Maps Wildfire Fund Provides Relief to Impacted Maps Members

Dec 1, 2020

(SALEM, Ore., December 1, 2020) – Over Labor Day weekend, historic wildfires swept through the Santiam Canyon corridor in the middle of the night, burning down trees, houses, and nearly everything in its path. Smoke and ash darkened the sky, making it difficult to breathe throughout the Mid-Willamette Valley region and thousands of residents were forced to evacuate, including many Maps members. 

Without a trailer to evacuate her animals from the farm, one member of Maps Credit Union evacuated without them, only to return because she could not bear leaving them behind. She resigned herself to stay with her goats, sheep, chickens, and horse — no matter what.  

Then the phone rang. It was Jillian Faulkner from Maps Credit Union, asking the member if there was anything she could do to help. After talking to the member, Faulkner took action. Through Facebook, she found a couple of guys to transport the member’s animals. Jillian even offered to let the member seek shelter at her place if needed. “Maps,” the member later said, “saved my life!”

Jillian’s help reflects the hundreds of ways that Maps Credit Union and its charitable Maps Community Foundation has supported its members throughout Oregon’s record-setting wildfire season.

With the help of employees from several Maps’ departments, the credit union reached out to every one of its 1,200 members living up the Santiam Canyon corridor. In addition to doing a welfare check, employees provided information about a range of supports, such as skip payments, emergency loans, and the new Maps Wildfire Relief Fund established by the Foundation to fulfill members’ immediate needs and support the community’s longer-term recovery and rebuilding efforts. 

“We decided to focus our relief efforts directly on our members—checking in personally and providing emergency financial assistance to cover the costs of hotels, food, and other basic needs,” said Kim Hanson, Executive Director of Maps Community Foundation. “We knew it would take time for insurance and other benefits to kick in and we wanted to help relieve some of the financial stress more quickly for our members.”

Since its launch in mid-September, the Maps Wildfire Relief Fund has raised $110,000, with a $50,000 match coming from the Foundation and the rest from the incredible generosity of Maps members—truly a “Members Helping Members” approach. The 750 member donations have ranged from $5 to $5,000, with 100% of every donation going to relief efforts.

Staff quickly turned the donations around, with $65,000 in emergency financial assistance, plus food and gas cards, already distributed to 130 members who survived the fires. The level of member impact has varied from unexpected hotel costs, lost work hours, and smoke-damage, up to total property loss. 

Maps Community Foundation has also given $5,000 to nonprofits providing resources such as food and clothing for evacuees, including United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley and the Santiam Service Integration Team, as well as $10,000 to the larger Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund. 

“I've been a member for over 20 years, and have always been treated well,” said one member, “but this, this is a true helping hand. Thank you.”

Another member expressed appreciation for what the credit union has done for the member’s family, which now lives in a trailer because their house is so damaged by fire, smoke, and ash. 

“Thank you for your help,” he told Maps. “Your support has made this tough time a little bit better.”

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About Maps Community Foundation
Maps Community Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Maps Credit Union, a member-owned financial cooperative with 70,000 members and 10 branch locations in Salem, Keizer, Monmouth, Woodburn, Silverton, and Stayton. The mission of the Maps Community Foundation is to “enrich the lives of members and our community by investing in education, economic empowerment, and community vibrancy.” Programs include student scholarships, teacher and community grants, financial education, and nonprofit event sponsorship. The Foundation is funded through Maps Credit Union, which invests one penny each time a member swipes a Maps Free Community Checking debit card. In 2019, members generated more than $94,000 to be distributed locally through the Maps Community Foundation.

Contact: 
Kim Hanson, Executive Director, Maps Community Foundation
office: 503-588-0181 x5752; cell: 503-881-4388; email: [email protected]