Swenson: Community leaders stand at the ready
In times such as these, good-hearted townspeople come together to help each other. My message so far has been to remain calm and collected while we weather the COVID-19 virus. This week, I want to let you know how we'll be collecting ourselves to help weather the economic impact this will have on us all.
Many of you have expressed concern about those who will be suffering economically during this time of need and are looking for ways to help through actions and donations.
There are many needs to be addressed, and soon those needs will grow for people who live paycheck to paycheck when that next paycheck doesn't come. Families are coming together to support each other, of course, but many will have some or all of their family members out of work all too soon.
We know there is help coming for individuals and businesses from new government programs — and old ones, like the unemployment department, but there will be a need to help some people navigate and access those for the first time.
We know that there are many organizations in place that are ready to help.
I have been in discussions with our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Love Inc., the Woodburn Ministerial Association, PCUN, Woodburn Proud, the AWARE Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, the office of Representative Alonso Leon, the Chamber of Commerce, our school district and our medical providers about how we can have a coordinated response to helping those who are already, and soon will be, experiencing the economic impact of the situation we find ourselves in.
This week we are meeting (virtually) with leaders from those groups to outline the things we are already doing and can do better together — and plan a coordinated response.
When we do so, we will not only focus on the many material needs we will be experiencing, but the social and emotional needs we have in this time of uncertainty and please stay at home.
Our churches and other organizations are already reaching out by phone and e-mail to their members to see what they need and how they're doing, but we know we can also help neighborhoods and other organizations mobilize to make sure everyone is checked on.
The CERT has been training for years for responding systematically to a community emergency, and while this is not exactly what they planned for, they stand at the ready.
Our school district immediately mobilized to serve meals to students up to 18 years old from 9 to 12 every day at three locations and is defining how staff members can work from home to help students continue to learn.
The Chemeketa Small Business Center is coordinating state and regional efforts to help businesses apply for assistance and loans. Local banks are also ready to answer questions and help with financial options.
Organizations like Love Inc. and Woodburn Proud are already set up to take donations for those who want to lend a hand that way and will construct a clear plan so that donations go to those most in need.
Please keep using the phone to check on people and do what you can to help those in your circles. We will let you know soon how you can help those in our community outside of them.
— Eric Swenson is the mayor of Woodburn
and is a member of the Woodburn School
District Board of Directors.
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