Sean Boren, 19, started a volunteer moving crew of fellow teens after the Carr Fire burned through his California town and proved you can be any age to make a difference.
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The Mover: Sean Boren
Credit: Courtesy of Sean Boren

Sean Boren was one of thousands forced to flee last July as the horrific Carr Fire burned through his hometown of Redding, California, and the surrounding counties. Flames were nearing his mother’s home as they left; the sky was filled with smoke. “It was like Armageddon,” says Boren. The fire burned down the home across the street from his mother’s. It came even closer to his father’s house, scalding the deck and burning the fence. In total, eight people died and more than 229,000 acres and 1,000 residences were destroyed by the fire, which began when the rim of a car’s flat tire scraped asphalt and sent sparks flying.

Boren, now a 19-year-old freshman at nearby Shasta College, went to stay with a family friend. A week passed before his family was allowed to return. And he couldn’t stop thinking about the near misses on both of his family homes. “It really showed me how quickly something can be taken away from you,” he says. “I didn’t want to sit back and watch other people do all the work.”

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Others in town were organizing food drives and helping first responders. Boren saw a need for labor, to move things from damaged homes into storage or new homes, or back into once-evacuated homes that survived the blaze. He rounded up his friends and launched TTASC: Trucks and Teens Assisting Shasta County. His mom, Lianne Richelieu-Boren, was instrumental in putting his idea into action. She posted about the effort on Nextdoor and Facebook, and soon requests for help came in. A GoFundMe campaign raised money for trucks and supplies.

On some jobs, Boren had 10 or so friends helping; on others, turnout swelled to more than 40. When his first semester of college started, Boren and his group kept up their efforts on weekends. “A lot of people, when they’re younger like me, feel like since they’re young, they don’t have as much of a voice,” says Boren. “If you’re willing to work hard enough to do something, that’s all it takes.”