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The primary goal of Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project is to activate and organize members of our community in the aftermath of a disaster within our 805 communities and to provide relief and support to those affected by disaster. This is Local helping Local.
Who we are
As we all know, the Thomas Fire broke out the evening of December 4, 2017 in Santa Paula. It quickly swept over the hills of Santa Paula and Ventura into Ojai and Fillmore, making its way into neighboring Santa Barbara County. The Thomas Fire eventually became the largest fire in California history, consuming over 281,000 acres, destroying over 1,000 homes and causing the evacuation of over 100,000 people in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The Wicked Wire Ranch, home to Totally Local VC and its education garden, was one of these homes.
With little direction and many not knowing what to do, many local residents across the county sprang into action in an effort to help their neighbors.
Kat Merrick is interviewed by ABC7, Los Angeles
Having first-hand experience in this crisis, Totally Local VC once again knew that we could help and make a positive impact on our community by helping those in need. By helping to active and to organize people wanting to help, we were able to solve the immediate needs for victims of the fire and the mudslides and to continue this help at each step in the recovery process.
Donate to the Local Love Project
Thousands of people in Ventura County are in dire need of assistance.
We are asking you to help us to help them. Please donate today!
Help the Local Love Project to help disaster survivors
Buy a copy of The Local Love Project Holiday Album
Helping on a multitude of levels
Understanding the quickest way to make impact in the relief process was to address it at several different outreach levels. Here is a quick overview of just a few of our efforts:
One on one help. We worked directly with those affected to address their needs during each cycle in the process, from crisis to starting over. Each individual not only received needed items, but also information on all the relief and help services available.
Warehouse filled with needed items. Through our partnerships, we quickly created a warehouse filled with items necessary to solve the immediate needs for victims of the fire and the mudslides, continuing this help at each step in the recovery and starting over process.
Distribution system. Fast thinking and solid partnerships allowed us to create a distribution system that can not only help direct relief and outreach efforts but also supply items to other non-profits providing fire/mudslide assistance to those affected in the 805 area.
Working in Partnership. In true, Totally Local VC style, we partnered with several organizations in our community and the Local Love Project and 805 Strong Network were formed. We quickly created a warehouse and distribution system that helps direct relief and outreach efforts while solving immediate needs for victims of the fire and the mudslides, continuing this help at each step in the recovery process.
We're here to stay
The Local Love Project is a new and permanent part of our Totally Local VC mission and will remain in place so that, the next time our community is hit by disaster or in a time of need, we can be ready and there to help.
#LocalLoveProject, #805Strong, #TotallyLocalVC
We'll get through this together
Through the support of the following organizations and local residents, we have been able to help those in Ventura County affected by the Coronavirus, Thomas Fire and mudslides. Together, we work toward the vision rebuilding our 805 communities:
Totally Local VC
805 Strong Network
Thomas Fire Help
Cronies Sports Bar
Sunset Dental/Dr Randall Atanay
Signature Flight Support
Crown Plaza Ventura Beach
Bike Ventura HUB
Mile 26 Sports
Wildfire Legal Group
Gold Coast Acura of Ventura
JD Drury and The Boys and Girls
Thrift Store (Avenue Thrift Store)
Rhonnie Curt/Society Social Calendar
Ventura Real Estate Co
San Buenaventura Mission
Proctor and Gamble
Majestic Ventura Theater
4 Kids 2 Kids Toy Drive
Blue Steel Media/Ventura Strong
Ventura Strong Ts
Turning Point Foundation
Ventura Breeze Newspaper
Help of Ojai
Santa Barbara Soup Kitchen
Santa Barbara Outreach
Ventura Rotary East
Plated Events by Jason Collis
Petunia Pickle Bottom
Mary Ann Rooney
Feed the Front Line
Deardorff Family Farms
Community Memorial Hospital
Ventura County Credit Union
Community Action of Ventura County
Friends of the Farm Workers
Multiples Juntos En La Escuela, Decision De Los Padres
2-1-1 Ventura County
Ventura County Fire Dept
Local Love Project
Edible Ojai & Ventura County
Dole Food Company
Reiter Affiliated Companies
Firestone Walker Brewing Co
Democratic Socialists of America
Southern Baptist Convention
Ventura County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster
Clinicas del Camino Real
Ventura Rental Party & Events
Justice at Work
Peirano’s Market & Delicatessen
Stephen’s Market & Grill
Port of Hueneme
Ventura County Fairgrounds
Enterprise Truck Rental
Wicked Wire Ranch
Rock of Love
Modern Age Dentistry
TV Tray Studios
Fox Fine Jewelry
Ralph’s Garage Recording Studio
Plum Gift Boutique
Dave’s Christmas Trees
Habitat For Humanity Ventura
Ventura County VOAD
The Church of Rocky Peak
Church of Scientology Volunteers
Surf Rodeo team
Farm Credit West
World Central Kitchen Chefs
Kids & Families Together
Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley
Feeding the Frontline: Feeding Our Farmworkers
Jim Duran and The River Community Church
Special thanks to the Channel Islands Lodge No. 214 Free and Accepted Masons, Ventura and all of its members for their enormous support of our community.
We need your help
There is so much work to be done to help the thousands of Ventura County residents in need of assistance. We have been inundated with requests. We need your help. Thank you.
Thousands of people in Ventura County are in dire need of assistance. We are asking you to help us to help them. Please donate funds today!
Please go to our online form if you can donate services such as driving, requesting donations, grant writing, sewing or graphic design.
Join with us as we help those affected by the coronavirus in Ventura County. Please go to our online form and
sign up as a volunteer.
Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Help those affected by the pandemic, fires and mudslides
Donate to the Local Love Project
Thomas Fire Stories
A number of the Totally Local VC team members were profoundly affected by the Thomas Fire as were many, many others in our community. CAPS Media, a private non-profit media center that manages the Public, Educational, and Government access television channels in Ventura, interviewed several local residents affected by the fire and included many of them in the documentary, The Perfect Firestorm: The Thomas Fire Stories.
Among those interviewed were Totally Local VC’s CEO, Kat Merrick, and board member, Lance Korthals. These are their Thomas Fire Stories:
Thomas Fire Stories
Kat Merrick, CEO of Totally Local VC and the Local Love Project, was interviewed for the documentary “The Perfect Firestorm: The Thomas Fire Story,” produced by CAPS Media, Ventura’s local television station.
Kat shares her story of before, during and after the fire consumed Wicked Wire Ranch, her home and the home to Totally Local VC and its education garden, burning it to the ground on the first night of the Thomas Fire. This video is Kat’s complete interview, portions of which were included in the documentary.
The Perfect Firestorm
The Thomas Fire Story
“The Perfect Firestorm: The Thomas Fire Story,” produced by CAPS Media, Ventura’s local television station, is a documentary film that chronicles personal stories of survival and healing during and following the devastating Thomas Fire.
Totally Local VC’s CEO, Kat Merrick, and board member, Lance Korthals, whose homes were destroyed in the fire, were interviewed for and appear in this wonderful documentary. This film premiered at the Museum of Ventura County Pavilion on December 16, 2018.
“The Perfect Firestorm” is a tribute to our entire community of heroes who, in the face of an overwhelming crisis, responded with astonishing calm and then opened their hearts, hands and homes to rescue neighbors and strangers and together rebuild their lives.
Thomas Fire Stories
Totally Local VC board member, Lance Korthals, was interviewed for the documentary “The Perfect Firestorm: The Thomas Fire Story,” produced by CAPS Media, Ventura’s local television station.
Now a former resident of the Hawaiian Village Apartments, Lance shares his story of before, during and after the flames turned the entire 53-unit apartment complex into a huge pile of smoldering ashes on the first night of the Thomas Fire. This video is Lance’s complete interview, portions of which were included in the documentary.
What we’ve done so far – a partial list
In this time of crisis, it has been individuals who have stepped up to help each other. Here we list just a few of the things we have done and are doing to help those affected by the Thomas Fire and mudslides:
- Local Love. We enlisted the help of local residents wanting to help us help others, assigned them different areas of need, filled the needs and delivered items throughout the 805 to outreach centers, shelters, other fire help pop-ups and individuals in need.
- 805 Strong pop-up store. Hosted by Blue Steel Media and located at the Masons Lodge in downtown Ventura for three weeks, we were able to help and assist over 480 people.
- Local Love holiday cheer. Over 400 gifts were donated and distributed during the holidays to children who had lost their homes. Through a partnership with the Crowne Plaza – Ventura Beach, we distributed toys at area hotels, all given out by Santa and Mrs. Claus! 460 stockings were filled and placed in the rooms of those affected by the fires as well as the first responders. Toys and stockings were also taken to outreach centers in Santa Barbara and Ojai.
- Fill the Backpack Program. 168 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated and distributed to students affected by the Thomas Fire.
- Animal Shelters. With the help of local animal lovers, we were able to deliver much-needed items to area animal shelters through Ventura County.
- Immediate relief to mudslide victims. On the morning of the Montecito mudslides, our team members, with the help of Island Packers and Signature Flight Support, took a boat to Santa Barbara and delivered 200 much-needed crisis bags and other needed items to the victims of the Thomas Fire mudslides.
- Baby items. Donated new cribs and baby items were to families who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire.
- Local Love Pop-up Store. Through generous donations from Patagonia, we provided new clothing items to over 280 individuals affected by the Thomas Fire and mudslides.
- Bicycle giveaway. In partnership with Bike Ventura HUB and Giant Bicycles, we distributed over 200 donated bikes to individuals affected by the Thomas Fire.
- Distribution hub. Through our partnership with Gold Coast Acura, we main hub distribution of needed items. We house donations of new items and then distribute them throughout the 805 as needed.
- Organization and collaboration. Through quick action and seeing the need for collaborating of help efforts, Channel Islands Lodge No. 214 Free and Accepted Masons brought many of the top individuals and organizations in the county together to help organize and collaborate relief efforts. This, in turn, helped streamline distribution efforts and created a stronger information network as we each worked to help the community.
- Assistance information. A resource guide was created containing all the organizations and services that are offered for victims of the fire and mudslides. It was provided to everyone with whom we are working. One of the best resource list is made available by one of our 805 partners, the Thomas Fire Help website. Each of us involved help feed current information to them, which is then added to their site. This truly is collaboration at its best.
- Social media. Social media has been an amazing tool in our outreach. Using our contact lists and media-industry connections, the Local Love Project is made up of a large group of like-minded people who, in this time of need, rallied the troops to help our 805 communities.
Help support the Local Love Project’s disaster relief efforts
Thanks so much for donating. The Local Love Project continues to help those affected by disasters in our community as well as providing preparedness education and supplies to families in need.
Chose Donation Amount
Local Love Project Donation
Got a question about The Local Love Project ? Questions about donations? Whatever you want to know, we want to hear from you. Just fill out the contact form and we’ll get right back to you.
Twice now we have been the recipients of the generosity of the pop-ups organized by Totally Local VC. And so…
To all of you who contributed to our aid after we lost everything in the fire, thank you! Your kindness is overwhelmingly comforting and greatly appreciated. You have warmed our hearts with your generosity and have helped make our temporary living accommodations feel a bit more like home.
Truly, you have made our journey toward recovery an easier road to travel.
From our hearts,
Alex, Koreen, and Trevor
My kids just came home from school with an incredible, more than generous, box. We can not even begin to thank Totally Local VC and Zappos for your gift. We are just overwhelmed and we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!!!
Thank you SO much for continuing to support all those who lost our homes.
Thank you for all your support, love and overall badassery Kat Merrick and Team.
It was so nice to shop at the Oaks location last month. I found some useful items and warm clothes for my son and I. The volunteer group has done a really amazing job managing and organizing so may donations on behalf of fire victims.
Local Love Project
I just found out about your Project!! ? God Bless you ALL!
Kat and the Local Love Team,
It was such a pleasure to meet you yesterday. We are so grateful to you and your beautiful team of volunteers. Santa and his elves have nothing on you guys! It is such a humbling feeling to be told “please take more”. Dealing with the insurance companies and others on the opposite end of this make one feel, at times, that the local community can be so dark and harsh. Thank you for making us feel so loved and supported.
It is a privilege to volunteer for the Local Love Project.
Dear Kat and Local Love Team,
Thank you so very much for including my family and I in the Local Love donation center event this past Sunday. We all were so impressed with how many incredible household, toiletries, and clothing items you had there for us!
We appreciate you and all you are doing to help us and others in our boat!
You are amazing!
Thank you again for putting together another wonderful event. I cannot imagine how you manage to do everything you do both with your own recovery and the community’s recovery. We had only been in Ventura for 4 months before the fire and are grateful for our fire survivor community. You have made a significant difference in our recovery – from our rainbow shells to our Patagonia jackets to our beloved quilts. We appreciate you Local Love Project!
Thank you SO MUCH for including us in the event yesterday, Kat!!
Paul and Falyn were so excited when I shared with them last night the nice things I got for the family at the event yesterday!
I also just sent Nichole an email to thank her for all her hard work, too.
I am in awe with how much you are doing to help our community, as well as helping others from the Thomas fire.
The money you got for us is unreal!!
You are a GEM!
I am glad I got to at least give you a hug in person yesterday.
Thank you again for ALL!!
And wishing you a very peaceful Sunday!
Stacie, Paul, Falyn and Gypsy the pooch
PS. The Patagonia coat is MY FAVE!!!! I needed one so badly and that one fits like a glove!! THANK YOU!!! I will be wearing it every day at the beach when I take Gypsy down for her morning run!