Rotary Unites to Serve Southern Oregon Fire Impact

The devastating impact of the Sept. 8, 2020, Almeda and South Obenchain fires left behind more than 2,500 destroyed homes in Jackson County and communities grappling with a fallout that continues to this day.


March 1, 2022 — The devastating impact of the Sept. 8, 2020, Almeda and South Obenchain fires left behind more than 2,500 destroyed homes in Jackson County and communities grappling with a fallout that continues to this day.  The Rotary Foundation within hours of a request from local Rotarians responded with a $25,000 emergency grant to assist small businesses and individual contractors. The community matched that with another $25,000 and about 60 businesses and individuals received funding to replace lost tools and equipment.

And so, the Back to Work program was born.  Here’s a link to a KOBI-TV report out of Medford: http://71.92.142.133/?u=8m4B&p=FGeB

Organizing and managing the effort fell to the United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon, a coalition of all 10 clubs in Jackson County, representing more than 600 Rotarians. The organization came together literally as the smoke from the fires still hung in the air. A year and a half later, the Back to Work program has raised donations of about $430,000, which in turn has provided grants to more than 170 small businesses, with amounts ranging from $800 to $6,500.

About half the funds came from grants from organizations including Rogue Credit Union, Oregon Community Foundation, Rotary District 5110 and AllCare Health. The remaining half of the donations came primarily from local Rotarians, but also from Rotary clubs in Grants Pass and from clubs as far away as Colorado and Wisconsin.

Those receiving grants from United Rotary included owners of brick and mortar stores whose businesses were among the 175 commercial buildings destroyed by the fires. But the largest number of recipients were individual operators, who often lost business equipment when their homes burned.

Clubs participating in the United Rotary effort are Ashland Rotary Club, Central Point Rotary Club, Ashland Lithia Springs Rotary Club, Bear Creek Valley Rotary Club, Greater Medford Rotary Club, Jacksonville-Applegate Rotary Club, Medford Rotary Club, Medford Rogue Rotary Club, Rogue Valley After 5 Rotary Club and Upper Rogue Rotary Club.

 

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