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In Bastrop, Texas, Hope After the Fires

Residents help wildfire-devastated community — and a beloved chocolatier

Popular retiree community in Texas responds to fires

Roscar Handcrafted Chocolates was destroyed in central Texas fires. — Photos courtesy of Hendrikses

Billy and Tiffany Roberts started one such group well before the fire was contained. They called their Facebook group "Bastrop Fire — Adopt a Family," and intended it to connect people who wanted to help with families who needed it desperately. "We had almost 200 members almost immediately," says Tiffany. "But we had no families!" She called the local news stations to alert them to the project, and one aired a story about it. Suddenly, their membership numbers cleared 1,000. The Robertses, who also live in Bastrop, but whose home was spared, created a website and applied for nonprofit status. So far, they have "adopted out" more than 100 families to people who are committed to helping them through the long rebuilding process.

Chocolate once more

In spite of huge odds, Frans Hendriks plans to relaunch his business, only "bigger and better. I'm too young to go into retirement," he says. His and Roselly's days are full with discussions with his insurance company about the meaning of "replacement value," paperwork with the Small Business Administration, and meetings with adjusters and city officials.

Frans is now busy making lists: equipment to buy, ingredients to order, truffles to make. Weeks after the fire began, he's still waking up at 3 a.m., when he would normally begin his day, and wants to be ready. As soon as he has the requisite funds in hand, he believes, he can get up and running again in six or seven months. Then, he can give back to his generous community by fulfilling its need for chocolate once again.

You may also like: Volunteers who make a difference and how you can too. >>

Beth Goulart is based in Austin, Texas.

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