Family displaced by Almeda Fire gets new mobile home

TALENT, Ore.– A family that lost their home in the Almeda Fire has a new place to live, thanks to the hard work of hundreds of local students.

200 students from six different schools in Southern Oregon came together to turn a retired school bus into a motor home.

Audrey, who received the mobile home Friday morning, said, “it felt like we were in last place and now we’re in first place, ready to go with everybody.”

Audrey and her two kids have been homeless since their home was destroyed in the Almeda Fire.

For them, having a permanent place to live represents stability they haven’t had in a long time.

“That brings us from a state of dependency to a state of self-sufficiency, and that’s huge,” Audrey said.

The bus is part of the Southern Oregon S.T.E.M. Hub’s “Bus Project”.

The project wants to continue converting buses into living spaces in Jackson and Josephine counties.

They are working with the Skoolie Foundation, who donated the bus.

The foundation’s founder Julie Akins said, “when we forget our children, we forget our own futures. So it means everything to me that we were able to be a part of this.”

The bus took a year-long effort to renovate.

It includes a shower, a refrigerator and a stove.

Students from Ashland High School, South Medford High School, Armadillo Tech and Phoenix and Talent Middle and High Schools all helped renovate the bus.

Audrey says knowing her family was going to have a place to stay kept them going.

“I have met so many other single moms along the way in the same situation, and if they were offered this type of opportunity, it would be the same thing for them,” she said.

Lucia McGuire who worked on the bus and painted the mural on the side said seeing the effect the bus had on Audrey made her hard work worth it.

“This was actually what we wanted to happen. Someone who really wanted to live in something like this appreciate what it had to go through to get it to where it is,” McGuire said.

Mcguire’s and other student’s hard work resulted in the dependable living situation that Audrey and her family have needed for so long.

“For us, it just means the only truly sustainable option that we’ve been given,” Audrey said.

Students at Rogue Valley Trades in Grants Pass are working on another bus, they hope to give it to a family in need as well.

NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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