Malibu families struggling to recover after the Woolsey Fire are receiving support from the “Adopt-a-Family” project of Malibu Love.
The program was the brainchild of homemaker and mom Tahia Hocking. Website founder, Kelly Wirht, a web designer who grew up in Malibu, and local Shayna Spreckman helped make it happen.
Visit malibulove.org/families-in-need/ to see all the families listed and donate.
The requirement for a family or individual to be included is that they must have lost their home in the Woolsey Fire. Families are vetted by providing a FEMA claim number; pictures of their damaged property and a cross-check of addresses with the City of Malibu website listing damaged/total loss properties.
The Rucker-Jensen family
Single mom Amanda Rucker and two sons—Nathan Rucker-Jensen, 18, and Christopher Rucker-Jensen, 17 (although Chris likes to just go with Rucker)—lost their home in the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park near Kanan Dume Road and Mulholland Highway in the Woolsey Fire.
A friend wrote that Amanda, “Works as an in-home nurse and is raising two amazing teenage boys all by herself with zero support. She and her sons evacuated their home immediately when the fire came near, but there were no first responders in their area and they had no warning. Their house, along with everything in it, is gone. She’s one of the loveliest humans I’ve ever met and would help anyone in anyway (sic) if she could.”
The family’s GoFundMe page was created by the son of a friend. “His kindness makes me cry,” Amanda wrote. “After the devastation and loss from the fire, it was the support of our family, friends and this community that lifted us up and carried us through those first few months.”
Although the Ruckers initially received some financial aid from various agencies and organizations, they spent it on necessities. “I’ve gone back to work, but we continue to struggle financially,” Amanda continued. “Now, with all the post-fire work that continues to be needed, I can’t possibly work the overtime hours I was putting in before the fire (that barely supported us)—there’s still too much to do to move forward in our recovery. I don’t want to ask for help, yet we need it. It’s scary and stressful; and the loss is so, so heartbreaking. Yet still, there’s so much love and support that surrounds us, it’s also easy to be grateful. And gratitude heals the broken heart.”
Amanda reports that the family now has a temporary residence paid for by insurance, but that the insurance will run out before their permanent home is ready.
“I’m going backwards financially about $3,000 a month because I can’t work full time, let alone overtime,” she wrote. “I’m utilizing the therapeutic help of Roots & Wings (a Malibu nonprofit providing free counseling services), and it’s helping reduce my stress. My boys are trying to get used to a new normal. And, we continue to have a lot of love in our home, which is getting us through this mess.”
The Goodman-Scher family
Emily Scheris a single mother of two teens—Matt Goodman, 16, and Nikki Goodman, 19. The family lost its home near Trancas Canyon Road in the Woolsey Fire, and lived in one of six condo units that burned to the ground.
“My insurance is pathetic and won’t cover us for loss of use, personal property or rebuilding. I’m paying rent and mortgage simultaneously,” Scher wrote. “We received $50,000 from our insurance to rebuild a condo that appraised at over $1 million (although the HOA will rebuild the outside).”
Scher lived in Malibu for 26 years, but moved the family to Calabasas since the fire, signing a one-year lease. The insurance will give her a total of $20,000 toward rent over the next few years, which isn’t going to last long enough for the condo to be rebuilt.
“I don’t know how I will rebuild, but I have complete faith I will make it happen. I’m not a victim, but a survivor. This happened for me, and it’s already becoming apparent from all of the support this community is giving,” Scher wrote.
Scher, an independent videographer and photographer (and Malibu Times Magazine contributor), lost quite a few pieces of camera and computer equipment in the fire, which affected her ability to earn a living.
“I didn’t work for three months and just started working recently; mostly due to emotional shock,” she wrote. “I just couldn’t pick up my camera for months, even to capture a sunset—it just seemed pointless.”
The son who was still a student at Malibu High School is now being home schooled since moving to Calabasas.