Ritter said although the parish events and resources are meant to provide help for anyone, and are not being particularly marketed to the undocumented, it is clear that "the parish provides a safer place for people who would have concerns going directly to FEMA, or for people who FEMA wouldn't be able to help."
"What the Church does offer is help for anyone who needs help, and whether one's documented or not is not a question," he said.
"Our strength, particularly as a parish, is the human element in terms of meeting people and empathy, and our effort to be present...It really is incredible to be a witness to some of the great solidarity that we're seeing. This has definitely changed the culture of Butte County."
Outside of Chico, the small California city of Paradise was almost completely destroyed by the fire. Nearly all the buildings belonging to St. Thomas More Parish succumbed to the blaze.
Jim Collins, leader of relief efforts at the parish, said volunteers have set up a call center to contact parishioners who are still unaccounted for. As of last week, the volunteers had made contact with just twenty percent of the parish list; the rest were unaccounted for, or had likely lost their landline service in the fire.
"We have an expectation of about 80% [of our 800 parishioners] burned out of their homes, and maybe 20% [of their homes] still standing," Collins told CNA. "About 80% across the board have lost everything."
"What we'd like to do now is to direct donations to those most in need, so we worked out kind of a triage to identify those most in need who would normally be those who did not own homes, who were living in rentals that were totally destroyed, and have no insurance compensation coming," Collins said.
"And also those living in trailers or trailer parks, and that's a substantial number of our parishioners because it's kind of a low-income area up in Paradise."
Ritter said that ongoing support will be important for people in communities like Paradise.
Although there is generally "a huge and very emotional" outpouring of support for victims of a disaster within the first 48 hours, he said, resources will still be needed in six months or a year after the fire.
While individuals and corporations have made generous donations in response to the disaster, "my big ask for people is not to lose that enthusiasm because we're talking about many months or even years for a real recovery here," he said.
(Story continues below)
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"The need for aid is going to be just as real [six months or a year from now] as it is now."