California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Ventura County hosts Thomas Fire benefit concert

    Ventura County hosted a benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire the state of California has seen. On Saturday, Feb. 3 at Plaza Park in Ventura, famous musicians and well-known chefs donated their time and talents to put on a day-long festival with live music, food and drinks.

    Ventura County Community Foundation was one of many local Ventura foundations that partnered up in order to make this concert possible. Their role was to distribute the money raised among the hundreds of people who have lost their homes. President and CEO Vanessa Batel said that 100 percent of the proceeds would go directly to people who have been affected by the fires.

    California Lutheran University junior and lifetime Ventura resident Morgan Towner is one of those people. The fire burned down her motherโ€™s apartment building, taking family photos, valuable jewelry and most of her motherโ€™s possessions along with it.

    โ€œI was really sad. I was really shocked too because I couldnโ€™t understand or comprehend anything because I was in Sweden. I really wanted to be home to be there for my family, but I couldnโ€™t,โ€ Towner said.

    Towner kept up with the fires from the other side of the world as she was finishing up her fall study abroad semester in Sweden. She said the scariest part was not knowing whether her family or friends were O.K.

    โ€œThere was a handful of [my friends] who got their houses taken away too, so it was pretty sad because we all grew up in those houses,โ€ Towner said.

    However, Towner kept a positive outlook on the situation, saying that she was happy to see how much closer her community became because of the fire. She said that her friends, her family and her community have been a huge support to her mother and everyone else affected.

    โ€œMy mom had all of her friendsโ€™ clothes on today, like she doesnโ€™t have any of her clothes except two outfits, so itโ€™s really cool because she gets to wear what her friends have given her and what people have helped her with,โ€ Towner said.

    Towner was one out of many people who attended the sold-out benefit concert. Before she attended the event, she said, โ€œIt will be a really fun night, just being able to have smiles and laughs because people have gone through a hard time, so it will be cool to listen to more stories and talk about how people have been doing. Iโ€™m really excited.โ€

    Among those who performed were country rock group Kevin Costner and the Modern West, actor and singer Olivia Newton-John, singer-songwriter Colbie Callait, rapper Super Duper KYLE and swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. VIP ticket holders had access to unlimited wine and craft beer samplings and gourmet foods prepared by both local and Michelin-rated chefs.

    This festival is just one more step forward to recover from the victimsโ€™ losses. Despite her own losses, Towner remains positive and hopeful.

    โ€œEverybodyโ€™s thinking about it in the most positive way. It is sad, but itโ€™s not at the same time because weโ€™re all in this together as a community,โ€ Towner said.

    Brooke Stanley