June 12, 2018–This week, OpUSA delivered a $35,000 grant to partner organization On The Move’s VOICES program in support of youth wildfire recovery. On The Move (OTM) was founded in 2004 with the mission to develop and sustain young people as leaders by building exceptional programs that address the most pressing and critical educational, social, health and economic inequities facing our communities. Today, OTM’s initiatives offer a powerful and groundbreaking combination of strategies seeking to engage and develop new leaders, collaborate with partners in rigorous systems change, and foster communities that are inclusive and equitable.
This grant–provided by OpUSA and made possible by the support of our generous donors–will allow OTM to hire additional staff members for the VOICES program, which has faced increased needs since the 2017 wildfire season.
“As our local leadership slowly advances the rebuilding process, those who were already marginally housed and living paycheck to paycheck before the fires face nearly insurmountable obstacles. The fires had a disastrous impact on the local economy; employment and housing opportunities became scarce, and the strain that was put on the local assistance programs made it nearly impossible for many families to meet their basic needs. While the fires have largely disappeared from the headlines, the day to day existence of many low-income Napa, Sonoma and Solano County residents continues to be defined by the displacement, economic disruption and trauma caused by the fires.”
During the first week of the fires, VOICES staff supported more than 350 youths with services including addressing immediate material needs, street outreach, power and communication resources, information and case management, and emergency financial assistance. Since the fires, attendance rates accessing VOICES services have greatly increased.
OpUSA is so pleased to be able to support this wonderful program at this time. Learn more at onthemovebayarea.org.
May 16, 2018–This week, OpUSA delivered a $25,000 grant to partner organization Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) to assist with ongoing wildfire recovery. SAY, a Santa Rosa-based organization supporting children and families, will use the funds for programs aimed at improving the lives of homeless youth who–already vulnerable before the fires–have struggled in the aftermath to find safe and stable housing. This funding will allow SAY to provide year-round therapeutic intervention and system navigation for up to 15 young people in the housing continuum who are experiencing complex mental health issues and other trauma. We thank you for helping to make this meaningful grant possible.
December 2017– The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive on record. In October, more than 250 wildfires were ignited, burning over 245,000 acres and causing upwards of $9 billion in damage. In Northern California, wildfires ravaged many communities–destroying almost 9,000 structures, injuring more than 175 people and killing 90. In December, strong Santa Ana winds triggered additional fires, including the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which became California’s largest wildfire in modern history. Hundreds of thousands of Californians were impacted by these wildfires, many of whom were displaced and/or lost everything they own.
Operation USA is committed to helping our neighbors in need in the wake of these devastating fires. In November, OpUSA President & CEO, Richard Walden, traveled to Sonoma County to meet with local partners and assess damage. In December, thanks to a donation from Moldex Metrics, we provided N95 filtering masks to partner organization CAUSE in Ventura County for distribution to farm workers and others impacted by smoke from the fires. In 2018, we will continue to assess opportunities to provide material aid, cash grants and long-term recovery support.
To donate to ongoing wildfire relief and recover efforts, click here.