Renee Van Heel

Daily Point of Light # 4359 Oct 21, 2010

All Fired Up

When wildfires devastated her community in 2007 and burned her home, Renee van Heel did not wallow in despair, instead she got “fired up.”

Renee founded a support group to help the women of the San Diego community who had lost their homes. The organization, Fired Up Sisters, works to get fire victims back into their homes and help fire victims to become fire survivors.

The group has grown to include six hundred women in the last two and a half years and continues with its efforts until all of its members are back in their homes. It meets bi-weekly and each meeting includes guest speakers which assist the fire victims with such things as stress reduction, solving insurance problems and dealing with family issues.

Under Renee’s leadership the group became a smooth-running machine equipped to solicit and distribute donations to burned out victims. Renee designed the program to include a donation leader trained to procure discounted services and donated items from stores. Another group leader manages the collection and distribution of donated items. So many individuals and companies were inspired by Renee’s call for help that the quantity of donations collected necessitated the rental of a warehouse. Renee inspired others to take over a host of other responsibilities including organizing fundraising events and expanding volunteer opportunities to benefit the fire victims through partnership with the Hands On Network.

Members are so grateful for the support and assistance that Fired Up Sisters has provided them during their difficult time that they want to document their processes to help potential victims of a future catastrophe. Renee and the group want to help future victims by giving them access to the tools they developed so they have support at the very beginning of their crisis.