United Way donating $525,000 to relief effort

EVERETT — After a whirlwind week of raising money for mudslide relief, the United Way of Snohomish County is turning around and starting to distribute the cash.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit announced it was directing $525,000 to help mudslide victims and their families.

“We’ve come up with our plan of how we’re going to support these communities,” said Neil Parekh, United Way’s vice president of marketing and communications.

United Way of Snohomish County has raised $1.3 million since establishing its disaster recovery fund one week ago.

Tuesday’s donations are mostly targeted directly at the families, with Family Support and Resource Center in Darrington and to a new family support center in Arlington each getting $200,000.

Those organizations will distribute the money directly to people affected by the slide. How the funds are used is up to those organizations, Parekh said.

That could mean buying food, gas cards, temporary housing, child care, travel expenses, even helping volunteers, Parekh said.

Another $125,000 will cover set-up costs for the new family support center in Arlington and also will allow growth of the Darrington family services center to handle the increased need for help.

That $125,000 comes from money raised by corporate partners, Parekh said, while the $400,000 earmarked for direct aid to the victims and survivors of the mudslide came from individual gifts either directly to the United Way or through a telethon.

Arlington mayor Barbara Tolbert has been talking with other organizations since January to create a family services center in the city that would provide some missing services.

“This was a need I had been working on in our community and that need became front and center a week ago last Saturday,” Tolbert said.

With the donation from United Way, some donated desks and a computer, the hope is that the center, essentially a branch office of the Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center, will be up and running by Friday.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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