#VenturaStrong: Grateful for COMMUNITY(ies)

Y'all. My gratitude jar is so full. If you don't know, which I'm sure you do by now, my hometown of Ventura was devastated by The Thomas Fire in Southern California. Over 400 homes have been burned down. 100 of those homes are in the neighborhood I spent 18 years of my life living in, and where I go home to be with my parents.  My childhood friend's homes, their family's homes, my neighbor's homes, gone. 

 My neighborhood before fire.

My neighborhood before fire.

My family got extremely lucky. The fire took over our backyard. The front door was broken into for firefighters to get through and into the backyard. The firefighters are true heroes, they saved my parent's home, the home they raised me and my brothers in. I have never felt so grateful in my life. However, with my house standing and seeing hundreds others charred into nothing, it's hard to be happy. It doesn't feel like we "won" in this situation. We are watching our community suffer and be in pain. A lot of pain. And it's not a good feeling. I like to think of myself as not much of an emotional person, but I can't stop crying. I can't stop crying for friends, friend's families, friend's of friends, pets, wild animals, my community. I hurt a lot too.

 My neighborhood after fire.

My neighborhood after fire.

Community: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

I have been blessed to live in Ventura, CA, Chico, CA, Newport Beach, CA, London, UK, and now in Austin, TX. That is 5 different communities I have been apart of. I have had people reach out to check on me and donate money from all 5 of these communities. That is incredible. I am working closely with Ventura friends on donating supplies, gift cards, Go Fund Me accounts, etc. I have received payments from college friends who I haven't spoken to in years. Along with friends I met in Newport. I have friends reaching out who don't have sufficient funds are still sending me money. And my friends from London are constantly reaching out and checking in on me. And Austin. Oh, ATX. I have been moved to tears with the support I am getting from my Fit Austin community. So many members and people who take my class have reached out and donated what they can. I have just been completely moved.

In 7 days, my COMMUNITIES helped me raise $1,760. (and counting!!)

TO EVERYONE that has helped me with this, I do not even know the correct words to express my gratitude. I want to say so much more than thank you. I want to give you so much more than a hug. So many of you barely know me, yet you have it in your heart to help with what is near and dear to mine. My heart gets fuller and fuller anytime one of you helps. When I see people step up in Ventura, or do what they can from afar, that is what gives me hope. I appreciate it so much and am so grateful to be apart of YOUR community, wherever or whenever it was that we crossed paths. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

 Ventura from Grant Park.

Ventura from Grant Park.

I have made a promise to myself that I will do anything I can to help anyone in need. So please, if you or someone close to you needs help, please let me know. I also made a promise to myself that I will not stop sending my energy and strength to my fellow Venturans, and will continue to help rebuild the city that shaped me. Every community I have been apart of has been such an amazing chapter in my life, but Ventura will always be home. #venturastrong

I hope this holiday season you can find it in your heart to help a person, a family, or a community who needs a little extra TLC. Listed below are some organizations you can donate to. I am always accepting donations via Venmo, which I send directly to my roots in Ventura who can help at any given time or day. @CBDurs22. I am also putting on two donation-based classes this weekend at Fit Austin. Sign up here.

Ventura County Community Foundation

Ventura Strong

Humane Society of Ventura County

United Way of Ventura County

"Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others." -Martin Luther King