The Beertown Comedy Group had always planned to hold an end-of-year roast to laugh away the pitfalls of 2017. They hadn't planned to donate the proceeds from the event to the Red Cross, but that's exactly what happened. At the start of production, comedy club member Cody Parr learned his friend and fellow comedian, Jake Woodmansee and his family had been affected by a fire in their home. They were assisted, as so many other people are after a fire, by the Red Cross.
The fire occurred on November 28, 2017. Jake and his family were at home when their furnace caught fire. Jake smelled burning plastic and immediately rushed to alert everyone about the fire. Then Jake ran downstairs to grab their fire extinguisher, but the fire had become too big. At that point, Jake could only escape from the home and call 911. Everyone made it out safely, fleeing the fire as quickly as they could.
“I ran outside in my shorts and the boys were in fuzzy onesies," Jake said, laughing. "They were the best dressed out of all of us.”
The first responders offered to get the family in touch with the Red Cross. Initially, Jake was hesitant; he believed they had all their basic needs taken care of. The family had arranged to stay at a family friend's home. After a few deep breaths and a minute to collect himself, Jake realized how much assistance they would need to get back on their feet. He called the Red Cross.
Two local Red Cross responders soon arrived.
“They were incredibly sweet and so calm,” Jake said. “It was nice to talk to someone.”
The Red Cross responders provided food, clothing, toiletry items and toys for the children to help address the immediate basic needs of the family. They also gave the family information about available services that would help them during the recovery process.
The next day, Jake told his story to his friends. When Jake mentioned the Red Cross, Cody remembered another friend of his who had recently been helped by the organization following a home fire. He realized how many people in his life had been affected by a fire in their home and how the Red Cross was helping.
“That for me put it over the top," Cody said. "I knew I wanted to help the Red Cross.”
The comedy team launched back into production, unanimously deciding that all proceeds from the night would be donated to the Red Cross in Jake’s name.
“You have impacted our community of comedians directly,” Cody said. “You help others. We loved seeing that, and we are very big on giving back to the community. We wanted to give back by making people feel good through our jokes and goofiness, and thought we should take the money we earned and give it to the Red Cross.”
The night of the event was the most successful show the team presented all year. In the show, the year 2017 was re-imagined as “Back to the Future” with Jake playing Marty McFly who was decked out in a puffy red vest and old school sneakers. Marty came from 2045 to warn the audience about events coming in the year 2018. Local businesses sponsored the evening and items were donated for a raffle. By the end of the night the group had reached their goal: double the amount of assistance Jake’s family had received from the Red Cross to pay it forward to the next family in need.
Since the fire, Jake and his family have continued rebuilding their lives. Recently, the adults re-tiled their home’s floors, and the children spent their Easter holiday finding eggs and toys hidden in the backyard.
“Thank you to the Red Cross, not only for all your help, but for your continued attention," Jake said. "Without your support we would not be this far along in getting back to normal.”
Please join Jake and Cody along with the Red Cross at our Sound the Alarm event in Madras on Saturday, May 5. We will be meeting at the Jefferson County Fire Department #1, located at 765 SE 5th St., Madras, OR 97741. A presentation will be given from 9 to 10 a.m., and then smoke alarms will be installed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The event is free. We hope to see you there!