Christina Olivas, a senior at Rocky Mountain High School, welcomes victims of the fire into Johnson Hall last Friday. She remains calm, even as a man sits down across from her and breaks out into a sob, explaining he has lost everything to the High Park Fire.
“It’s a real eye-opener,” Olivas said. “Coming from small high school problems to people who have lost everything they had. It’s definitely good for me.”
Olivas, along with many other volunteers, arrived at Johnson Hall on Friday for the opening of a disaster relief center hosted by CSU in Johnson Hall.
“The university historically reaches out to the community and part of the land grant is to be giving to the community,” Mike Hooker, executive director of Public Affairs and Communications at CSU, said. “This is just another opportunity to be a part of the community land grant universities are supposed to be.”
The center was set up in a matter of days, according to Deni La Rue, PIO for Larimer County, due to the efforts of both the University and the city.
“They’ve made it very smooth and very easy,” La Rue, said. “I almost feel like we’re a partnership between the three of us: Larimer county, CSU and the state department of local affairs.”
The center is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. La Rue expects the center to remain open for about 3-4 weeks, depending on the need.
Inside the center, those affected by the fire will find booths equipped with information things such as housing, safety precautions to consider when returning home, mental health consultation and insurance. There is also a booth specifically for CSU employees affected by the fire.
“Johnson hall was just the perfect spot to be at the hub of all of these resources to help folks get moving forward and trying to figure out what the next step is to recover from their losses of the fire,” Hooker said.
Brad Kucera, CSU Senior sports medicine major, heard about the need for volunteers through his involvement in CSU ROTC. He arrived Friday morning to help usher fire survivors through the center.
“We’re a college town and that really says a lot. It says a lot about what the college means to the town, and, what the town means to the college.”
For more information about ways you can volunteer at the center, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (970) 498-7150.