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Rotary aids fire victims who lost work tools

Workers and small business owners who lost their tools and equipment in the September wildfires in Jackson County can apply for up to $5,000 each to replace their burned gear.

The United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon previously helped workers and sole proprietors replace $50,000 worth of tools in two rounds of funding.

Now armed with another $117,000 from Rogue Credit Union and international Rotary members, Jackson County’s 10 Rotary clubs are accepting applications for a third round of their Back to Work program.

This time, the clubs are expanding the program to include small businesses with employees, along with workers and single-person businesses who were eligible before.

The earlier efforts to help workers and solo business owners were so successful the clubs wanted to boost the reach of the program, said United Rotary Clubs President LeAnn Mobley.

“We were able to help subcontractors who lost all their tools and were unable to accept jobs,” she said. “There were young women who make their living cleaning houses who lost vacuums and supplies. There was a young couple that does brush abatement, which is important given fire danger.”

Others who benefited included landscape maintenance workers, carpenters, auto mechanics and people who work in the woods. Accompanied by Rotary members, they bought new tools and equipment, along with ear protection, helmets, protective boots and other safety gear they need on the job.

Mobley said she hopes an even wider variety of people apply for the latest round of Back to Work funding.

Commercial artists who lost canvases and other supplies, musicians who offer music lessons or small business owners with employees could be among the new categories of people who apply, she said.

Because of the larger pool of money and wider extent of the program this round, Rotary members won’t personally go out shopping with workers and small business owners like they did in previous rounds, Mobley said.

Instead, recipients will be asked to submit copies of receipts and photos of the equipment they bought, she said.

Mobley said the program not only helps workers and small businesses that lost gear, but stores where those people shop to replace their burned equipment.

“It’s another win-win,” she said.

The Rotary clubs expect that most people will be awarded amounts of $1,000 or less. Some could be approved for the maximum amount of $5,000.

The program is for individuals and businesses who are under-insured, have no insurance or won’t qualify for enough aid from other programs to return to full employment. Loss of revenue, income, salaries and wages are not eligible for coverage.

Those interested in applying for money should fill out the application form available at rotaryrebuildssouthernoregon.com. Copies of the form are also available at the Phoenix Civic Center, 112 W. Second St.; Talent City Hall, 110 E. Main St., and the Phoenix-Talent School District main office, 401 W. Fourth St., Phoenix.

The application is available in both English and Spanish.

The deadline to apply is midnight Friday, Nov. 20.

The funds will be distributed as soon as possible after the applications are reviewed.

United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon represents approximately 600 Rotarians from all 10 clubs in Jackson County. The coalition of clubs has set a fundraising goal of $1 million to assist fire victims through immediate and longer-term efforts.

For more information or to donate to the clubs’ fundraiser, see rotaryrebuildssouthernoregon.com or rotaryrebuildssouthernoregon on Facebook.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Rotary member Tom Mustard, right, helps Marco Rodriguez shop for tools at Dazey’s Hubbard’s in Medford during an earlier round of Rotary's Back to Work program. Rodriguez lost his landscaping and carpentry equipment along with his Phoenix home in the Almeda fire. (Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune)