541-773-5339, 60 Hawthorne Street, Medford OR 97504 office@unitedwayofjacksoncounty.org

It’s been more than a month since the fires of September 8 that changed so many lives.  I want to say everyone’s but that’s just not true.  Did you know there are people living in our Valley who have not journeyed to see the damage yet?  I’ve been sharing a devastating Washington Post article from 10/20/2020 and the link is below.  The video can and must have a trigger warning from me.  I’ve heard from folks I’ve shared it with how devastated they felt.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/20/oregon-almeda-fire/?arc404=true&fbclid=IwAR0l1VuJ3Gw8sCuiTj7R_aW_2Y9Y5QNkVD5hW6uvijf1Cku-Xwl7SLb9GEg

I’ve received emails saying, “How can I help?” from people who live here.  My first answer is go see it because it’s clear in the conversation they don’t yet understand that the 2,605 residences included:

  • 11 mobile home parks
  • 2 low income apartment complexes
  • 2 residence motels
  • 1 senior assisted living complex
  • And two plus subdivisions

We also lost 198 commercial buildings, mostly small businesses that drive the economy.  And we lost 6 public buildings including the Southern Oregon Education Service District building that housed the people and equipment that provided special education and migrant education services.

The communities of Ashland, Talent and Phoenix were ripped apart.  The Phoenix/Talent School District has been profoundly impacted and is working so hard in this wacky school environment.  They are there for their families!  They are the model of what community school can be.  Thank you to them.  There are tons of shout outs that can be done on this remarkable community. 

Here’s what is really different about a clear sky on a beautiful fall day.  Jana, the woman who helps me almost every day at Starbucks, lives in Talent.  Her house survived miraculously and it’s right across the street from mass destruction.  She lives in her house again and sees that every day.  The smell, that’s what different.  We’ve had plenty of smoky days in the Rogue Valley.  We haven’t had the burn smell after the rain washed away some dust.  It’s a different smell even on a beautiful day.

I live in Ashland and I used to take I5 to work and back each day.  Now I consciously choose to drive 99, to feel the pain, to see the pain, to smell the pain.  Please go see it if you live here and haven’t been through yet.  Tell me what you think.

While the race is long, we have plenty of tortoises and hares who will get us there.  Be you!  We need you now.  Thank you.  Onward,