A helping hand

Alison Adams holds a photo in her home in Keene on Thursday morning of the final kindergarten class she had at Monarch PK-8 School in Louisville, Colo. She then taught at Flagstaff Academy charter school in Longmont, Colo., before moving  back to New Hampshire in 2020. Adams noted that 19 of the 25 students in the photo lost their homes in the recent Colorado fires. 

From 2,000 miles away, Alison Adams has watched as her former neighbors, friends and colleagues begin to rebuild their lives in the wake of a devastating wildfire. And she’s ready to help.

On Dec. 30, Adams received a text from a friend in Boulder, Colo., that strong winds were blowing a fire toward Superior — the small town that Adams called home just two years ago. Less than five minutes later, a second text came in: The entire town was being evacuated.

The communities of Louisville and Superior were ravaged by the Marshall Fire, which ripped across more than 6,000 acres, destroying nearly 1,000 homes and damaging hundreds of others.

At her home in Keene a week later, Adams had her laptop open on her kitchen island, where it streamed updates about the fire’s devastation. Dressed in a hoodie reading, “Colorado Grown with New Hampshire Roots,” she had spent the morning like she had every day since receiving those texts — watching local Colorado news outlets, checking in with people, sharing resources to social media. She guessed she spends anywhere from six to eight hours on her phone.

For 18 years, Adams taught kindergarten at Monarch PK-8 in Louisville, she said, and in that time connected with hundreds of students and families — connections she continues to hold dear while living on the East Coast.

Over the past several days, Adams has been collecting gift cards to provide immediate aid to families. As of Thursday, she had collected more than $1,000 in cards, which she mailed in batches to Colorado.

Adams is encouraging anyone who would like to contribute to send cards directly to the school at 263 Campus Drive, Louisville, CO, 80027.

Roughly 10 miles east of Boulder with a population of about 18,000, Louisville and neighboring Superior is a tight-knit community, she said.

“These are houses that we had Super Bowl parties in and we ate dinner at and we gathered,” Adams said while flipping through photos of the fire’s aftermath on her phone. “I mean, our community was so close that we would celebrate all the holidays together, our kids grew up together.”

On Thursday, she pulled out a big framed photo of the last group she taught, the class of 2018. Of those 25 students, 19 had lost their homes in the fire, she said.

She listed off others who had lost everything, including the school principal she worked with for more than 10 years and nearly all her former neighbors on El Dorado Drive.

Adams grew up in Jaffrey and is an alumna of Keene State College. She and her husband, Scott, moved out West in the ’90s and called Colorado home for more than two decades.

The couple moved back to the Monadnock Region in 2020, and though they haven’t called the Elm City home for very long, Adams said she’s been moved by the way friends and neighbors have stepped up to help.

“It’s amazing how just even being here for a short period of time how thoughtful the community is and how much they want to support,” Adams said.

She’s planning to fly out to her Colorado community — with toys in tow for kids — on Tuesday. In the meantime, she’s been keeping tabs on what families have lost: Junior Ranger badges, sentimental letters, the crayon sketches and those drawings that you can just tell bled the marker dry. (As a kindergarten teacher, Adams herself was on the receiving end of plenty of such artwork — some of which she’s saved and plans to return to the original artists’ families who lost all those childhood artifacts in the fire.)

But as she scrolls through social media and connects with members of her community, she celebrates what survived: a grandfather’s trunk from World War II, mail left unscathed in a mailbox, and the schools remain standing.

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.