In September 2020, Way of the Columbia-Willamette launched (UWCW) a Wildfire Response and Recovery Fund, to help families suffering devastating loss caused by the wildfires in our region. In times of disasters, we’ve heard from our nonprofit partners on the ground that vulnerable communities, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are disproportionately affected.  These communities generally feel comfortable seeking support from organizations where they have trusted relationships. That is why, in crises like these, UWCW plays a role in prioritizing direct and unrestricted dollars to culturally specific organizations.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of individual, corporate and foundation donors, in addition to supporting immediate relief needs, we will also support longer term recovery needs.

Our Community Impact team reached out to our nonprofit partners on the ground to understand immediate needs and longer-term recovery support that families needed. Based on our outreach and assessment, we are in the process of releasing our first tranche of funds. Given our commitment to racial equity in our mission and work, and our longstanding partnerships with culturally-specific as well as culturally-responsive organizations, distribution of funds follows these guidelines:

  • Grantees include culturally specific and culturally responsive organizations where communities of color including refugee and immigrant populations have sought assistance from trusted partners.  These communities are often ineligible for federal assistance even in cases of emergency disasters.
  • The funding we provide is unrestricted which means it can be used toward direct support or organizational operations.
  • Funds will support the needs that our grantees have identified for families such as housing, food, healthcare products, air purifiers, transportation, childcare, clothing, laundry services and showers.

 

We are also learning from our nonprofit partners about longer term needs such as the need for culturally responsive emergency preparedness including translation of emergency communications and materials.  Through our collaborations with government officials at the local and state level, we are identifying opportunities to help shape disaster response policies supporting BIPOC communities moving forward.

With your generous support, we have allocated $189,000 toward immediate relief efforts to the following nonprofit organizations:

Name

Area of work

Relief Efforts and Needs

Bridging Cultures

Strengthening the community by bridging cultures through mutually transformative relationships.

 

  • Protecting Oregon farmers through distribution and in person education of PPE. 
  • Distributing direct aid in the form of cash awards between $200-$600 to affected wildfire families who have suffered things like (not limited to) evacuation, displacement from their home, employment lay off, smoke damage to their home, food insecurity, in Clackamas and North Marion Counties with emphasis on the Canby area.

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

Providing education, physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

 

  • Support members of the Siletz tribes across the state Supported evacuees. Have needs around small home air purifiers and generators.

Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice

Equips communities and people of faith to advance immigrant justice through direct accompaniment of immigrants facing detention and deportation, policy advocacy at local, state and national levels, and prophetic action.

 

  • As part of the Immigrant Mutual Aid Coalition, they coordinate basic needs resource distribution to provide mutual aid to immigrant communities affected by COVID-19 and wildfires.

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)

Serves the holistic needs of Oregon's immigrants, refugees and mainstream community members. As a community-based organization, IRCO empowers children, youth, families and elders from around the world to build new lives and become self-sufficient by providing more than 200 culturally and linguistically specific social services.

 

  • Services that were requested included emergency assistance, basic needs, accessing housing options that are culturally responsive, transportation, clinical trauma informed intervention and support.

 

LoveOne

Serving Clackamas County neighbors in need by providing clean laundry, showers, meals, personal care resources and community connections.

 

  • Laundry event: clients can wash and dry up to three loads of their laundry free of charge.
  • Shower event: offer 15 minutes in a shower stall stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Resource table stocked with a range of essential personal care items, snacks, and other resources. 
  • Reported that people were being turned away from evacuation sites because they were considered vagrants. Everyone evacuated by the fires needed a safe place to evacuate to, which necessitated a supply of sleeping bags or bed mats and blankets, tents and tarps.
  • Also need food and water, showers and portable toilets, bus passes, use of a phone, connecting with loved ones.

Micronesian Islander Community

 

Mission: To organize social justice programs, preserve our cultures, and enhance leadership through unifying our diverse communities.

 

  • Supported evacuated families with basic needs/financial support. Those evacuated have or are experiencing houselessness or living in tight spaces with many family members which put them at added risk due to COVID-19.
  • Requests for food/or financial support due to job loss.
  • MIC also identified translations as a challenge especially for health, safety and emergency disaster material. The languages spoken and which could benefit from translation: Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Marshallese , Palauan, Tongan and Chamorro languages, and other Micronesian and Pacific Islander languages.

Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, Inc.(NARA)

Mission: To provide education, physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment that is culturally appropriate to American Indians, Alaska Natives and anyone in need. 

 

  • Provided services to help evacuate elders from the immediate areas. They used a Gresham residential program to help move youth and staff to a hotel.
  • Providing food support in the form of emergency food boxes, donating masks and sanitizers.
Oregon Food Bank Works to eliminate hunger and its root causes. Serves all of Oregon and SW Washington.
  • Provided support throughout Oregon and SW Washington to those affected by the wildfires. In Clackamas County alone, OFB provided about 1,300 food boxes to Clackamas County since the fires.
  • Grant will support BIPOC families with culturally responsive needs around food insecurity in the wake of the wildfires. Additionally, grant will go toward ensuring that the food available meets the cultural needs of our communities of color.  

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN)

Empowering low wage farm workers by protecting the rights via Oregon’s Farmworker Union. PCUN focuses on creating safer workplaces, advocating for fair wages, and pushing for enough economic security to care for Latinx farm worker families.

 

  • Offering emergency response, translations (including of evacuation orders), education, food, and basic emergency needs.
  • Rapid deployment of hygiene products, KN95 Masks, N95 Masks (limited supply), Goggles, and other PPE for working families.
  • Financial Aid for workers affected by wildfires
  • Referrals and Navigation of services (English, Spanish, Mixtec) for community members in need of legal services, hotels, and other assistance. 
  • Creating community feedback loop, and responsive to immigrant community needs around Wildfire response through 98.3 FM Radio Poder

Unite Oregon

Led by people of color, immigrants and refugees, rural communities, and people experiencing poverty, Unite Oregon works across Oregon to build a unified intercultural movement for justice.

  • Evacuating seniors and families, offering trauma informed interventions to families who have lost their housing because of the fires.
  • Their youth program volunteers are doing outreach and supporting their families with translations and assisting in filling out documentation.
  • Handing out gift cards, clothing, food, suitcases (to keep the dignity of community not carrying around plastic bags) and every basic need requested by their displaced clients.
  • Supporting community members impacted by wildfires to turn in their ballots. They have posted bilingual informational flyers about voting in the upcoming elections.
  • Long term support: Taking on evictions and tenant rights and looking for ways to be prepared for future natural disasters. Housing is also a huge issue for their community.

 

At United Way, we are committed to helping our community recover, become more resilient, while building a more inclusive and equitable region where all families have the resources and opportunities to thrive.