Reunion 805: We Rise Together
By Misty Hall
Ventura County has gone through some trying times in recent years with the Thomas, Hill, and Woolsey Fires, the Montecito debris flows, as well as the Borderline Bar & Grill tragedy. But these events have revealed something profound about our VC friends and neighbors: we rise together. We’ve stepped up to take care of one another in myriad ways — donating money and supplies, offering our services (of every kind), and even just sharing a hug with someone who lost everything.
We discovered that we share a lot more than a geographical region. We share a genuine spirit of goodwill, and a true eagerness to be of service to one another.
That’s why Fox Fine Jewelry has teamed up with local artists, restaurants, and other businesses to host Reunion 805 on Nov. 17 — to reconnect to that spirit, and raise funds for survivors’ ongoing needs. And hey, why not have a little fun while we’re at it?
The heart of the event is slated for the just-renovated alley behind Fox Fine Jewelry, with live (and danceable!) music from The Vinyl Gypsies, a magician for the kids, a photo booth, cornhole, silent auction, and appetizers from six local restaurants. Wine, beer, and an art show will be located inside the store. A Tribute Wall is also planned, allowing visitors to write or draw a message of recovery or inspiration with provided art supplies. There will also be nine fire disaster recovery and prevention booths to offer resources and information.
Reunion 805 kicks off on Saturday evening from 6 to 8 pm with the opening of the art show, featuring seven artists who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire: Barbara Bowman, Lois Bloom, Luisa Bernardi Neher, Shahastra Levy, Gerd Koch, Dawn Reily, and Carole Milton. Sunday’s main Reunion 805 event runs from 2 to 5 pm.
Beyond simply wanting to help, what’s the significance of the wildfires for the Fox Fine Jewelry folks? Debbie Fox explained. “Our home and business both narrowly escaped the Thomas fire. It was chaos, and we wanted to help, but how? We make jewelry,” she said. “Then we realized that most people fled with nothing, and they probably only had their wedding ring, if that. So we custom designed diamond necklaces to give to those whose homes had burned.” They gave away 700 of them, and sold hundreds more, raising almost $70,000 to-date for survivors. As time went on and people brought what jewelry they’d sifted from the ashes into Fox Fine Jewelry for restoration, employees connected even more deeply with their customers.
Fox wanted to commemorate all that the community had been through, and a painting by Barbara Brown, Rising From the Ashes, served as inspiration. “The painting represents hope and strength and beauty in the face of disaster,” Fox said. “I knew I wanted a special art show at the anniversaries of the disasters. Many other people, businesses, and organizations wanted to participate, so it ballooned into this large, second event for the community. Strange, right? I didn’t plan or intend to have Reunion 805. It came from the community; I am just facilitating.”
So why host an event now? Fox pointed out that just because the fires have long since burned out, survivors are still dealing with the aftermath — and that may continue for years to come. “The vast majority of people from the Thomas Fire are still not in their homes, and insurance money for temporary living has run out,” she said. “Woolsey survivors are a long way out.”
Reunion 805 is free to the public, but there are many ways people can donate to help support survivors while also enjoying the fun. One easy option: purchase a Fox Fine Jewelry Strong necklace; they feature custom designs like So Cal Strong, Thrive 805, Ojai, Montecito, and Ventura. Half of the proceeds go to survivors.
“Most of the proceeds are going to Totally Local VC, which coordinates with the other many local long-term disaster recovery partners, hosts informational events, and arranges for donations to those in need,” Fox said.
Reunion 805 begins Saturday, Nov. 16 with an art show opening from 6 to 8 pm, then picks up on Sunday, Nov. 17 for the main event from 2 to 5 pm. For more info, check out bit.ly/reunion805.
Learn more about the artists at bit.ly/ThomasSurvivorArtists; Totally Local VC at totallylocalvc.com; and Fox Fine Jewelers at foxfinejewelry.com.
Fox Fine Jewelry is at 560 E Main St. in Ventura.