Santa Barbara resident and author Barbara Gaughen-Muller experienced these emotions as unstoppable fires raged for weeks throughout her community, only to be shortly followed by a wave of deadly mudslides. The ash on her patio, just 10 miles from the Montecito flames, was 2 inches thick, and the air quality was so poor that it was unsafe to venture outside without a mask. While grateful that her home was ultimately spared from the destruction, Barbara strove to help others cope with their trauma and loss, offering healing to those in shelters, hotels, and on the streets by just being present, willing to listen and assist.
Something unexpected emerged from this horrible situation: peace. As she handed out safety masks, listened to her neighbors’ stories of trauma, and offered a simple “I am so sorry” to those who were suffering, Gaughen-Muller offered comfort and peace to those who lost their homes and loved ones. Her actions and the kindness of those around her encouraged others to do the same, which ultimately brought the community closer together during a trying time where many needed support.
Gaughen-Muller, who is President of the United Nations Association, Santa Barbara Tri-County chapter and won the Spirit of the U.N. award, is available to discus