire personnel by the hundreds and then thousands. It looked like a war zone.
They were all working so feverishly to stop it from taking more homes. For hours upon hours, and then turning into days upon days. I drove past the fairgrounds everyday on my way to and from work and seeing them set up tents to sleep on the ground, waiting in feed lines, missing their families, covered in soot and ash and exhausted and ready to collapse for the night to get up and do it all over again. I just felt like we had to do something, anything to say Thank You! Thank you for being here. Thank you for saving our community.
Matt: What were your expectations for the rally? How many people did you think would come?
Trisha: When I first created the rally, I thought it would be so amazing if we got about 20-30 people together to make some homemade signs and wave our flags and show some compassion for all these men and women risking their lives to save ours. I wanted to help put a smile on their face and a warm feeling in their heart. And oh my gosh, does our community know how to respond. People were writing and asking how they could help, how they could participate. Sharing the event with their friends, who shared it to their families, and so on. The local news stations were picking it up and running it, the radio stations were getting behind it, it was absolutely beautiful.
Matt: Do you have any way of knowing how many actually came?
Trisha: There were 300 RSVP’s on the event page and a few hundred more interested in coming. From what I was able to see on that morning, the participants were lined from the top of the bridge by the fairgrounds to the end of the football field at Flamson. I am going to guess lightly at around 600-700.
Matt: What is your favorite thing about living in Paso Robles?
Trisha: It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. And I can honestly say that living in a small town has a sense of community that cannot be found in a big city. I know all my neighbors and run into friends or acquaintances at every trip to the grocery store. We have the best back roads for a weekend cruise, hidden treasures on almost every corner, and the best tractor parade in the world. And bottom line, when tragedy strikes our town, we come together.
Matt: What would you like to see change for the better?
Trisha: Less attitude and more gratitude. Compassion seems to be a lost art anymore and we are constantly surrounded by negativity and stress. Something happens inside of you when you give back. You soften but with a purpose.
Matt: If you could give one piece of advice or motivation to someone about getting involved in the community, what would that be?
Trisha: Never lose focus of what makes life good. The material things, are just that. A genuine smile or a hearty laugh or a show of support can carry people to the moon and back. Your community is what you help make it so get involved and be a part of the outcome.
Matt: So what’s next for you (with the firefighters or something else)?
Trisha: Something, always something. A new spark will happen and set into motion and I will be off and running, I’m sure.