Underwood Fruit Fire

$20,330 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 221 people in 14 months
This morning, October 18, 2017, Underwood Fruit Company was engulfed in flames. This fire created immediate job losses within our community as every employee was laid off for the foreseeable future.  
This fund has been created to help UFC employees and their families get through this difficult time. All funds received will be used in compliance with WGAP's policies and procedures to ensure families affected by job loss and their emergent needs will be supported equitably.
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As we near the end of another fire season, we’ve been reflecting back to one year ago when we all woke up to the news that an Underwood Fruit warehouse had been engulfed in flames.
Almost as sudden and unexpected as the fire its self was the community response. It was immediate and came without judgement or bias. The fire was still burning and donations began pouring in.
A fundraiser was held, a film was made, and when all was said and done over $100,000 had been raised.
Over the course of the next few months families received help with rent, utilities, medical bills, and basic needs. Because of the outpouring of support, families who lost income due to the fire didn’t have to worry about facing an eviction notice, or having their power or water shut off. They were able to concentrate on the more important task at hand, getting back to work.
One year later, the warehouse is still under construction. Underwood Fruit has let us know that they expect to be back up and running in early December. For now, they are continuing to operate much like they did last season, with about 80% of their employees who are able to work and some choosing to wait to work until the new line is ready (many employees have to wait because they cannot work night shift). A portion of the employees who are working are able to work 2 out of every 3 weeks as they are rotating their packing crew to give work to everyone. Underwood Fruit is continuing to rely on industry partners to allow them to have pears packed on their lines and the apple line is operating at Underwood. There is a large pear crop being harvested this year and Underwood Fruit anticipates having plenty of work to do once the new packing line is operational.
This fire was and is something that continues to have an impact on families in our community. These are our neighbors, our friends, our schoolmates. Let’s not forget them.
Through fundraising efforts by Laurie Stanton, funds from Hood River Cultural Trust and from the Salvador Fund were provided to create a short film about this event and its impact on the community. Story Gorge LLC used the funds to hire a high school senior, Bruce Bradbury, to create the film as an internship, with guidance by Story Gorge staff. We’re proud to present the finished product, Fruta del Fuego https://www.storygorge.com/fruta-del-fuego
With the release of this film we hope to remind our community of the greatness of which it is capable. We all came together and made an astounding difference for the families who faced uncertainty. We also hope to remind our friends and neighbors to reach out if they’re struggling. We’re here.


Leslie Naramore, Laurie Stanton, and the Story Gorge Team
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The smoke has cleared from the Underwood Fruit Company fire, and now we realize just how great the immediate economic devastation is. This morning alone I processed 21 applications which amounted to over $23,000. That isn’t even half of the requests we’ve received as of yesterday. And before you ask, the bills we’re assisting with are the most basic of needs: rent, electric, heat. Needless to say, we’re staggered and feeling overwhelmed.

And this hasn’t affected just the Bingen/White Salmon area, but the entire Gorge; UFC employees have come in from The Dalles, Hood River, Odell, Stevenson, Carson, and Underwood.

To help address this, a fundraising event is being planned for mid-November, or approximately three weeks from now. In the meantime the need isn’t going away. With the first of the month right around the corner, rent is coming due for a lot of already vulnerable families. Paycheck-to-paycheck on minimum wage means these workers most likely have no way to plan for this type of catastrophe, so our fundraising efforts are ongoing and we appreciate every dollar that comes in to help.
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I'm just blown away by the response! THANK YOU ALL! I'm so proud of our community.

I wanted to take a moment to clarify exactly what these funds will be used for. All of the money donated for UFC will be used to directly benefit UFC employees. It will not be supporting any WGAP program. When UFC employees come in for help, WGAP will verify that they were an employee and then any needs that they have can be taken care of. WGAP will pay bills on their behalf directly to the vendor. They can also utilize any of WGAP's programs such as the Food Bank.

I was able to speak with a representative of UFC today and I was informed that the biggest concern they're hearing from employees at this time is a fear of losing their healthcare. UFC is trying to negotiate with their insurance company but there are no guarantees.

I was able to verify that 283 people lost their jobs because of this fire. At this time the apple line is expected to reopen on Tuesday and that will put 60 people back to work but only part time. These are all minimum wage jobs and with holidays and winter right around the corner this loss of income is just devastating.
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$20,330 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 221 people in 14 months
Funds raised will benefit:
Washington Gorge Action Programs
Certified Charity
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White Salmon, WA
EIN: 910793062
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Nancy Toledo
12 months ago
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12 months ago
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12 months ago
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13 months ago
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13 months ago
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