San Damiano in Danville hosts Camp Fire victims for holidays

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- High in the hills above Danville, the friars of the San Damiano Retreat Center opened their doors for the Camp Fire victims.

The 78-bedroom center is usually closed the week of Christmas. But this year, the friars decided to invite Camp Fire victims to come and stay. Over 40 families accepted.

Sandra Price, who came up with her husband and two kids, says the retreat is not only a much needed getaway, but it's also a time to heal from the trauma of the past few months.

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"For our family, it's a healing time right now for us. Losing our home, and business, and my office, was pretty devastating. So, this is a quiet place to heal," she says as she gets ready to take her dog for a walk.

Jeremy Feske and his family have been living in a camper since losing their home in the Camp Fire. But for the past few days, they have had their own bedrooms and a big game to hang out in and spend some time playing board games.

His 17-year-old son, Kaleb Nash, says that just being here is a nice break from the Camp Fire's constant drain on their everyday lives.

"It's just nice to have all these good things to think about, and look forward to the next day. And go and do whatever you want really," says Nash.

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They free food, free clothes and free amenities, like toiletries - all donated by local groups.

On Sunday, a nearby salon even offered free haircuts and some therapist offered free massages.

"It's amazing. Those things aren't really up in the front of the of the priority list. So to just get a haircut and take a minute to relax and a back massage was really nice," says Feske.

Much of the facility is staffed this week by over 90 volunteers, like Cher Orio, of Pleasanton. She says she and husband decided to skip a holiday vacation this year and instead spend time here.

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"My husband and I said we can't do that. We have to come here. We have to volunteer. People lost everything. It's devastating. We have to be with these people and help out," explains Orio.

Kailey Elliott is a cancer survivor, who has been in remission since July. She has two disabled children. She says that she and her husband came to San Damiano for their kids.

"(I want) to give my kids a little bit of 'normal' for Christmas. To wake up in a real bed, and have a real shower," she says. "And I really appreciate this place for doing that for us."
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