Burgerville Teams Up with United Way to Support Wildfire Relief

Burgerville’s vision is to make this the healthiest region on the planet. This means that we step up during times of crisis, whether its burger delivery to first responders or cash donations to support immediate aid and recovery efforts from wildfires. Last September when wildfires swept through the Northwest, communities were in crisis. Our own Burgerville community – employees and customers – were also directly affected by the Beachie Creek and Riverside fires. So we immediately reached out to United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, two regional chapters of the United Way to offer assistance.

Many people may think of United Way chapters as those “holiday workplace giving campaign” people. They raise money for non-profit partners helping the most vulnerable families in our region. While that’s absolutely true, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette (UWCW) has sharpened its focus to address two of the region’s biggest problems: poverty and lack of racial equity.  Not surprisingly, our region’s recent catastrophic events in the form of a global pandemic and the September fires have given even greater urgency to this work.

We Zoom-chatted with Nidhi Dagur, Director, Marketing, Communications & Annual Giving Campaign.  She described how the pandemic has already disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities. Job losses and illness create a cascading set of challenges for families to meet their basic needs:  food, shelter, housing, medical care, and childcare.

When the Beachie Creek and Riverside fires happened in September, UWCW’s Community Impact team immediately reached out to their partners to see what was needed. The first relief phase was for emergency shelter and resources like food, healthcare products, air purifiers, transportation, childcare, clothing and laundry services.

Phase Two of this recovery work is for intermediate to longer term recovery support: supporting nonprofit partners with culturally responsive emergency preparedness needs including translation of emergency communications and materials, clinical trauma informed intervention and support in addition to helping people unable to meet their basic needs due to continued impacts such as a rise in COVID cases due to evacuation. Many no longer have jobs to return to: the fires not only took homes but destroyed farms and wineries, sources of high employment and housing in the Willamette Valley.   Long-term support taps into UWCW’s existing “Resilient Families Fund” helping families recover and rebuild their lives, while building a more inclusive and equitable region where all families have the resources and opportunities to thrive.

We are grateful for the work of UWCW and so many other partners helping Oregonwashigonians when help is most needed.