Members of Santa Rosa choir practice for an upcoming concert in San Francisco City Hall.

'Little Shangri-La' Shut After Tubbs Fire, But Choir Holds Residents Together

Jenna Lane
October 16, 2018 - 10:03 am

SANTA ROSA — It's been just over a year since the Tubbs Fire destroyed most of the Journey's End mobile home park in Santa Rosa, killing two residents and leaving more than 150 others in limbo. Even those whose homes were saved can not return, because the landowner has shut down the park.

"I never felt alone when I lived there," former resident Yvonne Rawhouser said.

She bought a single-wide in Journey's End more than 30 years ago. 

"I could just step outside, and go over to Judy's and have a cup of coffee, or go by and see Gracie, or go down to the pool, or hang out in the clubhouse, or go to the paperback library," said Rawhouse. "It was just like a little Shangri-La. I always felt it was this little treasure. People just saw the dustiness and the name."

Jenny Yao first heard of Journey's End two days after the Tubbs Fire erupted when she arrived in Santa Rosa as a volunteer with the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist relief organization. 

"Here's all seniors, low-income, a lot of them with serious medical conditions," Yao said. "Cancers, renal failures, heart disease, you name it."

Tzu Chi Foundation's commitment to Journey's End goes beyond disaster relief. Yao and other volunteers have come every day for the last year, organizing activities like a choir and acting as case managers for more than 150 displaced residents like Rawhouser.

"Between the evacuation and when I found the little place I'm in now, I was at 11 different places," Rawhouser said "I'm in a little bungalow on Sonoma Avenue. It's very sweet, but it's not my home. It's not my forever home. I feel like a pound pet right now. I want my forever home."

While she and her former neighbors wait, they sing in the choir, rehearsing for a December performance in San Francisco City Hall. 

They are still deciding what to call the choir, maybe Grace Notes. Another possible name is Journey's Beginning.