Resident’s positive attitude endeared him to shelter workers
By Mauri Shuler
Jamie Rosales lives in Oakmont, one of the Santa Rosa neighborhoods devastated by the wildfires. His neighbor woke him up at 1 a.m. Monday. They were told to leave and found a Red Cross shelter through word-of-mouth.
“I was scared when I first arrived at the shelter because I didn’t know what would happen here,” Jamie said. “I didn’t bring much with me. Now after 10 days here, I’m having the adventure of my life because of these people. They treat me with respect, respect, respect. They are always willing to help, almost to excess,” he added with a big laugh.
Jamie, one of 5 children, has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches, yet lives alone independently. “It is my sense of humor and determination that get me through.”
“Since I was born, my mother didn’t know how to handle my disability, so I went to a handicapped school in San Francisco. I learned how to take a bus alone, which scared my mother. Through that, though, I developed a sense of independence and it never stopped.
Since arriving at the shelter, Jamie has become especially close with the night crew. “These people are now my family and always will be.”
The Red Cross staff became so fond of Jamie that when they learned his birthday was coming up, they threw him a surprise party. “It was awesome,” he said. “Cake and gifts and love, who could ask for anything more?”
“This tragic fire happened for a reason. It led me to these people, and that’s amazing.”
Jamie has no shortage of advice for anyone who wants to know why his attitude is so positive. “Whatever comes your way, laugh in the face of adversity. It is mandatory. And laugh a lot.”
The Red Cross is now part of Jamie’s life adventure and a chapter he will never forget.
“It’s the people you meet along the way who make you strong,” he said. “These people will be in my heart forever. The love was unending.”
Jamie will stay in the shelter until the road reopens to his home.
Lori Wilson and Jim Burns provided editorial support for this story.