By David Reinholz
The February 2020 flooding in the Walla Walla and Umatilla river valleys and the pandemic created a double disaster, leaving vulnerable neighbors in need of recovery assistance. There are washed-out bridges needing replacement, missing insulation and skirting on mobile homes, debris removal, and much fencing that needs repair. The Blue Mountain Long Term Recovery Group (BMLTRG) is just beginning to send volunteer teams to help survivors, some 17 months after the flood event.
In the midst of the pandemic, Pioneer United Methodist Church in Walla Walla, Washington, applied for a grant through the Pacific Northwest Conference’s Fund for Families program. The program was established by the conference’s Connectional Table “to redirect up to $940,000 in connectional dollars toward local churches to support and, in places, augment existing services to those in financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In their application, Pioneer UMC asked the conference, through district superintendent Rev. Joanne Coleman Campbell, for an amount of $12,500, promising Rev. Coleman Campbell, and themselves, that they would match that amount for a total of $25,000. All the money was earmarked for flood victims and administrated by the BMLTRG.
For the past year, faithful members of Pioneer UMC have contributed to this ‘flood fund.’ They also applied for a $2,500 grant from the Warren Community Fund. The grant and recent donations have pushed them over the top and allowed them to match the conference grant. The church continues to help flood survivors with unmet needs as well as safe, sanitary, and secure housing.
“We are grateful to the conference for the grant and give thanks for the generous people of God,” states David Reinholz.
Matching grants from the Fund for Families is just one way United Methodists across the Greater Northwest Area have stepped up to be the church during a challenging time for many.
David Reinholz is a member of Pioneer United Methodist Church in Walla Walla and current chair for the PNW Board of Congregational Development.