Kern Community Foundation Awards Close to $115,000 in East Kern Earthquake Disaster Relief Grants
It is exactly three months to the day since the first of three large earthquakes and countless aftershocks struck Ridgecrest, China Lake, and surrounding areas, causing damage to local homes, businesses and government installations, and displacing entire families who continue to struggle to this day.
Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of Kern County’s giving community and key philanthropic partners, Kern Community Foundation recently awarded $114,875 to eight nonprofit agencies, from donations received through the Foundation’s Kern County Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund, which KCF established within 24 hours of the massive 7.1 quake that reverberated throughout Kern the evening of July 5.
More than 90 percent of donations were large gifts of $10,000 to $50,000 received from Berry Petroleum Company, Mojave Pistachios, W.A. Thompson Distributing Company, and The California Endowment. Smaller gifts were received from a number of generous community members.
Grants were awarded in late September through a competitive application process, and range between $1,500 and $28,000. Moneys will help the following nonprofit agencies with ongoing earthquake relief activities as well as facilities repairs:
High Desert Lighthouse Ministries: $28,000
The Salvation Army Ridgecrest Corps: $28,000
Women’s Center High Desert: $28,000
Desert Area Resources and Training: $11,476
China Lake Museum Foundation: $10,000
Mission Community Services Corp. (MCSC) Kern Women’s Business Center: $6,399
Almost Eden Rescue: $1,500
Socks & Paws Animal Rescue: $1,500
“The needs of the Ridgecrest community were so varied and critical after this horrible event, it was simply mind-boggling,” said KCF Board Member Justin Leland, Director of Business Services for Moneywise Wealth Management, who participated in the grants evaluation and allocation committee. “By being able to take part in the grantmaking process, we had a window into the most pressing needs of the community through the compelling written testimonials of those people and organizations with boots on the ground. Personally,” he said, “I will forever be more mindful of the needs within a community after a natural disaster. It isn’t just buildings and property affected by these disasters but lives, community services and outreach, personal connections, and financial stress.”
Indeed, through their funding requests, grantees described how they found themselves facing such challenges as scrambling to locate temporary lodging for displaced families; to helping those who were still housed with much-needed home repairs; to having to respond to a noticeable increase in domestic violence following the quakes; to taking in runaway dogs that had gotten spooked by the combination of both the quakes and Fourth of July fireworks; to providing Small Business Administration workshops and services to help affected businesses get back on their feet; and many other dire circumstances.
Most grantees have had to respond to community needs while working to take care of the damages their own facilities incurred. For that reason, the grant application included a section for applicants to detail lessons learned from the East Kern quakes with a view toward implementing emergency preparedness in the future.
KCF President and CEO Kristen Beall Watson said, “In addition to providing critical resources to the communities impacted by the earthquakes, this process helps us identify gaps in the response continuum and design more proactive systems for meeting great needs.”
Donations can still be made to the Kern County Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund. Simply go to the KCF website, www.kernfoundation.org, click on the “Give Now” link at the top of the screen, and find the fund link in the “Designated” funds section.