Michael Lancaster has collected items from AARF and individuals and donated to fire victims

Published in the September 26 – October 9, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Michael Lancaster loves generously giving his time and energy to make sure his fellow Californians stay safe. The local man will be honored with a special award 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Grange Hall in downtown Morgan Hill for the many hours he has given of his personal time helping others in the South Valley and throughout the state.

“We realized it was time to recognize this man who has donated so many hours of his personal time in collecting donations and distributing them to those communities horribly affected by the fires, in addition to everything else he has done, and has continued to do,” said Marsha Edick, an organizer of the event.

Lancaster was born in 1979 and raised by his maternal grandparents from age 12 in the town of Rough and Ready in California’s Gold Country. His grandfather, Harold “Hal” Varni, who died in 2009, served as a fire captain with the Rough and Ready Fire Department. His grandfather’s involvement in the fire service made Lancaster also interested in this line of work. Many of Morgan Hill residents have known him to say, “I wanted to be just like Grandpa.” Lancaster’s grandmother passed away Aug. 25, after a lengthy illness.

At age 14, Lancaster became an Explorer Scout. At age 16, he became a volunteer with the Rough and Ready Fire Department. He continued with the department for nearly 10 years before relocating to the Bay Area. He and his wife, Cortney, moved to Morgan Hill in 2013.

His lifelong dream of a career in the fire service was extinguished because Lancaster suffers from asthma. For many years, he has been employed with a Bay Area company that installs, maintains and repairs fire suppression apparatus.

His hours of community service include the following:

  • Collects and distributes food and clothing donations to our less fortunate residents;
  • Picks up and delivers sandbags to residents who need special assistance to prevent the flooding of their homes;
  • Responds to all emergency situations in/around our community to lend assistance whenever and wherever needed;
  • Responds to various locations in/around our community where animals (including horses and livestock) are in danger and secures them as appropriate;
  • Remains on call for animal rescue each year on July 4 to help pets that have been spooked and have run off due to fireworks; and
  • He works closely with All Animal Rescue & Friends and various residents in the community to collect, deliver and distribute donated items for humans and animals including livestock and horses that have been displaced by the numerous fires in California.

“While Morgan Hill is still a rather small community, we have accomplished a lot in the past few years primarily due to Michael Lancaster to help not only our community but also so many others across the state,” Edick said.

Using social media technology, Lancaster also reports important emergency information to the community through a Facebook account he established called “On the Scanner.” This account, which was created a little more than a year ago, has already amassed more than 5,600 followers.

“This page has been instrumental in getting critical information to our residents on various issues,” Edick said.

The organizers are in the process of creating a “home movie” that sets forth all of Lancaster’s volunteer service. The video will be played during the award event and will also include the various news reporters who have interviewed him in the past few years.

“We have an amazing community filled with some pretty amazing residents.  We are very fortunate to have so many with generous hearts when it comes time to collecting donations,” Edick said. “It has truly been a team community effort, but we also realize that more often than not it is Michael who donates the vast majority of his personal time ensuring donations are collected and delivered/distributed.”


Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Email: marty@morganhilllife.com
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek