In the early morning hours of November 8th, Jeff Evans stepped out of his Concow California home, alongside his 92 year old dad Chuck, to find the sky bright orange with clouds of smoke obliterating the sun. Winds were whipping the fire into a hellish inferno headed right to his home of 22 years.
Chuck drove a quarter of a mile and realized there was no way out, the flames were already there.
With heroic courage, father and son dug fire breaks and put out flames that threatened their lives, as Jeff Evans mom sat inside and waited through the hell that had entrapped them in their home. Jeff and his dad knew that day could be their last, but they were going to give it everything they had, and they did.
The fire passed, leaving the small town of 710 in utter devastation.
Jeff was in an evacuation area, and he could have chosen to leave, yet he stayed. As he drove through the burned out homes of his neighbors, he saw one dog, then another, and another, and then more. The dogs would be frightened, and thirsty and hungry. He took them home, to have a place to sleep and to eat and be safe.
Each day he went out to find cats and dogs abandoned during the fire that came so fast that people could not get to their animals, or could not bring them to safety. He posted on community sites that he had the dogs and they were safe, people could claim them and be reunited. Those that were burned, he cared for. Those that were afraid to come with him, he brought food.
Even donkeys seemed to know he was a friend as they stopped by to be treated to peppermint candies. The animals, once strangers to one another had become friends. They seemed to understand the kindness in Jeff Evans and they responded in kind.
For the residents of Concow, Jeff told them about their homes; almost all were lost. They wanted to know as they could not get into the area. He drove through and checked everyone’s properties each day, picking up animals when he saw them, and giving them comfort.
The Next Leap Forward
It takes courage and compassion to put others before oneself in the best of times, more so in times of turmoil and crisis; even if those others are animals.
In giving of ourselves, we receive tenfold back.
Jeff Evans gave his time to be the eyes and ears for his neighbors that could not get back to their homes. He looked outside of himself and helped so many dogs who were hurt and traumatized, and gave them shelter and tended to their needs.
To do the right thing for others in time of need is selfless. To be selfless builds our own sense of self.
Life is a circle to embrace. Stepping up is a gift we give. Kindness to people or animals in need takes a heart, and that heart will be repaid in kind within that circle of life.
Jeff Evans is a Brink Thinker and a man with such heart.
Image: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times