Community Disaster Response Fund aims to help Nevada County residents | TheUnion.com

Community Disaster Response Fund aims to help Nevada County residents

"Disaster Pastor" Toby Nelson serves as chaplain to a federal disaster group that responds to high-risk medical events around the world.

So it was a no-brainer for Pastor Sam Barger to turn to Nelson, with whom he works as a chaplain for the Grass Valley Police Department, after the McCourtney and Lobo fires.

"I had seen emails coming through saying California needs help and I saw a primary focus on the Santa Rosa fire," Barger said. "That's understandable due to the massive scale" of that fire.

But, he noted, 22 homes and 55 outbuildings were destroyed in the Nevada County fires, with hundreds displaced temporarily during mandatory evacuations.

“We want everyone to know we’re a community, we’re in it together. Let’s help those who need it most.”

— Pastor Sam Barger

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"I thought we have to help our own — not that we don't care about the others, but we need to make sure people in our backyard are being taken care of," Barger said. "I wanted to do something locally here."

Barger's idea of creating a Community Disaster Response Fund resonated with those he contacted.

"When I saw what happened in our own community, I thought, I don't have to go international — this is happening to us," Nelson said. "I was already inclined to do something, so when Sam called, I thought this was the best approach to take."

Nelson said he and Barger have been very active in the community for years and were able to make use of their connections.

"We believed they would be inclined to want to respond and that certainly has been the case," he said. "People are coming out of the woodwork."

Along with Nelson and community leader Dan Prout, Barger created an oversight committee that now includes Greg Fowler, Sue Horne and Mike Bratton.

The committee is all-volunteer, Barger stressed, and 100 percent of all donations collected will be disbursed locally back to those in need.

The Disaster Response Fund seeks to help those facing hardship from the fires by providing direct aid in the form of cash grants to meet immediate needs for clothing, shelter, transportation, food, and/or home cleanup and repair. Any resident of Nevada County who, as a result of the 2017 wildfires, was displaced from his/her home, has suffered a loss to his/her home or has suffered a financial hardship because of the fire is eligible for a grant.

"We will take all the applications that come in and try to prioritize according to the greatest need, Barger said. "Obviously those who lost their homes would be at the top of the list. … Our goal is that everyone who applies will get something.

"We've raised close to $10,000 to date and that's just over one weekend, so we're excited about that," he said.

According to Barger, the long-term goal is to create a fund not just for this disaster but for any future disasters that might come down the pike.

"We want to establish a network that could be utilized again and again and again," he said.

Barger said the group is "not religious or political based — it's community based. We want everyone to know we're a community, we're in it together. Let's help those who need it most."

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

Community Disaster Response Fund application by The Union on Scribd

Community Disaster Response Fund

To apply for a grant: Applications are available at the Grass Valley Police Department front office, 129 South Auburn St., or on its Facebook page. Return completed application by email to sbarger@gvpd.net or drop off/mail to the department at 129 South Auburn St., Grass Valley CA 95945. All applications must be received Nov. 30.

To donate: Contributions can be made payable to “First Response Chaplains” under account 611026951 and deposited at any branch of Tri-Counties Bank; donations are tax-deductible with your deposit receipt.

Or make a donation via PayPal.

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