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Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 7:11 p.m.

Nonprofits gear up as contributions pour in

  • Chloe Thompson, 9, holds a sign in part of a community effort to raise donations for mudslide victims at the Food Pavilion Wednesday in Arlington. &qu...

    Sofia Jaramillo / The Herald

    Chloe Thompson, 9, holds a sign in part of a community effort to raise donations for mudslide victims at the Food Pavilion Wednesday in Arlington. "It feels good to help out. It's nice to feel like we are part of something. I'm very wet, but I am still here. "

EVERETT — Five days after a mudslide wiped out a neighborhood near Oso, national and local companies, nonprofits, tribes and individuals have rallied to support rescue, recovery and victim aid with donations of supplies, food, services and cash.
To date, four organizations have raised more than $600,000. That includes $225,000 received by the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation, $220,000 by the American Red Cross of Snohomish County and more than $200,000 by the United Way of Snohomish County.
Some of the larger donors include the Tulalip Tribes, the Boeing Co., the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians and JPMorgan Chase.
For some organizations, the fund-raising is just beginning.
The Greater Everett Community Foundation was holding a previously scheduled breakfast to support human services Wednesday morning. But the group recently set up a relief fund and let attendees at the breakfast know that they could contribute directly to mudslide relief at the breakfast.
That alone brought in about $15,000 in donations, said Maddy Metzger-Utt, president and CEO of the foundation.
"We're going to be working with the United Way and others to figure out the best ways to distribute this fund," she said. "The goal is that we're all working together."
That level of coordination and communication is important in the wake of a disaster, when many are looking for ways to help and might be frustrated initially by a lack of options — and later by too many.
"I would not want people to see more than one fund" receiving donations "and think that it's a fractured community, because it's not," said Neil Parekh, vice president of marketing for the United Way of Snohomish County.
"We're all talking with each other," Parekh said.
Charitable groups take different approaches. The Red Cross responded the same day as the mudslide, opening a shelter for displaced people at Post Middle School in Arlington and at the Darrington Community Center. The Red Cross has also been providing meals to displaced people, food and water for first responders and mental health support for those affected by the slide.
Red Cross spokesman Colin Downey couldn't provide an exact amount of money coming in, but a count of other organizations' donations indicates the Red Cross has raised at least $220,000, including a contribution of $100,000 from the Tulalip Tribes.
The Tulalips also contributed $50,000 to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation in Arlington.
"Both of them do good work, but they do somewhat different work," said Tulalip chairman Mel Sheldon Jr. "We're trying to reach as many people as possible."
All three local tribes have made contributions to relief efforts. The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians donated $100,000 to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation, and the much smaller Sauk-Suiattle Tribe contributed $6,100 to relief efforts in Darrington.
Corporate money has also been pouring in, with the Boeing Co. contributing $75,000 and pledging to match employee contributions up to $25,000, spokesman Doug Alder said.
The Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, meanwhile, which is administered by the company, is also donating $25,000.
"When you have something like this that literally happens in your back yard, we wanted to be able to help our neighbors out," Alder said.
Even smaller organizations, such as Everett-based Coastal Community Bank, which has 10 branches, including in Darrington and Arlington, has received calls and donations from across the country, said Laura Byers, the bank's director of marketing and branch strategy.
The bank has set up three funds to benefit the Red Cross, the Darrington Recreation and Education Foundation and the North Counties Family Services Relief Fund, which have brought in about $35,000 total so far.
"We have an employee who lost her home, so at the ground level, we're doing everything we can to help her and her family," Byers said.
In addition, one of the bank's employees went up to Darrington with old-fashioned "knuckle-buster" manual credit card swipers so businesses could accept payments while electric and telephone lines were still down.
Keeping the contributions local has been a driving ethos among many of the organizations stepping forward, including the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation.
"The foundation stepped up because we heard a request for funds in the community that are going to stay local," said Heather Logan, a board member for the foundation.
Eric White, vice chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe, said that is what drove the tribe's board to select the foundation as its beneficiary.
"We wanted most of the money to go to the actual families," White said. "We felt that was the organization that kept the money local."
The United Way's Parekh also asserted that all locally raised money would go directly to those organizations in the community working on disaster relief.
In the event the scale of the operation requires bringing on board new staff, the United Way will likely do what it did several years ago in response to flooding in Lewis County. It approached corporate partners to underwrite increased administrative costs to ensure all donations would go directly to the relief effort, Parekh said.
The Red Cross has a larger disaster relief fund that it uses to respond quickly to disasters nationwide, before local fund-raising starts. Nonetheless, the organization passes on 91 percent of all money through to relief efforts, and it honors donor requests if they choose to earmark money for a specific disaster, Downey said.
"Any designated funds that we would raise beyond what was needed for that emergency relief will be put towards the recovery needs of affected communities," Downey said.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

Cash collected
Totals raised as of Wednesday:
United Way: More than $200,000
American Red Cross of Snohomish County: $220,000
Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation: $225,000
Greater Everett Community Foundation: $15,000
Big donors
Some of the larger donations to date:
Tulalip Tribes: $150,000 JPMorgan Chase: $100,000 plus employee match up to $100,000
The Boeing Co.: $75,000 plus employee match up to $25,000
Stillaguamish Tribe: $100,000
Starbucks Corp.: $50,000
Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound: $25,000
Weyerhaeuser Co.: $25,000
Safeway: $20,000

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