Yesterday was the Bandit Tour’s last day on the road before driving to our final destination, San Francisco. We planned our route to include a stop in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, a county completely devastated by the October wildfires. We know all too well the reality of what wildfires can do to communities, with BC having seen the worst fire season in history this year, destroying thousands of homes and over a million hectares of land. We were hoping to lend a hand doing whatever we could to support the local community and were so fortunate to join our partners at FinancialForce in their volunteer efforts.
The Bandits arrived at the Santa Rosa Habitat for Humanity (H4H) ReStore, a few short blocks from where the fire had torn through and destroyed blocks of homes as far as the eye could see. The Santa Rosa chapter of H4H has built 30 homes in the past three decades and since the fires, they have set a very realistic goal of building one home per week between now and June 2018. According to the H4H Volunteer Coordinator, the vacancy rate in Santa Rosa was already dire at 0.3% and the fires made a difficult housing situation impossible.
Every Sunday in November, this ReStore is opening its doors to fire survivors, giving away household items, bedding, and providing a $100 ReStore gift card for furniture to anyone with an address in the ravaged areas. The Bandits were there to meet them when they arrived and listen to their stories as they helped them find what they needed. These were people who have lost everything, yet they were smiling and so grateful, one person saying, “wow, this is just like Christmas”.
Our drive out of Santa Rosa took us right to the fire line; business as usual and buildings intact on one side of the street, everything gutted and charred on the other. The emotions were overwhelming. These were the homes of the people we just spent the morning with, who have come together as a community to find support, positivity and hope in each other. It was difficult to leave knowing there was so much we could do if we stayed.
We collected ourselves and drove the last leg to San Francisco to roll up our sleeves and set up Swig Whiskey Bar, Traction’s Dreamforce headquarters. By the end of the night, Swig had turned into a Canadian plaid wonderland and the adjoining parking lot a true Traction Campsite. The Bandits did a final wrap-up huddle, tying a bow around this year’s road trip and getting ready to pass the Bandit baton to our Dreamforce Tractionites. They will now be the ones sharing the Bandit Tour story with customers, potential clients, friends, and everyone they meet.
The road trip may be over, but the messages of a community not a company and giving what you’re good at live on. We’re supporting a couple more non-profits in San Francisco before we do the official hand-off, the tour bus is traded in for planes and the Bandits go back home to tell the tale of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!