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Woodburn's AWARE Food Bank is among the recipients of Maps Community Foundation's 'helping hand'

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn CERT volunteers help fill boxes at AWARE Food Bank in April. AWARE is among the recent recipients of Maps Community Foundation's helping hand project.AWARE Food Bank in Woodburn was among the Mid-Willamette Valley nonprofits to receive a shot in the arm via a regional credit union collective, a response coming in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Maps Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Maps Credit Union, has awarded $78,000 to dozens of varied entities, primarily ones aimed at helping people in need.

The foundation began issuing the awards in March.

"We care deeply about the community, (and) as soon as the pandemic hit, we knew we needed to get emergency funds out to nonprofit organizations working on the frontlines in Marion and Polk counties," foundation Executive Director Kim Hanson said.

Hanson noted that a first wave of awards in March saw the foundation distribute unsolicited emergency grants of $2,500 to eight organizations: AWARE Food Bank Woodburn, Mano-a-Mano, Marion-Polk Food Share, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency – ARCHES Program, Polk County Service Integration Team, Santiam Service Integration Program, Silverton Area Community Aid, and United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley.

It was a timely project.

"Many of our partner food pantries are seeing between 30% and 60% increase in families needing assistance; we are serving more than 70,000 people each month," said Rick Gaupo, president and CEO of Marion Polk Food Share. "Our Maps grant was used at AWARE Food Bank in Woodburn and to serve seniors through our Meals on Wheels Program."

The food bank had to shift gears.

"I know AWARE is doing curbside, home delivery, and mobile pantry deliveries to farmworker camps," MPFS Grants Manager Eileen DiCicco said. "I believe they are serving about 1,400 families a month right now."

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn CERT volunteers help fill boxes at AWARE Food Bank in April. AWARE is among the recent recipients of Maps Community Foundation's helping hand project.

The needs ranged wide and the assistance reached far.

"As schools and workplaces closed, our local nonprofits were inundated with requests for emergency food boxes, supplies and financial assistance," Hanson said. "We selected these groups because they knew where the greatest needs were in our community and how best to help. We wanted to support their efforts as quickly as possible."

Hanson said to broaden the effort after the initial emergency grants, the foundation established the Maps Community Recovery Fund.

"Once it became clear that we were only at the beginning of the crisis, we wanted to do more," she said. "Through the Maps Community Recovery Fund we have been able to provide support to an even wider range of organizations, using a responsive and equitable process."

Maps accepted applications on a rolling basis and several credit union employees helped the foundation review the requests in order to accelerate the awards and distribute them weekly. Over the past few months, awards from $500 to $2,500 have been made to a diverse group of organizations providing a range of vital services.

Hanson stressed that grants were earmarked for a variety of purposes, from helping organizations continue services while socially distant, to providing emergency food assistance, and supporting children, families and individuals experiencing homelessness, abuse, anxiety or depression exacerbated by isolation and stress. Some grants helped offset revenue losses due to canceled events and fundraisers.

"Community give-back is a key priority of Maps and the Foundation," Hanson said. "Our hope is that these grants have made a real difference to local nonprofits and their ability to meet the rising need."

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency's ARCHES, which serves the area's homeless population, received an emergency grant of $2,500 to address the impacts of COVID-19.

"We are thankful for the support provided by Maps Community Foundation," ARCHES Program Director Ashley Hamilton said. "These are hard times for everyone. Maps' confidence in us to supply basic needs services to our most vulnerable neighbors speaks not only to their generosity, but also their heart."


Groups get grants

As of July 2020, Maps Community Foundation has awarded $78,000 in grants to the following 34 organizations:

After School Activities Program – Silverton; Assistance League of Salem-Keizer; AWARE Food Bank – Woodburn; Boys and Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties; CASA of Marion County; Catholic Community Services of the MidWillamette Valley; Center for Hope and Safety; Family Building Blocks; Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley; GeerCrest Farm and Historical Society; Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley; Liberty House; Mano-a-Mano; Marion-Polk Food Share; Micronesian Islander Community; Mid-Valley Literacy Center; Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency – ARCHES; North Marion Services Team Options Counseling and Family Services; Polk County Service Integration Team; Project Able; Sable House; Salem Harvest; Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality; Salem-Keizer Education Foundation; Salem Leadership Foundation; Santiam Service Integration Program; Silverton Area Community Aid; Silverton Small Business Relief Fund; Stayton Regional Small Business Relief Fund; The Inspire Foundation; Union Gospel Mission; United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley; Willamette Heritage Center.

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