The stories coming out of Butte County since the Camp Fire erupted have been overwhelming, but for me, it’s also very personal. My closest friends from optometry school live and practice in Paradise: Anthony Rudick and Ann-Chi Chen-Rudick are the co-owners of Ridge Eye Care along with their partner, Isaac Barthelow, M.D. Ridge Eye Care was a large and thriving group practice until everything came to a halt on that awful day in November. Anthony evacuated the practice at 8:30am, so everyone was able to leave Paradise before the terrifying gridlock that trapped many residents. Miraculously, the practice and the Rudicks’ home did not burn, however 12 of the office’s 20 employees lost their homes. The practice cannot function since the town is uninhabitable, therefore there are no patients to see and no basic utilities to service the building. While some employees have been able to relocate and work at their other offices in the region, most are displaced and struggling to piece together their lives. It will be a very long road to normalcy for everyone. My heart breaks for all of them.
Anthony and Ann-Chi are two of the kindest people I have ever met, and in true fashion, they have been working tirelessly with Isaac to help their employees through this stressful period of transition. Anthony grew up in Paradise, and Isaac is from Chico. They are committed to being an integral part of helping Paradise rise from the ashes. Isaac has been hosting evacuated employees at his house in Chico, and others are parking trailers on the rural property where Anthony and Ann-Chi live. (Thankfully, their Chico and Yuba City offices have been able to offer continuity of care for their patients.) Ann-Chi used an Amazon wish list to organize a toy drive for the kids of the Ridge Eye Care family, resulting in 60+ gifts that will be distributed to their employees. Unfortunately, the need for help will extend far beyond the Christmas season.
Anthony and Ann-Chi have redirected all offers for help to their employees and their daughter’s pre-school. Therefore I have chosen to focus our holiday giving on contributions that will directly help the families of Ridge Eye Care. Local colleagues and businesses will be receiving “donations in your name” from us rather than the usual plant/food gifts that we typically deliver during this time of year.
We have donation bins in my office if you’d like to donate items to the families. We will be taking them up to the victims as the bins fill during the coming months, ensuring that they go directly to displaced employees. Items requested include the following: non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, toiletries, masks, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste, linens, blankets, dishes, baby items, water, pet food, pet gear, gas cards, gift cards, etc.
Anticipating a few potential questions…
Q1: If I cannot bring a donation until after Christmas, will it be too late?
A1: Nope! We will continue to deliver donations after the holiday season as the bins fill up. It is our hope that we will be making lots of trips to Paradise.
Q2: Is there a way to donate directly via an online source?
A2: Yes! A few of the employees have created personal pages for collecting donations. I have omitted the links here for privacy reasons, but will happily provide them via private message if you send me a request.
Q3: May I mail donation items to you?
A3: Yes, feel free to send items to the mailing address on our website.
Q4: Has there been any specific news coverage on Ridge Eye Care?
A3: Yes, Anthony was interviewed by the local NPR station. His segment starts at 23:33 on this podcast from December 3, 2018.
Thank you for reading this lengthy but important post.
‘Tis the season for giving and gratitude! –LMH