It is with great pride that I introduce you to our sister, Erin Kiefer Frye, Gamma Eta-San Jose State. Erin is a champion who clearly confirms that Delta Gamma is for life and that Delta Gamma extends way beyond our wonderful collegiate experience.
Erin was chapter president, held numerous chapter offices and upon graduation became the Advisory Team Chairman for Gamma Eta, in addition to serving on the house corporation. Erin was also a member of the Silicon Valley alumnae chapter.
In 2010, Erin met her husband Mike. In 2011, Erin and Mike moved to Paradise, CA ready to start working on a business that they built from the ground up with the cash in their pockets. Working 60-80 hours a week at their business, Precision Auto Werks, they put their heart and soul into growing their business. In 2013, they married, the business grew, and in 2016 they welcomed little Jacob into their busy but happy world.
Business was good and they were ready to continue growing their family.
Then, on November 8, their world turned upside down when the wildfires hit Paradise.
In Erin’s words...
"We woke up thinking it was a normal Thursday. I went to let our dog out and noticed the sky looked smoky and gloomy. Our home was next door to our business. I caught the attention of one of our co-workers and he acknowledged there was a fire but didn’t know where it was. As I went back inside to tell my husband, Mike was already running down the stairs saying the fire was in the orchard behind his mother’s house, which was on the other side of town. Without hesitation, he took our van with the baby’s car seat assuming his mother would evacuate first. I was directed to pack and he would be back home. Within the hour, the sky went from gray to pink to orange to bright red. You could see trees and debris flying and the ash was the size of golf balls.
I had enough time to pack a small bag for Jacob along with two small suitcases of clothes and personal items for Mike and me. I grabbed our emergency cash from the safe, along with our passports, birth certificates, marriage license and car titles. I kept checking in with our co-workers who were preparing to leave themselves. We called customers who had vehicles at our shop in case they needed to come and get their cars…and as I went back inside to pack more, I heard a loud boom and our house shook."
"One co-worker waited to see if I could get a hold of Mike. I finally got through and Mike told me to get out of the house. Mike’s car was a manual shift and I did not have another car seat so luckily my co-worker took me, Jacob and our dog Kahlua to safety in Chico. Mike was to come back to the house to get our bags, computer etc. and the dog; but because I was able to fit the dog in the car, I had to leave behind our bags and personal items. Mike never made it back. He was stuck gridlocked in traffic uptown. Mike was directed to vacate the vehicle and go to a nearby parking lot to wait out the fire. Mike and his mother were there for hours. All we could do was witness the flames all around us and watch the fire move in every direction. Thankfully, Jacob was only two and he thought seeing all the fire, trucks, police cars and ambulances was magical. I am thankful whatever memory he has of that day was not of fear. I went to my sister-in law’s house in Chico where we just sat and prayed and waited."
The final hours…
"One of our co-workers managed to make it back to our property and ran into our house and grabbed the bags I left by the door for Mike. Mike finally made it to us around 7 p.m. I will never forget the look on his face when he walked through the door. He was covered in ash and smelled of smoke and his eyes were weary. Just when we thought we were safe and could relax, within the hour the area we were in was under evacuation warning, so we packed up and fled to my parent’s house in El Dorado Hills.
The following day it was confirmed that we lost our business and home.
'Vaporized' was the term they used."
The days after…
"The days following were a blur. I couldn’t go an hour without breaking down and crying. We have allowed ourselves time to grieve and know it will be a long healing process. Some days are harder than others. We are just trying our best to navigate our “New Normal”. We have not been able to go back to our property yet so all we have seen are pictures of what is left. We anxiously anticipate getting to go back bringing closure to our life."
Bringing Hope to our sister through a Delta Gamma Foundation Anchor Grant…
"I look back at my time as a Delta Gamma with many fond memories. So much of my professional career has been shaped by my collegiate experience and I am proud to be a Delta Gamma. Everyone I know, knows my love for DG! And here I am, at my lowest, and my Delta Gamma sisters are the ones lifting me up and proving that in all times, especially in times of trouble, they are here for me.“
Hope begins with you…
Through the Anchor Grant program, we have given close to one half million dollars to collegiate and alumnae sisters in critical lifetime situations. However, all the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile that you have helped put on the face of a sister in need. You have made the Delta Gamma world a better place by lifting the spirits of these sisters, giving them Hope and precious energy to re-build their lives.
Thank you for trusting your heart. Together we bring HOPE to others.
“We are actively looking for a new place to call home for ourselves…We have a lot of thinking to do as to where will be the best place for our family and do not want to make any rash decisions. In the next few weeks, we are preparing to start the clean-up process of our home and business.
We were finally able to get back to our property right before Christmas. I wasn't ready to dig and look for stuff but I did find a piece of my China set and when I picked it up I noticed my purple wine glasses all melted together. I moved them and underneath it buried in the debris was a heart bowl my mother had recently given me for my birthday. It was a sign for me that I didn't need to dig any further."
Erin, feel the Delta Gamma love we are sending your way.