“What is more impactful than a card?” city of Thousand Oaks employee Michelle McMurtry asked herself. Starting a GoFundMe to raise thousands of dollars in support of her coworker Carlos Contreras as he and his family grieve the loss of Cynthia Campana – a wife, mother, daughter and sister.
Campana, a 31-year-old Valencia resident, was declared dead on the scene of a Nov. 27 car crash on San Francisquito Canyon Road.
Contreras is on a leave of absence from work as he mourns his wife.
McMurtry only met Campana one time in person. She said that even though that may be true, she felt that through Contreras’ captivating storytelling she knew her even more.
“I met her only one time but she lived in the stories that Carlos would tell about her,” said McMurtry. “On their fun vacations he would show, I mean, just countless photos of the family and tell stories about how they met and their journey through life and the kids … I did feel like I knew her more than just meeting her one time. She was an amazing human being and I’m glad I got to meet her just one time and I’m glad that I got to experience a little glimpse of their life through Carlos’ stories he would tell.”
McMurtry has worked with Contreras for four years. It took no time for her to start to think about just what she could do to lend her support.
A card was typical for the office, but not impactful enough. She wanted to reach a wider range. That is when she turned to GoFundMe.
McMurtry and her coworkers brainstormed what the goal should be. They started small at $5,000 but felt like they could do more. The goal increased to $10,000 then to $15,000 before finally saying, “We’re gonna shoot for the stars,” and hitting submit on a goal of $20,000.
“He is one of the most caring and supportive and encouraging people that I’ve ever met,” said McMurtry, “and we really, all of the employees that work with him, really wanted to give a little bit of that back to him.”
The donations have come flooding in, surpassing the stars and the goal by $10,779 with 225 total donations, as of the time of this publication.
“Every time I’ve checked it, I check it about once a day, I just immediately start crying,” said McMurtry. “I just am so grateful for the love and encouragement and the humanity that is being displayed through this event.”
All of the proceeds will go toward Contreras for whatever the family needs during this time.
“He’s (Contreras) overwhelmed with the love and support that he’s receiving and he’s so very grateful,” said McMurtry.
For those wishing to donate to Contreras’ GoFundMe, visit tinyurl.com/yr7474f3.