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Credit Union Leads Efforts on Southern OR Wildfire Relief

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Thousands of homes in southern Oregon were lost during September wildfires. (Bumble Dee/Adobe Stock)
Thousands of homes in southern Oregon were lost during September wildfires. (Bumble Dee/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
October 20, 2020

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A credit union is leading relief efforts after wildfires devastated Oregon in September. Rogue Credit Union has raised more than $1 million for communities in southern Oregon.

President and CEO of the Credit Union Gene Pelham said 2,500 homes near their Medford headquarters were destroyed in the fires.

"Six staff members lost their homes in the fire, and multiple others either have family members with them or were displaced temporarily. Those types of things," Pelham said.

Within two weeks of the fires, the Rogue Credit Union Wildfire Relief Fund raised $1 million. Since then, it's distributed $1.15 million, including $100,000 each to the United Way and La Clinica. The Phoenix Talent School District received a $150,000 grant to distribute laptops to affected students.

Pelham said credit unions in nearby states have offered assistance and donations have come in from as far away as Italy.

"My heart is warmed by the way people have come together to help each other out," he said. "This is when we realize how much we rely on each other and how much we need each other."

Rogue Credit Union also is offering loan extensions and mortgage deferments to its members during this challenging time.

Pelham said thousands of homes in southern Oregon were lost.

"This was affordable housing, impacting marginalized communities, impacting a lot of our Hispanic community and so on," he said. "So we really need to pull together and help folks in a way that helps our community remain vibrant and strong - not only today but tomorrow and in the future."

Pelham said recovery in the region will take years, and there are still more than $1 million in grant requests. Folks can donate to the relief at roguecu.org.

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