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Another View: Thank you from Auburn Disaster Relief Fund

Another view
By: Mark A. Lund, chairman, Auburn Disaster Relief Fund
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On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009, our community was devastated by a wildfire that destroyed 63 homes and businesses in the heart of our community. But the fire destroyed more than homes and business properties. It destroyed the tools of trades people, photographs and video recordings, priceless wedding dresses, family heirlooms, books and music, and all of those “special possessions” that are so precious to the lives and identities of the survivors. In just a few hours our neighbors and friends lost most everything they owned, and, in many cases, the life they enjoyed right here in Auburn. Many were uninsured and suffered the full financial loss. In some communities that would have been the end of the story — but not here in Auburn. The next morning, Community 1st Bank teamed up with the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and established the Auburn Disaster Relief Fund. The fund was structured so the community could come together, raise tax-deductible funds for the fire survivors and give every dollar collected to the very people who lost everything. And Auburn did come together to help the fire survivors. Within days, fundraising events were being planned. The Auburn Journal and KAHI radio helped spread the word, and donations began to accumulate. In total $50,580.62 in donations have been received, representing over 235 individuals and organizations. Most of this money has already been distributed, helping the survivors re-establish a normal life. By the end of March, every dollar collected is expected to be in the hands of survivors. Community 1st Bank absorbed all of the operating expenses. It is impossible to thank everyone who has helped in this effort. However, I would like to highlight several organizations that demonstrated leadership in this relief effort. Barbara Smith from the Pioneer United Methodist Church, in conjunction with the Auburn Faith Based Coalition, gave advice on how to manage disaster relief. Without their experience and counsel, this effort would have been much more difficult. Also, a special thank you to the organizations that contributed so much by coordinating fund raising events. A special thank you to Captains Ralph and Diane Jiminez, Michelle Talbott and Jon Morningstar of the Salvation Army. They provided invaluable service by interviewing survivors, assessing needs, and assisting with funding requests. The Salvation Army did this work without cost as a gift to our community. We will never be able to replace all that was lost on that terrible day. But together, by putting the community first, we have all made a difference to the people affected by this fire. Now that the framework for a citizens-based grass-roots disaster response has been established within our community, we will retain the infrastructure for addressing potential future disasters. The Auburn Disaster Relief Fund, its volunteers, and resources will remain a part of our community. Thank you to the Auburn Disaster Relief Fund Citizen’s Advisory Board: Mark A. Lund, Community 1st Bank; Bruce Cosgrove, Auburn Chamber of Commerce; Jim Holmes, Placer County Supervisor; Mike Holmes, Auburn City Council; Ken Tokutomi, Tokutomi & Caruthers CPA’s, LLP; Deric Rothe, Auburn Journal; and Steve Galyardt, Community 1st Bank. Once again, thank you to everyone who participated in this relief project. We truly are blessed to live in such a wonderful community. Mark Lund is president and CEO of Community 1st Bank and chairman of the Auburn Disaster Relief Fund’s Citizen’s Advisory Board. --------------------------- Priceless donors Although only a few are listed, these people and organizations represent hundreds of individual donors who helped contribute to the Auburn Disaster Relief Fund. The fund raised over $50,000 for 49 fire victims. Placer High School Auburn True Value Hardware Applebee’s Auburn Area Recreation & Park District Rotary Clubs of Auburn Citrus Height Rotary Club Lions Clubs of Auburn Soroptimist Clubs of Auburn Coherent Vitas Insurance Company Armrod Charitable Foundation Ridge Food and Beverage, LLC Lee & Carol Tager Family Charity Fund