Wildfire relief donations to Red Cross matched by Gesa Credit Union

Thousands of dollars were donated to the American Red Cross to assist with wildfire relief efforts thanks to companies in the Tri-Cities.

Bechtel and CHPRC collectively donated $30,000 to help with response and recovery. Though they are realizing much more money needs to be raised. Destry Henderson, Director of Communications for CHPRC said it feels amazing to be part of a company that is making a difference in the community, but due to extraordinary circumstances, more needs to be done.

“They’re on the front lines,” he said about Red Cross volunteers, “They see the urgent needs on a daily, hour-to-hour basis. Despite this commitment, it looks like the effort will require a lot more resources, a lot more time and this will take months and years to overcome and recover from, unfortunately.”

More than 400 homes have been destroyed in the state since fires broke out this summer. Some towns, like Malden in eastern Washington, have been close to completely decimated. Homes, businesses and city-owned buildings have been lost because of the flames. The American Red Cross has sent volunteers, supplies and resources to those impacted areas but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the response effort more challenging. More personal protective equipment is required for volunteers and recovery shelters aren’t possible. Instead, they have set up hotel shelters for people impacted by the fires. Executive Director of Central and Southeastern Washington American Red Cross, said they are still able to fulfill their mission and although it looks a little different right now, their hard work is still noticed.

“With the Evans Canyon Fire in the Yakima area, we did two hotel shelters there,” Roth said, “It was amazing to talk to the speak to these families who were displaced. They didn’t know if their houses were still there or not and they were thanking us.”

Communications Manager for Bechtel, Staci West, also serves as a local American Red Cross board member. She told KAPP-KVEW she feels lucky to work for a company that wants to better the community.

“Like many say, when there is a crisis, look for the helpers and we wanted to be those helpers for our neighbors,” West said, “A person’s world goes from what we may consider normal to devastating. They’ve lost their home, they’ve lost their memories, they’ve lost their future. This is our home and it’s important that we take care of each other and that’s more important now than ever.

Gesa Credit Union is also giving back to the Red Cross by matching community donations up to $10,000. Anyone can go into a branch location to make a donation to the Washington Wildfire Fund where money will then help people all throughout the state. The Assistant Vice President of Gesa Credit Union, Angie Brotherton, said the company quickly realized how big of a difference could be made – and the community could be included.

“We can encourage those who can give at this time to give basically knowing that they’re going to be able to stretch,” Brotherton said, “That dollar that they donate is going to be multiplied and can go even further.”

The matching donation effort with go through the month of October.