It was with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that I read JP’s story of the retirement of Edwina Scott, our long-time executive director of the MCFSC. The Fire Safe Council could not have become the powerhouse organization it is without her.
When we formed the council with members of the community in 2001, our goals were small: to educate the community about the fire danger and reducing fuel on their property. We were fortunate enough to have volunteers from Idyllwild and Pine Cove who were aware of the hazards we faced in the forest and who set to work clearing properties and parts of the forest of undergrowth and some dead trees with mine and kay’s own shovels, axes and chain saws.
After Kay [Ceniceros] secured nonprofit status as a 501(c)(3) and we affiliated with the California Fire Safe Council, we got a startup grant from the CFSC to rent office space and hire an executive director. The grant wasn’t large enough to pay a good salary, but Edwina took the job anyway. She was worth at least twice as much.
Soon she was getting us grants from the U.S. Forest Service through the CFSC. Thanks to Edwina and the hard work of MCFSC board and members, word of our work soon spread throughout the fire agencies locally and at the state level.
As Edwina secured more grants, the council was able to expand operations, eventually buying a truck and a shredder. Norm Walker was absolutely correct in saying, “Edwina has been the backbone of MCFSC for a long time.”
One year, the CFSC was given $1 million; Edwina had applied for and we were awarded $800,000 of that money for our most ambitious fuel reduction project that year. MCFSC’s efforts were recognized.
Kay is in the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, but I know if she were aware, she would join me in wishing Edwina well deserved happiness in retirement and our undying gratitude for her devotion to the Fire Safe Council and the community.
Blair Ceniceros