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Mike Richman


A Time to Be Thankful

Whether close at hand or far afield, gratitude surrounds us

Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 13:03

This Thursday, for the first Thanksgiving in decades, I won’t be watching football, drinking beer, and stuffing myself into oblivion. Instead, I’ll be serving the homeless, giving clothes, and making myself useful.

Thanksgiving is always a time to give thanks—I mean, it’s right there in the holiday’s name. This year, however, for those of us in northern California, the act of being grateful has taken on previously unimaginable dimensions.

For those of you who don’t know, Quality Digest’s studio and office are in the city of Chico, about 75 miles north of Sacramento. More pertinently, we’re fewer than 10 miles from Paradise, which, as of Nov. 8, 2018, was home to 27,000 residents, including three members of the QD team—editorial director Taran March, account manager Christopher Martin, and our close partner Chris Smith, owner of Rocketspots.tv and producer of our video content. A fourth, editor Laurel Thoennes, lived in one of the canyons just off the ridge on which Paradise sat.

On that terrible morning two weeks ago, as the Camp Fire roared to life a dozen miles northeast of Paradise and tore its way through matchstick-dry woodlands toward the town, Taran, Christopher, Chris, and Laurel all were forced to evacuate their dwellings, in some cases just minutes ahead of the flames. They all made it out safely; Christopher and Chris, unfortunately, are now confirmed to have lost their homes, but we’re hoping that the damage for Taran and Laurel will be minimal. No one will be sure until they’re allowed to return, which could still be some time away. Quality Digest is helping our people as best we can, offering some shelter, food, and other resources, but the needs are great and ongoing. We’ve therefore started a GoFundMe page to assist them, so if you’d like to help, please consider contributing.

So, first and foremost, I’m thankful that my co-workers, family, and friends all made it out of Paradise alive. Many, many others were not as fortunate, and our sense of sorrow over so much loss is depthless and overwhelming.

I’m thankful for QD’s owners, Jeff Dewar and Kristine Bammert, who performed emotional triage from afar, standing like rocks for us all to lean on during this tragedy.

I offer thanks to the rest of my co-workers: Dirk Dusharme, April Johnson, and Ryan Day, all of whom stepped up to keep our ship and our spirits afloat during the darkest hours of the fire. I can’t forget to give additional thanks to Taran, Laurel, Christopher, and Chris for checking in, letting us know they were OK, and quickly picking back up on day-to-day tasks even though we neither asked nor expected them to.

I don’t want to speak for my colleagues, but I believe there are a couple of reasons for this. First, the value of routine is not to be underestimated—getting back to work is healing. Also, and perhaps even more important, we’re all committed to our company, our mission, and you, our readers. Each of you does critically important work, not only in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, etc., but in fields like municipal management and emergency services, too. Your focus on developing quality processes ensure value, reliability, and safety for those of us doing mundane things like buying cars or picking up prescriptions; during the worst of our days, with Nov. 8 as only the most recent example, your ability to plan for the blackest of black swans saves lives. So thank you for your tremendous personal commitment to quality.

We could not fulfill our mission to the readers without the support of our advertisers. Quality Digest provides news, columns, special reports, case studies, white papers, webinars, videos, and other content free of charge (thanks as well to our wonderful writers and contributors), and that’s only possible because our marketing partners cover our various production costs and expenses. To each one, I offer thanks for allowing us to do our jobs to the utmost of our ability.

Oh, and by the way, many of our readers, advertisers, writers, and strategic partners have contributed to a variety of relief efforts helping the victims of the fire, of which our GoFundMe is but one of many. Thank you for that.

It’s sad but true that it often takes tragedies to make us appreciate our civil servants and community leaders. Our local firefighters, police officers, EMTs, nurses, doctors, clergy, and social workers have done double duty these past few weeks in assisting those who most need support, whether they are individuals fleeing Paradise or people here in Chico rendering aid and assistance. We must remember to be grateful for these amazing people all the time, but most especially during crises.

I’m also very much appreciative of the army of administrators, lawmakers, and politicians across the political spectrum who have rushed in to help our little corner of the world. The Paradise mayor and council, Chico mayor and council, Butte County supervisors, state senators and assemblypeople, Congressman Douglas LaMalfa, Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, and President Donald Trump have been on the scene and lent their support. We live, of course, in a divided and divisive nation in which politics often feels like a blood sport, but it’s nice to know that elected officials have your back regardless of whether you voted for them or not.

Disaster relief is a difficult job requiring a multitude of skills. The people at FEMA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Way, the Humane Society, and many others are here on the scene lending both immediate and long-term assistance. Many thanks to these wonderful people and those that help fund them.

Finally, I give thanks to the countless ordinary people—strangers—who have sent clothing, money, or just kind words and prayers to us over these past two weeks. You can’t possibly know how good that feels until something like this happens to your area, and I fervently hope I never have to return the favor to yours. Please keep checking in with us and assessing needs; events like this require assistance for many months, and the victims of the Camp Fire will sadly need help until well into 2019.

As we enter another holiday season and prepare to turn the page on 2018, it’s worth remembering the lesson that so many of us here in northern California recently relearned—that nothing is truly irreplaceable except people. There are countless things to be thankful for in our lives this Thanksgiving. I will choose to be grateful for that small reminder, and the understanding that love and support are always ours for the choosing, both right here and far away. So thank you. Thank you all.


About The Author

Mike Richman’s picture

Mike Richman


You are a great example of humanity

Mike, I am thankful you spent your time doing good for others. Sorry your team had so much misfortune. You all are great examples of what we humans can be if we try.


Thanks Richard,

The thing that stands out the most at times like this is that rich or poor, blue or red, liberal or conservative, when push comes to shove all those differences go out the window and everybody does what they can to help. The response to all the evacuees from the Camp Fire has been.... beyond words. The things we have seen people, small business, large businesses, do has been amazing. People are people and we need to help each other... we do.