Since January 3, chef and restaurateur Hosea Rosenberg, his team at Blackbelly at 1606 Conestoga Street in Boulder, and an army of volunteers have been collecting donations for those impacted by the Boulder County fires. The donations have been distributed from the restaurant’s outdoor dining tent, which was converted into a permanent Marshall Fire Relief Center. Droves of donations have come in, including food, clothes, supplies and everything in between.
Although a number of his neighbors were impacted by the fire, Rosenberg says that a big motivator for him to jump in to help is the fact that the community has come together to sustain his family. “My wife [Lauren Feder] and I started our foundation [Sophie’s Neighborhood] two years ago when we were given the unfortunate diagnosis of our daughter’s ultra-scarce disease, MCTO,” he explains. “The local community really showed up to help us out, and we felt this would be a wonderful way to give back.”
Unfortunately, on the morning of January 10, Rosenberg and his team opened the tent and found their own mini-disaster. Donation tables and displays had been ransacked, the back wall of the tent had been cut open, and many items had been stolen. Volunteers who had been working for days to organize and stock the relief tent were disheartened to see their hard work ruined. recently prepared food was spilled all over the floor.
Families that lost everything had been coming to this tent for warm clothes, food and basic comforts, and for those volunteering their time, this had been the most rewarding experience of their lives, Rosenberg says. To see someone come in and deliberately destroy and steal from a truly wholesome endeavor was heartbreaking.
“I was clearly upset,” he adds. “The most upsetting part of all is that this tent is set up to give away food, clothing and supplies for those in need. The front door was zipped up and could easily be opened. If someone is in need — in spite of of if they have been affected by the fires or not — we will happily give them in any case they want. They don’t need to make a huge mess, cut the tent walls and steal. They just need to ask.”
Luckily, the Blackbelly team is resilient. They shook it off, cleaned up and got back to supporting their community, and will continue to do so until January 14 at 5 p.m.
“We’ve had a lot more good than bad happen over here [at Blackbelly] this past week,” Rosenberg wrote in an Instagram post, “and I don’t want anyone to think we’ve given up on humanity!”
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