The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Things they lost in the fire

Alexandra Fishback and her dog, Lando (after the character from Star Wars). Photo courtesy Alexandra Fishback
Alexandria Fishback and her dog Lando. Photos courtesy Alexandra Fishback

Driving back home to Auburn from San Diego, City College dental hygiene major Alexandria Fishback received a call that would change her life forever.

“I got a phone call from my mom saying there was a fire by our house and my grandpa and my dog were evacuated,” Fishback casually explained. “My grandpa called my grandma and said that the house was gone … burned down.”

Fishback, who lived with her grandparents, unfortunately lost her home to the Aug. 30 fire in Auburn, now thought to be the result of arson. Dozens of homes were lost. Pictures show a vehicle completely charred in what was once a garage, layers of ash surround a heavily burned dishwasher and a spot where a home once sat is now an empty concrete foundation.

“The day after it happened, I was here [at City College],” Fishback said. “I found that going to school helped me not think about what had happened, just going to school kept me motivated.”

Dressed in navy blue scrubs and white Crocs, Fishback blends in among all the hopeful dental hygiene students.

“It’s been hard,” Fishback said. “Hygiene school is a tough program anyways.”

Not having a house, a car or clothes made it even more difficult.

“Anything that comforts you is completely gone,” she said. “It’s just made a hard program even harder.”

Once the dental hygiene faculty heard about Fishback’s situation, they joined together and donated school supplies and even money to help her buy new scrubs. They also contacted the City College Foundation to see what could be done to help Fishback continue her education this semester.

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Fishback's house after the fires.
Fishback's grandparent's house after the fires.

The foundation provides scholarships and mini-grants to students, faculty, and programs on campus through the Annual Fund. When a student’s situation is dire, the foundation’s Student Emergency Fund can help provide essentials needed to help keep students in school.

“We were able to pay for her textbooks and other things that she had lost in the fire,” Mary Leland, executive director of the City College Foundation said. “The Student Emergency Fund is very focused on specific needs that have to be fairly dramatic because of a limited pull from the Annual Fund. It’s important that we continue to build our Annual Fund and I hope we can get students to give back while they’re here.”

The money that makes up the Annual Fund is a combination of donations and brick sales. According to Leland, every cent of the Annual Fund goes out to the students and last year, the foundation was able to give away $113,000 to students.

“The foundation had stuff for me in a day or two, it was really fast,” Fishback explained. “I didn’t even realize they had emergency funds for anything like this. My faculty really helped me out and all the people at the foundation, it was a really pleasant surprise to see everyone band together to try to help me get back on my feet.”

Fishback cleans friend Rebecca Mudd's teeth at the City College dental office.
Fishback cleans friend Rebecca Mudd's teeth at the City College dental office.

Fishback is in her last year in the dental hygiene program along with friend, Yulonda Dodd, who gives Fishback a ride to and from school.

“She‘s just one of my really good friends. When this happened to her I just wanted to be there for her in any way that I could,” said Dodd, 31. “I pick her up, take her home and help her run her errands. I just want her to get through the program and finish since we’re almost done.”

Since the fire, Fishback’s grandparents have been renting a house about a mile away from the house that was lost.

“Last year, I had gone to the foundation to try to find a scholarship for dental hygiene students and I met Mary Leland and then this year they were able to help me,” Fishback explained. “Once I graduate and start working, I would love to participate in some of their funds to help other people because they have helped me so much.”

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