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In 2010, Andrea Golod of Superior, Colorado, had to suddenly evacuate when a residential fire tore through her condo complex.

“That created a pretty traumatic event for our family,” she says. “For years, I had nightmares.”

So when a devastating wildfire swept through her county in 2021 — destroying homes and displacing thousands of people — Golod could relate to what people were experiencing. 

“Even just as it was still unfolding in front of me, I knew the emotional impact of what everyone was about to encounter,” she says. “And I knew that it was going to happen on a really large scale.”

So to support fire victims, she helped establish a free art therapy workshop program. It’s funded by Friday Health Plans, the company she works for. 

In the workshops, licensed therapists use art-making as a way to help children and adults process their experiences.

As intense wildfires grow more common with climate change, more people will live through the trauma of fleeing flames and losing their homes. 

Golod says it’s important that those harmed by fire can access mental health resources to help them cope and begin to heal.

“I hadn’t done that for my fire and I should have,” she says. “It helps people move forward.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media