MEDFORD, Ore.- For over a year, dozens of organizations throughout the Rogue Valley have worked to help the community rebound from wildfires and Covid-19. Now, 35 grants totaling almost three million dollars coming from the Oregon Community Foundation’s Community Rebuilding Fund is helping them do just that.
It’s a joint effort led by the Oregon Community Foundation, in partnership with Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation and American Red Cross.
For Unite Oregon’s Rogue Valley branch, the $150,000 grant means helping marginalized groups prepare for the next emergency.
“We want to make sure that our communities have all the tools and training and resources they need to act in these emergencies and keep our family safe, and their other community members safe,” explained Angelo Duncan, Grants Manager at Unite Oregon. “With the dual crises of the pandemic, and the wildfires in 2020, we had to pivot to providing direct services to our communities.”
That includes translation services for informational flyers like how to pack a “Go Bag”, checking soil for toxicity levels from burns, and getting people signed up for emergency alerts.
“That’s on our own, because a lot of the systems, even though they’re in Spanish, a lot of our folks don’t have that technological thing,” said Virginia Camberos, director of the Rogue Valley Chapter of Unite Oregon.
Just under $126,000 dollars is headed to Klamath County. Chiloquin Fire Rescue volunteers fought the massive Bootleg Fire with equipment over three decades old. Now it will be getting new equipment, including a new engine- something that’s been on their wish list for almost a decade.
“Our fire department had been working with equipment that’s 30 years old and hand me down wildland firefighting engines and things. And they had prepared numerous grant applications in the past and just hadn’t got any traction,” explained Cathy Stuhr, coordinator for Chiloquin Community Builders. “We just don’t have the tax base here in the small rural community to come up with the funds for something as expensive as a new firetruck and new firefighting gear. Just really feeling supported now by the greater Oregon community.”
But the grants aren’t just for direct fire recovery help. The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon, formerly Kid Time, in downtown Medford is receiving over 112-thousand dollars to provide much-needed services for young children.
“Get them out there with some more social and emotional growth, and give kids and parents everything they need to recover from what everything that has been going on in the community,” Executive Director Sunny Spicer said, explaining the pandemic and the fires have distanced kids from their communities and getting creative. The grant money will go towards materials, supplies, building more facilities, and helping the museum finish a remodel that’s been a year and a half in the making.
“We’ve been closed for a year and a half and that’s been hard on families, so being able to be open sooner rather than later and have more facility space is so important. And this grant is going to give us the chance to do that,” she said.
The other grant recipients can be found here on the Oregon Community Foundation’s website.