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First round of grants announced for COVID-19 Response Fund

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This story has been modified since its initial publication to reflect a correction.

The first round of grants from Blue Mountain Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund has been announced.

A 22-person advisory committee recommended allocations to three organizations in the Walla Walla Valley on Friday, according to a news release from the foundation.

To start things off, Blue Mountain Action Council will receive $99,000, Providence St. Mary Foundation will receive $14,460 and Project Timothy in Dayton will get $25,000.

Foundation Executive Director Kari Isaacson said this is the beginning of what they hope to be even more support for local nonprofits.

“We’re just trying to raise as much as we can as fast as we can,” Isaacson said. “We’re starting a campaign with Sherwood Trust to encourage people to give.

“I’m worried about our nonprofits surviving this pandemic, we need those people to be able to deliver the food and services we all rely on.”

According to the release, the funds were granted with the following factors in mind: food and hunger, homelessness and health and mental health.

The BMAC funding was eyed because of the organization’s food bank, which feeds people from Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties and has seen a major influx of use in the past few weeks.

“As we proceed into ramifications of this pandemic, BMAC Food Bank will be supplying a higher portion of a family’s calories,” Jeff Mathias, the food banks director, said in the release.

“This money will help us purchase product that rounds out the … nutritional needs. We are also experiencing a shift to grab-n-go meals, and this will help us provide the food and packaging for that new style of delivery.”

The grant is intended to cover the months of April, May and June. Isaacson said Mathias had very good information that allowed them to craft a plan on helping the food bank.

“The committee asked questions like, ‘What are the top needs?’” Isaacson said. “And, ‘What are the best organizations to meet those needs?’ So there was a really clear consensus on why BMAC was so basic to all the food and hunger needs.”

The grant for the Providence St. Mary Foundation pays for a portion of a portable ultrasound machine, in addition to resources to diagnose and treat more patients. Other donors were encouraged to match donations, the release stated.

“We are grateful to Sharon and Larry Clinton, Mike Martin and others who were instrumental in starting our fundraising efforts for the ultrasound,” said Lindsey Oldridge, the hospital’s chief philanthropy officer. “And we are thankful to BMCF for urgently approving this generous grant for the remainder.”

Project Timothy of Dayton was selected because they are the swiftest way to deliver food and shelter needs in Dayton and Columbia County, the release stated.

Port of Columbia Executive Director Jennie Dickinson said Project Timothy is able to help people with rent, utilities, food and transportation among other things.

“There are people who need help paying for rent and utilities who will never ask for help,” Dickinson said. Project Timothy can meet those needs.

According to the release, the Walla Walla Valley COVID-19 Response Fund has received donations and support from many people and organizations and continues to seek support for the Valley’s expanding needs.

Checks are being cut this week for the three organizations, Isaacson said.

“We’re trying to do this on a very fast turnaround basis,” she said. “Our board is acting on a quick response.”

The committee meets twice a week right now, Isaacson said. She suspected the next round of grants should be released either at the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Formal applications are not yet being accepted by the committee, but there’s a chance it will happen in the future, according to Isaacson.

An anonymous company is providing $10,000, along with another anonymous foundation from the Seattle area and the Sherwood Trust of Walla Walla.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Wash., recently made a $75,000 grant to the fund. When added to $100,000 provided by BMCF, the fund exceeded $200,000 before this first round of grants.

There will be about $60,000 left in the fund after the latest checks are cut, but donors were still coming forward this week.

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Jedidiah Maynes can be reached at 509-526-8318 or jedidiahmaynes@wwub.com.

Jedidiah Maynes is the managing editor of Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine. He also writes about business news in the Valley and covers a variety of others topics on occasion. He enjoys making music and puns.