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Azusa Pacific University Students Aid Fire Victims

Azusa Pacific University continues to reach out and partner with Paradise Rise! to help the people of Paradise, California recover and rebuild after the devastating Camp Fire.

It has been almost eleven months since California’s deadliest wildfire struck the tiny town of Paradise claiming the lives of 85 people and decimating the town. As residents pick up the pieces, Azusa Pacific University and their partners hope to help the people of Paradise rise!

After hearing of the devastation that the 153,226 acre fire caused, members of the Azusa Pacific Murrieta Psychology Club decided to immediately take the lead and see how they could assist the town, which was almost entirely destroyed in the fire. “We just felt like we needed to do something,” Azusa Pacific Psychology Faculty L. Paul Bernard said. “We wanted to do something more than just local. We wanted to help the people of Paradise. But we knew that this was too big a task for one group, so we had to partner with others to have the maximum impact. Together, we can do so much more than we could ever do alone.”

An initiative called, “Paradise Rise!” was born out of Bernard’s desire to help those who lost their homes and businesses in the blaze, and now Azusa Pacific University, in partnership with TEN27 Church, Neighborhood Church in Chico, and Paradise Alliance Church, plan to do just that through a second collaborative outreach trip.

The first successful trip in February 2019 saw a team of 50 APU students and TEN27 Church members who partnered together to help families who lost their homes in Paradise to help clear rubble, sort through charred remains for anything salvageable.

“The families need us, so the idea is to partner students with different community members to help them to begin to really rebuild, refresh and restore what they lost,” Bernard said.

Bernard said financial support is key so the group can go to Paradise and work with those community members without being a drain on the town’s limited resources.

Currently the group is looking for financial assistance to send another team of 50 volunteers to Paradise from November 22 to 26, where they will help to clear brush and build storage sheds on home sites in preparation for home rebuilding.

All donations, which can be given online through the website,, are tax deductible and will go directly to the Paradise Rise! collaborative partnership with Azusa Pacific University.

“If anyone has any contacts or ideas of corporations who may want to get involved or companies who might be interested in financing part of the operation, that would be appreciated as well,” Bernard said.

Bernard said he expected that Paradise Rise! would be sending groups once or twice a year to help residents of Paradise as they recover from the fire. “With Azusa Pacific University’s commitment to making a difference through service, this is exactly the kind of thing our students should be doing!”

Visit for more information or to make a donation. For more information on Azusa Pacific University and its programs in Murrieta, visit

Written by Dr. Drake Levasheff

Drake Levasheff, PhD, Senior Director, Murrieta Regional Campus Azusa Pacific University.

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