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October 2021 Burn Bulletin

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October 2021 Burn Bulletin

AARBF Spent Labor Day Weekend with Burn Survivors and Their Families

Over the Labor Day weekend, September 4-6, 2021, AARBF hosted The Getaway Family Camp! We welcomed 14 burn survivors and their 41 family/support members at Camp Oakhurst in Coarsegold, CA.

There was a full weekend of activities including: support groups (both English and Spanish), open mic, pool time, archery, a climbing wall, paintball, a giant swing, ice breaker, Kids’ Club/childcare, campfire, outdoor bingo, movie night featuring “The Good Dinosaur” and camp slideshow!

We were fortunate to have the help of 11 fabulous volunteers: Hamster, Rajah, Shred, Chop Suey, Ricky Rescue, Alpine, Tokyo, and Bliss. They helped with transportation and logistics, organizing and managing the Kids Club and pictures. We also had Hydra and Snoopy as our Medical Team assisting with temperature checks and any minor needs. Our newest volunteer, Figgy, is a Marriage and Family Therapist who helped to lead groups and workshops.

Our wonderful staff, Scott “Scooter” Wertz, McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern, Daniel “Apollo” Chacon, and Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez, worked hard to create and maintain a safe environment so we could enjoy an in-person camp experience this year!

AARBF Remembers Alisa Ann Ruch

September 8th is always a special day for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. It is Alisa Ann’s birthday. When we think of Alisa, we think of her spirit.

Alisa was a special kid with a unique spirit.  Always a happy kid.

Alisa was described as a genius. She was a straight A student, and was very smart and gifted.

She was a kind leader. She would lead her younger brother and cousin and parade them around, as they all played together.

She could do anything she wanted and was fearless. She had a zest for life and really enjoyed everything about it.

Alisa’s memory lives on through the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. Her genius can be found in the innovative programs and services of the foundation. Her kind leadership can be found in the Board, staff and volunteers of the organization. Her fearlessness can be found in the hearts of the burn survivors who attend AARBF programs.

Alisa’s unique spirit remains with us because of our fabulous burn community. This year, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, we took 50 stories, from our burn community of survivors, volunteers, staff and supporters, and created the 50 Stories Coffee Table Book. This limited-edition book is available for purchase through our website at

AARBF Receives Support from the Oakland A’s Community Fund

We were very excited to have the Oakland A’s Community Fund include the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation in their 2021 Grant Program.

The Oakland A’s Community Fund has provided $250,000 in grants to local organizations through its 2021 Grant Program. The A’s awarded 30 general grants to local organizations that support the greater Bay Area, as well as nine social justice grants to organizations committed to uplifting the Bay Area through systemic change, advocacy, policy reform, and innovative direct service programs to underserved communities. The A’s recognized the organizations at the Coliseum during the team’s 6:40PM game versus the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Burn Survivors and Staff from AARBF were excited to be at the game for this announcement!

Thank you, Oakland A’s Community Fund for including AARBF and for all you do to enrich the Bay Area communities!

National Preparedness Month Meets Wildfire P.R.E.P.A.R.E.

During the month of September, we shared information about preparing for wildfires in honor of National Preparedness Month. Not only do we want you to be prepared, we also want you to have easy access to recovery tools. That is why we have combined the wildfire prevention and recovery information on our website. Simply visit to access the Wildfire P.R.E.P.A.R.E. Guide, Children & Recovery from Wildfires booklet, Psychological Impact of Wildfires on Burn and Trauma Survivors flyer, and Wildfire Support Guide to learn about the assistance we can provide to wildfire burn survivors.

Everything you need – all in one place!

Register Now for Phoenix World Burn Congress

Registration is now open for the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress. It will be a virtual experience again this year. AARBF is still accepting applications for Phoenix World Burn Congress Scholarships at

For those attending, we invite you to the 5th annual AARBF Ice Cream Social. Join us on October 22, 2021, at 1:30 – 2:30 PM. All participants will need to register in order to receive their ice cream gift card and Zoom login credentials. Register today at

AARBF Attends California Fire Chiefs’ Annual Conference

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation was a proud exhibitor at the California Fire Chiefs (CalChiefs) 2021 Conference, September 14-16, 2021 in San Diego. CalChiefs is a large and diverse professional association whose vision is to be the voice of the California Fire Service. The annual conference brings together industry leaders to connect on a full range of topics for fire and EMS. We extend our thanks to CalChiefs for allowing us to connect to numerous fire departments throughout California and we have a special thank you to Chief Ruben Grijalva for generously sponsoring our booth!

Survivors Enjoy a Great Day of Southern California Baseball

On September 19, 2021, AARBF joined 8 burn survivors and 18 of their family and friends for a beautiful day of baseball at Angels Stadium, watching the Angels play the Oakland A’s. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and spend the afternoon together. This event was made possible by the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation, who not only provided tickets to the game, but gift cards for concessions! Thank you!

AARBF Learns to Play the Kalimba

On Thursday, September 23, 2021, AARBF was joined with Bob Aymar, his wife Leslie, and daughter Amy as we jammed out during our Music Expression session. Bob taught us how to play the kalimba, which is a little hand-held instrument much like a piano! Bob so graciously donated all the kalimbas that were mailed out to all participants.  Our Music Expression session had 20 survivors, family members and friends participate. If you missed this session, the recording will be available on our website soon.

Our next Expression Session will be Writing Expression. Join Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann on October 28, 2021, for “FICTION—Exploring Your Life and Growth Through the Characters You Create”. Participants will learn to write their way into and through conflict as they put a character they create through problem situations to find new resolutions. We will work on practical writing exercises and character development for explorations of pain and joy, defeat and victory, and alternate solutions to trauma and drama.

Register today at Writing Expression is open to all members of our burn community, which includes survivors, volunteers, and supporters!

AARBF’s N.I.C.K. Partners with LACFD’s Sirens of Silence

AARBF’s Jennifer Radics-Johnson was proud to represent AARBF and the N.I.C.K. Program at the LA County Fire Department’s Sirens of Silence Community event on September 24, 2021! This specially tailored event allowed children with special needs, their families, therapists and firefighters from Fire Station 120 to meet in a sensory-sensitive space and learn from one another.

This special event featured the combination of the Sirens of Silence and the Neurotypical/Neurodiverse Independent Communication Kit (N.I.C.K.) programs for Fire and Burn Safety!

Promoting autism and special needs awareness, education and inclusion, the LACFD’s Sirens of Silence program consists of three parts: 1) training, information, resources and materials for first responders; 2) sensory-sensitive community events; and 3) safety-related and sensory-sensitive items for patients.

Click here to learn more about AARBF’s NICK Program.

AARBF Enjoyed a Day of Golf at the 38th Annual Southern California Golf Tournament

AARBF is grateful to Red Pointe Roofing, John Patterson and the nearly 100 golfers who came out to support the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation’s 38th Annual Southern California Golf Tournament on September 27, 2021 at the Via Verde Country Club in San Dimas, CA. Special guests Diane Ruch Host, Ken and Toni Hewett, Jennifer Radics-Johnson and AARBF Board President Russ Charvonia were also in attendance. A total of more than $32,000 was raised at this year’s event. Such a great day of golf, fun and fundraising!

Making the Central Valley a Safer Community for Kids

AARBF’s McKenzie Dern, as Burn Chair for Safe Kids Central California Coalition, was part of the team that accepted the Aetna Community Heart Award in recognition of Safe Kid’s work in injury prevention messaging efforts for local communities. Safe Kids Central California is a coalition of 30 agencies comprised of healthcare, law enforcement, social services, education, media and more who are dedicated to preventing unintentional injury in children. Way to go, McKenzie!

Purchase Your Game Night Tickets

If you are looking for a fun way to spend a Friday night and want to support AARBF, attend the Stanford versus Utah football game at Stanford Stadium on November 5, 2021.  Click here to purchase your tickets and $10 of each ticket purchased will be donated to AARBF. Remember, you must purchase your tickets through the special link to benefit AARBF!

Volunteer Opportunties:

Please check with your regional office for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

For Northern California, please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19

For Central California, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15

For Southern California, please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16

Upcoming Events:

October 28: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Writing Expression, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or


November 2: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

November 4: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Caregiver Support Group – Online Video Support, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.

November 5: AARBF Night at Stanford Stadium, Stanford vs. Utah football game

November 6: (10:00am – 11:00am) Virtual Yoga, click here to register online.

November 7: Northern California Adult Kayaking Trip, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19.

November 7: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

November 9: (6:00pm-7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

November 10: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), North/East Bay Burn Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

November 11: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.

November 16: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

November 18: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Statewide Support Group – Online, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.


November 25: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

November 30: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Art & Music Expression. Please note the date change. This special session will be combining art and music and will be the last session of the year. Contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or

November 30: Giving Tuesday

If you missed any of our past Burn Bulletins, please check out our archives.

Just a reminder to go to; click on Upcoming Events, for the latest AARBF events and activities that need your support.