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    Lakeport Women's Civic Club representatives present a check to the Rocky/Jerusalem Fire Relief Fund.

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    Savings Bank of Mendocino County presents donations to the Rocky/Jerusalem Fire Relief Fund.

Fire relief fund nears its goal thanks to generous community support

Thursday, September 10, 2015

LAKEPORT — Thanks to donations from the Lakeport Women’s Civic Club and Savings Bank of Mendocino, the Rocky/Jerusalem Fire Relief Fund is nearing the $50,000 goal amount set by North Coast Opportunities (NCO) and Mendo Lake Credit Union (MLCU), its creators. A generous donation from the Lakeside Health Center earlier in September also helped bump up the total.

Created in mid-August while the Rocky fire was reportedly 95 percent contained and Jerusalem was at approximately 50 percent, the fund received a boost of $10,000 from the Lakeport Women’s Civic Club and more than $3,600 from Savings Bank. The contributions bring the fund’s total to a little more than $47,000, according to NCO Chief Financial Officer Carolyn Welch.

“Our group was unanimous in its decision to contribute the $10,000 to this fund,” said Pat Norcio, president of the Lakeport Women’s Civic Club. The club’s auditor, Cheryl Robbins, added that since February the members had been trying to decide how to use the reserve amount from the group’s investment. “There were other possible projects — all worthy applicants,” Norcio stated.

Savings Bank of Mendocino County gave $2,500 as a match, and the bank’s employees made their own contributions totaling $311; the bank matched that contribution as well, according to Savings Bank Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer Pete Dodson. “We are proud to be a part of a community that takes care of each other in hard times,” says Susie Robinson, Savings Bank Lakeport Branch Manager. 

Checks were presented by representatives of the Civic Club and Savings Bank on Tuesday to individuals from NCO and MLCU, who started the fire relief fund to provide quick assistance to people who suffered losses as a result of the two major fires.

Welch, NCO Executive Assistant Elizabeth Archer, and MLCU Director of Marketing and Community Outreach Jamey Gill accepted the donations Tuesday. The three of them expressed their gratitude and excitement with the amount raised to date. “Our goal is $50,000,” said Archer. “Thanks to these donations we are really close to that goal, and we would love to exceed it.”

Welch noted the agencies are still accepting donations and no amount is too small. Anyone wishing to donate to the Rocky/Jerusalem Fire Relief Fund can go in person to any MLCU branch, or send a check to MLCU made out to NCO with “Rocky fire” in the notes field. There is also a PayPal account set up to accept online donations, which can be found on the front pages of both the NCO and MLCU websites. Donations are tax deductible.

“It’s important for people to know that 100 percent of funds collected will go straight to those affected,” explained Welch. “Administrative costs are being totally covered by NCO.” She added that PayPal takes a small fee for any donations made online.

The fund is still accepting applications for assistance, and will continue to do so until all the funds have been disbursed. A five-person committee is overseeing distribution of the funds, and meets weekly to review applications.

NCO is the Community Action Agency for Lake and Mendocino Counties, and part of its mission is to serve those in need during emergency situations. The fund was officially set up by NCO as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

MLCU matched the first $5,000 in donations, helping to double donations that came in during the first week of the drive. “MLCU is all about people helping people, and our mission is to support the economic wellbeing of the communities we serve,” said MLCU Chief Executive Officer Richard Cooper.

For more information on how to donate, how to apply for funds, or how to apply to serve on the management committee, contact NCO Executive Assistant Elizabeth Archer:, (707) 467-3210.