Photo by Jenifer Byquist
Charred remains of a home after the Carlton Complex fire in Eastern Washington.

Band of Brothers Northwest rally Ballard restaurants for Eastern WA fire relief

On August 7, Band of Brothers Northwest, rallying Ballard restaurants to provide aid to families affected by the wildfires in Eastern Washington.

The Matador (Ballard, West Seattle, Redmond, Tacoma), Ballard Annex Oyster House and Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen donated all sales made on that day to families in need.

One hundred percent of donations received are going directly to wildfire victims through gift cards. The main goal is to help families buy essentials like food, water, and medical supplies. Depending on funds, BBNW would also like to help victim rebuild their homes.

The massive fires in the Methow Valley and large swathes of Eastern Washington have burned more than 200,000 acres and homes in Pateros, Brewster, Alta Lake have been turned to ash. Relief efforts by over 2,000 firefighters and 1,000 National Guard troops are working to restore some semblance of what was in Eastern Washington communities.

BBNW is a 501c3 tax-exempt charity based in the Pacific Northwest. Since the organization was founded in 2010, Band of Brothers NW has raised close to $1 million, and has helped thousands of individuals in the region including those who have been affected by cancer, women affected by domestic violence and homeless youth and foster children.

Chris Black, founder of BBNW said that he started the organization because he grew tired of watching tragic things happen in the region without doing anything about it.

“We are just a group of five guys getting together to do something for the community. We thought, why not all of us kick in and try to make a difference. … No, we are not the guys who are going to cure cancer, but we do what we can. …. Why can’t Seattle be a place where we all band together? We want people to be inspired,” said Black.

Black has known co-owner of Shoreline Watercraft and Boat Rental in Chelan, Jenifer Byquist, for years, and so when the fires started they connected to collaborate relief efforts.

“Jen has identified the needs over there. She’s been in the trenches and on the ground meeting people and taking pictures of the houses that have burned down. She has made it real for us.“

“Band of Brothers Northwest contacted me and asked if we wanted to partner with them and of course we wanted to and jumped aboard,” said Byquist.

“Pateros is very close to Chelan. We have a lot of family and friends there and so we just jumped on board and went down and started delivering items and things, volunteering at relief centers and filling up trucks with supplies and going house to house, giving people bottled water and Gatorade.”

Black said their efforts are going to the people that need it most.

“We don’t want the funds going to people with half-a-million dollar cabins on the river. We don’t want to rebuild that. We want it to go to the people that are struggling to make it and have lost everything.”

Byquist is friends with recently elected Pateros Mayor, Libby Harrison. Harrison resigned August 4 stating that she needs to focus on her family needs after her and her mother each lost their homes to the fires.

“It touched very close to my heart, so I will be meeting with her to find specific needs of the community not only for Pateros, but Brewster and the whole valley. We have heard there are 200 to 300 homes lost, so we want to provide for as many needs as possible,” said Byquist.

Michael "The Wanz" Wansley, the Grammy Award winning-singer of "Thrift Shop" for Macklemore showed his support by spending time at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen. "The Wanz," mingled with guests, signed autographs and took photos.

Wanz attended central Washington University for seven years and lived there for four.

“You see the clouds coming over the mountains, and all of a sudden you hear the thunder and immediately start getting afraid because you know what’s going to happen. ... Out there, because you’re surrounded by nature, things that happen in nature immediately affect you, “ said Wanz.

Wanz said he has friends outside of Ellensburg and that he has been watching the situation unravel, growing ever concerned for his friends and the people there. He said that his nephew asked him about the Band of Brothers Northwest event, and to Wanz, it was a “no-brainer.”

“ Time is the most valuable thing that we have, so if you can give your time, do it. That’s what I’m doing today. ... A community like Ballard is not unlike the community north of Ellensburg. Ballard has been a tight knit neighborhood forever."

When asked why it's important for Ballardites and Seattle as a whole to send aid, Wanz responded:

“You lead by example. Like I said, it’s a matter of time. Everybody has a life. Everybody is busy doing this that and the other thing because their time is valuable, and I’m no different; but I appreciate the area and the people enough to lend my time.’”

“ If you want to borrow a dollar it’s a lot easier to borrow a quarter from four people than it is to borrow a dollar from one. Everybody has a couple bucks they could spare. You could go without the $5 coffee for one day and have it go towards someone who has just lost everything… Every little bit helps, and it’s better to do something than nothing.”

Donations for the fire victims can still be received on the BBNW website, www.bobnw.org, or mailed to the Band of Brothers NW office at 8750 122nd Avenue Kirkland, WA 98033.

“Look around at home and then look at yourself and what you have on your person. Now take away everything but what you have on your person and think ‘that’s what those people have.’”

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.