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Three teachers used time off to donate their hands and hearts to a wonderful cause for fire victims in Paradise, California. 

With family living in areas affected by California’s infamous yearly fires, Cindy Miller, a fourth grade teacher at Samuel Kennedy Elementary School, has actively sought out ways to help the many fire victims in various areas. When the CampFire hit and destroyed so many homes, Cindy again decided to do what she could and volunteer her time in some way. Eventually, Cindy was connected with Alyssa Nolan-Cain, a mother of three, who had lost her home in a California fire eight years previous. Alyssa had started a project to build tiny homes for Paradise Fire victims, and Cindy was ready to help!

Cindy got on the phone and recruited her father-in-law, mother-in-law, uncle, several family friends and two teachers from Samuel Kennedy to help. Four of her family members traveled all the way from Los Angeles to help. Cindy recruited fellow teachers Tina Taveria, a third grade teacher, along with her family and exchange student and reading specialist Cara Boehler. These compassionate educators sacrificed much of their spring break traveling each day to a community outside of Chico, California to build tiny homes for those who had lost so much in the fires.  

On the first day of building, teamwork was the name of the game as the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) volunteers and their friends and family split into two teams. While one team completed a deck on the first build, the other team built the frame for the second 200 square foot tiny house. Each day saw the house of labor turn Alyssa’s dream of helping others into reality as countertops, backsplashes, and paneling put the finishing touches on the homes. Thousands of people have signed up for Alyssa Nolan-Cain’s program, hoping to be a lucky recipient of one of these homes. The first completed home was presented to a father and his disabled son who had still been living in a shelter since the fire. 

Kennedy Elementary is known for its incredibly dedicated staff and loving atmosphere. The example these teachers provided to the students and community surrounding Kennedy adds to the culture that Kennedy Principal Wendy Thompson is working hard with their staff to provide to every student. “My Kennedy staff practices outrageous love on so many levels in their daily work here as well as when they are on vacation,” says Principal Thompson. 

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