Thank You Firefighters

HAPPY HOLIDAY BLESSINGS to all of our MCLA family & friends. Please help us celebrate our amazing firefighters who have done such an incredible job for all of us. Click here for the Woolsey & Paradise Firefighters Healing Fund. We are ALL so grateful and have so many blessings to appreciate and be thankful for during this special season. Please help us honor and support the Firefighters Healing Fund.

PARADISE, California (AP) — A powerful wildfire in Northern California incinerated most of a town of about 30,000 people with flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do, authorities said Friday. Nine people died, including five who were found in their burned-out vehicles. Only a day after it began, the blaze near Paradise, CA., had grown to nearly 110 square miles and was burning completely out of control.

MCLA’s beloved and sacred Gindling Hilltop Camp was totally and completely burned to the ground as the Woolsey fire roared through the hills over Malibu and the Pacific Ocean destroying everything in sight.

Deadliest Wildfires in California History

by Bill Arena
MCLA Wisdom Council


For those of us fortunate enough to settle down and relax with family and friends and loved ones and watch football and eat sumptuously and joyously celebrate Thanksgiving in the warmth, safety and comfort of our homes, we must remember that virtually hundreds of people are still missing right now in the wake of ferocious, deadly, apocalyptic wildfires that have been rampaging uncontrollably across both ends of California.

This month’s catastrophic and calamitous fires, the most destructive in our state’s history, include the Woolsey fire that literally exploded through the hills above Malibu completely destroying MCLA’s long-time men’s retreat and sacred sanctuary spot on the mountain, our beloved Gindling Hilltop Camp. Click here for Dr. Johnson’s powerful and soulful reflection of this terrible tragedy that has affected all of us: ”Gindling: Phoenix Rising From the Ashes”

The monstrous blazes that ignited earlier this month have claimed a total of 82 lives while laying waste to an area of nearly 400 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials said that only 64 of the remains have been positively identified so far.

The vast majority of the deaths -- 79 total -- were due to the Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, making it the deadliest and most destructive wildland fire in the California history. The number of people missing or unaccounted for in Butte County was up to 1,202 on Sunday but decreased to 699 on Monday night as the list of accounted individuals increased, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.

LA County Fire Captains and FIREFIGHTERS DOWN co-founders Rick Brandelli (left) and Mike Henry (right) gather with local Malibu resident and actor Lou Gossett Jr., who spoke at the organization’s special event at Pepperdine University on Sept. 11th . . . (Photo by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media)


“Our firefighters do their jobs so well and we take them for granted,” said Malibu resident and famed actor Lou Gossett Jr., honored guest speaker at a special September 11 event benefiting Firefighters Down.

“We are unaware of the atrocities that they see. They only ask us to get out of the way so they can do their jobs. Every single person in America is protected by them.”

The event featured a touching and beautifully shot film depicting the horrors that firefighters encounter each day, as well as the unique challenges firefighters encountered on Sept. 11, 2001. In the film, Captain Henry converses with everyday citizens eliciting their thoughts on the emotional challenges that firefighters encounter and the ripple effects their sometimes haunting, stressful experiences have on those they love as well as their colleagues.

“When there is a collapse, a crush, an injury, a death or an illness, Firefighters Down wants to be able to respond and support the firefighters and their families,” Captain Henry explained. “We want to bring them to Malibu and provide them support consisting of multiple therapies for them and their family members.” 

To Deliver Healing & Hope

  • There are over 2 million emergency calls to firefighters each year in the U.S.

  • Even in the face of personal danger, firefighters rescue victims of fire, accident or violence, provide first aide and ultimately risk their own lives to save the lives of others on a daily basis.

  • Sadly, there are few resources in place to assist firefighters with the necessary healing processes. Physical and emotional scars continue to amass until they become debilitating. 

  • The primary goal is to provide services to physically and emotionally injured or ill firefighters from departments across the United States. 

Firefighters Down Director of Therapy, Dr. Stephen Johnson, is chief designer and manager of the FFD therapeutic program. Customizing each session to meet the specific needs of the injured Firefighters served. Stephen J. Johnson, Ph.D., holds three advanced degrees and was awarded a Fellowship in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Southern California. He has been a licensed psychotherapist, consultant, and educator for over 40 years. He is the founder and director of the Men’s Center of Los Angeles, formed in 1988, and has conducted workshops and retreats for men and women for over 30 years.

The process created is called 
Individual & Group Counseling
* Meditation
* Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Therapy
* Immediate Explosive Disorder Therapy
* Mental & Physical therapies
* Sweat Lodges
* Higher Consciousness Practices
* Yoga
* Professional Fitness training
* Family Counseling
* Online Follow up program
* Contracting and collaborating with the
Firefighter’s Local therapeutic resources

The program not only supports the healing of Firefighters after injuries but also the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that haunts firefighters and their families for months and even years following the occurrence of the trauma.  

This powerful therapeutic process is designed to restore the spirit of the injured Firefighter.  With support from corporations, celebrities, a caring community and firefighters from across the nation, the injured Firefighters will quickly understand the value of their sacrifice as well as how many people admire and support the service Firefighters provide to the community. 

FIREFIGHTERS DOWN HEALING TEAM: Mojghan Henry, Captain Rick Brandelli, Douglas Sutton, Captain Mike Henry, Karen Fuentes.

Dr. Stephen Johnson and Men's Center Los Angeles are proud to support and endorse our very own Captain Mike Henry and Captain Rick Brandelli and this powerful wounded warrior program designed to assist Firefighters. The program offers a four-day intensive therapeutic and rehabilitation program for firefighters. 

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A film previewed at the 9/11 event at Pepperdine revealed that most Americans are unaware that more than 30,000 firefighters are injured each year on the job and rates of PTSD, suicide, divorce, depression and addiction – consequences of firefighters dealing with the stressors inherent in their job – take serious tolls on firefighters, those who love and work with them, and in turn, on the greater community.

Dr. Johnson, psychotherapist for the organization, discussed the effect of stress on first responders, explaining the lengthy process of healing. “Acute trauma can take three to four months to heal,” he said. “PTSD can take months or years.”

Captain Henry emphasized that one of the most healing things for those affected by these challenging conditions and emotions is so very simple: showing appreciation to the firefighters for what they have done for all of us. “We want to take the firefighters down to the Pier, to dinner, to help them relax and know that we are all thankful for all that they have done,” he said. 


MINDFULNESS IN NATURE: (L-R) Babbette Rothschild; Captain Mike Henry; Christiana Wolf; Deputy Fire Chief Angel Montoya, LA County Fire Department; Dr. Stephen Johnson, Firefighters Down Director of Therapy

LOCATION: Beverly Hills Benedict Canyon on 17 acres, Firefighters Down in partnership with InsightLA and Men’s Center Los Angeles.

GOAL: Two-Day (9am-7pm) Retreat goal is to save our precious families and marriages

  • The lowering of Firefighters’ Three Times the General population Divorce rate

  • Combating the increasing suicide/depression rates

  • Responding to Firefighters suffering from PTSD

  • Dissipating the cumulative effects of the Day to Day pressures and stresses on Firefighters and their Families 

MINDFULNESS IN NATURE: International Master Music Maestro Christo Pellani, Men’s Center Los Angeles Executive Director Dr. Stephen Johnson and LA County Fire Department Captain Mike Henry

Retreat guests receive Tools & Practices to transform:

  1. The Day to Day Pressures of being a Firefighter

  2. The stresses arising from on the job injuries.

  3. The struggles of Life after retirement

  4. The accumulation of Traumatic rescues on themselves and loved ones. A healing at the soul level, daily practices that enrich themselves and their families are our gifts.

  5. Powerful therapeutic tools:
    Mindfulness training
    Therapeutic practices
    Native American wisdom
    Nature’s healers:
    The Horse, Red Tail Hawks, Native American Drumming & Wolves  

“I wish my head could forget what my eyes have seen.”  

  • Mental trauma is NOT a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of compassion for your fellow man.
    * Line of duty deaths have continued to decline yet suicide is rising exponentially among First Responders
    * It’s time we looked out for each other and made it OK to talk about the pain. 
    * Trauma affects the mind in the same way as it does the body. 
    * First Responders see more tragedy in a day than most will see in a lifetime. 
    * The effects are cumulative with the burden becoming heavier by the day. 
    * Each person will cope in a different way but everyone has their breaking point. 
    * The ability to cope depends on overall health and sleep debt. 
    * Sleep deprivation mirrors traumatic brain injury, resulting in the same symptoms. 
    * Many turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.
    * The effects bleed out into our family life as well.
    * The First step is admitting that you are affected by the things you see.
    * PTSD is more than an acronym. It’s claiming the lives of our brothers and sisters. 
    * “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know that we were seeds.”  - Mexican Proverb
    * The next step is to talk. Talk as a crew, talk as a family. Find your Tribe and reach out.
    * The final step is to take control of every element of your life. 
    * Find something bigger than yourself and pour every ounce of who you are into it . . . 
    * “If you’re a cop, firefighter or trash man, be the BEST!” ~ Tim Kennedy, Green Beret

Firefighters Down “Mindfulness in Nature” relationship retreat group in June.


Thank You Firefighters

THANKSGIVING 2018 __ As we all reflect upon our many blessings on this very special day, let us be especially grateful and honor the wonderful work done by all of our country’s First Responders and Firefighters. Our entire Men’s Center Los Angeles community is so grateful for your service and extend our deepest appreciation for all you do.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of our MCLA family & friends. Please help us celebrate these amazing heroes. Click here for the Woolsey & Paradise Firefighters Healing Fund. We are ALL so grateful and have so many blessings to appreciate and be thankful for on this very special day. Please help us honor and support the Firefighters Healing Fund.

o - ❤️ - o
o - o - 🔱 - o - o
o - o - o - 🌎 - o - o – o

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Click here for Dr. Stephen Johnson’s Thanksgiving Director’s Message
Click here for “Gindling Hilltop: Phoenix Rising From the Ashes”
Click here for FireFighters


MCLA is proud to support and endorse our very own Captain Mike Henry and Captain Rick Brandelli in this excellent wounded warriors program designed to assist Firefighters and ALL the people who love and support and care about them and their important work. Your support of this intensive healing work is greatly appreciated, right now more than ever. THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS.
Web:; Facebook: FirefightersDown
Go-Fund-Me: Woolsey & Paradise Firefighter Healing Fund

BILL ARENA is MCLA newsletter editor and Wisdom Council 🔥 agitator.
Other MCLA articles include:
”My Crazy Escape from Alcatraz”
”Indigenous Prophecy of the Condor & Eagle”
”The Sacred Lakota Sundance Prayer Ceremony”
”Sacred Path Flash Flood Baptism on the Colorado River”