Gene's Note: Everyday Heroes!
Caden just wanted to help. He wanted to do something, anything, to help his friends and his community that were impacted by the Almeda fire. So, he provided bottles of water to those that were hot and thirsty from the heat. Then, someone brought clothes by for those in need, then someone gave him cash, and soon, with the help of friends, he was providing his own homegrown wildfire relief. This wasn’t planned, it didn’t require strategy sessions, and it didn’t require approval. It just took the initiative of one caring high school student who gathered his friends to help their community. I tell this story because he is the perfect example how one person’s desire to help can make a difference to so many!
You never know what opportunities kindness and compassion may bring. When Caden was handing out water, he met a man that had was having a very tough time as a result of the fires. As the man came up for a bottle of water, Caden noticed he didn’t have any shoes on. Caden looked at the man’s bare feet, and without hesitation he pulled off his shoes and gave them him. Caden is an example of the everyday heroes, who are simply thinking of others before they think of themselves!
Heroes come in many uniforms. They are first responders, utility workers, medical professionals, animal rescue teams, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, clothing stores, non-profit and grassroots relief efforts, churches, schools, your neighbors and more. These are all heroes who have stepped up to serve every day, but most importantly when we need them most. I listened to the scanner on the Tuesday evening that Southern Oregon was changed forever. Our first responders waged a battle against the flames, fighting to save life and property. This was more than a job…it was their community they were fighting for, and they fought hard.
Not only did our first responders stand tall, but many others joined in to help evacuate neighbors and pets, or provide safe place for family, friends and co-workers. They were not asked to do this; they just did what needed to be done. I am so thankful for our first responders and everyone else that joined to help their friends and our community. Many of these folks wear a uniform, while some come in an everyday disguise, but they are all heroes! It is important to recognize that although you may not be a first responder, or are not able to donate money or supplies, your caring concern for others has the ability to make a difference when others are in need.
It is the stories of heroes in an everyday disguise that give me hope for our future. Just like the young girl I heard about on the radio as I was driving into work. Adrianna lost her home in the Almeda fire, but still wanted to help others. So, she organized a car wash that raised $449 for wildfire relief. Her purpose was simple. “A lot of people lost their homes and I think it is really good to raise money for them,” said Adrianna. The comment from the announcer that hit me the hardest is when they said she planned to donate the funds to Rogue’s wildfire relief fund.
I spoke to her Mom and asked permission to share Adrianna’s story here. As I talked with her mom, Adrianna’s legend continued to grow in my mind. You see, it was her birthday and even though they lost their home in the fire, she said that she wanted to celebrate her birthday by helping others. Adrianna is another example of the everyday heroes that are putting others first…even when they have been impacted themselves.
There are many stories of hope to share from the fires that hit our region so hard in September. The stories of our community and everyday heroes have strengthened my belief that no matter how far apart we find our perspectives, we always come together when we need each other.
A perfect example of how our community has come together is through the support of the Rogue Credit Union Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. We established a wildfire relief fund as a trusted place that our community could donate to help our communities rebuild, with the goal of raising $100,000.
We determined that we would match up to $50,000 in donations. Within 24 hours we raised over $100,000 in donations to add to our $50,000! We were so surprised with the response and decided to match an additional $50,000, which was quickly met. Soon we were receiving donations from foundations, businesses and other credit unions to help Southern Oregon recover from the fires that had hit our region. We also received donations from over 5,000 everyday heroes like you! A community of caring and generous donors stepped up to support the growth of our wildfire relief fund to over $1.1 million! Not in our wildest dreams could we have ever imagined how quickly and how generously the support would flow in from donors small and large, to donors far and wide, all with one purpose. To help start the recovery process for our communities.
With your generous support we have already given $100,000 to the Red Cross for immediate community needs. We have also established a grant program for local non-profit organizations that are working directly to meet the needs of families and communities affected by the wildfires. These grants will be issued to charitable organizations, school districts or local government entities that are providing fire relief in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath or Douglas counties. Credit unions were founded on the principle of people helping people and we are honored to see our community join together when those three words have never been more important.
Finally, I also want to recognize the everyday heroes at Rogue. Our team members were impacted by this tragedy, with six of our team members losing their homes to the fires. Many others were evacuated for extended periods of time. I am so proud of our team and how they are displaying their resilience throughout all of this. We even had team members rush home to help evacuate families, get them settled, and then come back in to help members. I watched as our team gave displaced team members shelter when they needed it most. I saw our team offer food, clothing, and assistance to each other as they did what they do best: serve others. You always hope that people will stand up for each other in a difficult situation and I am as proud as I have ever been of the way our team has stood tall for our members, our community and each other when they needed us most.
I truly enjoy the messages I receive from our members in response to these posts and suggestions for future topics. So, please share how you were impacted by the fires, a story of an everyday hero that should be told, or how you served our community during this difficult time at firstname.lastname@example.org.