Trial by FireJune 15th, 2012
by Karl Robillard
For many staff and volunteers who live in the East Bay, yesterday proved to be a test of faith and resilience to keep the miracle on Jones Street going without missing a meal – a miracle that has continued nearly every day since we served our first meal on October 4th, 1950. By 2:30am, a three-alarm fire engulfed West Oakland and the neighboring BART station. Fire trucks, ambulances, and helicopters swirled throughout the area as emergency officials closed the BART lines going into the city.
Our head chef awoke to see the fire in person on the opposite block of her West Oakland home. She hopped in a car and managed to beat the onslaught of traffic (the Chronicle reported 27.5% more traffic on the Bay Bridge yesterday). One staff person arranged a shared taxi to get from Oakland to San Francisco in time to help fill in for others that could not make it. Those who live in San Francisco arrived early to triage critical operational decisions, ensuring our Dining Room doors would open, as always, at 10am.
Cissie Bonini, Director of Basic Services and Emergency Preparedness described the effort by saying, “We know we can’t stop serving. Everyone chipped in. Volunteers chipped in. We pulled staff from our Clothing Program and we made it happen.”
More often than not, people rise to the occasion in emergency situations. Walter Elliott once said, “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” For those of you around the Bay Area who rose to the occasion yesterday, thanks for racing with us.