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By David Little

Next week marks the three-year anniversary of the Camp Fire, which seems impossible. 

In some ways, it feels like the fire was yesterday. In other ways, it feels like 10 years ago.

In the first year after the fire, I struggled whenever I drove up to Paradise, Magalia or Concow. It was heart wrenching. You wanted to remember the ridge like it was, not as this blackened scar where people died and lifelong memories vanished.

Recovery has been painfully slow. People who wanted to replace homes had to navigate the full-time job of rebuilding. It took a year to remove charred ruins, then a pandemic dramatically stalled the rebuilding process. 

Now the progress is finally noticeable. That trip that was painful to take just after the fire is now hopeful. Most of the burned structures and burned trees are gone, though there are still an alarming number of dangerous looking black trees. Signs of construction are everywhere. Drive up once a month now, or even once a week, and you see improvements every time.

There’s still a long way to go. More than 14,000 homes burned in the Camp Fire. Three years later, 1,540 have been rebuilt.

In those three years, NVCF has awarded $46.7 million in grants for Camp Fire recovery, but the rebuilding effort has especially risen to the forefront in the past year. We’ve granted $4 million for housing projects this year alone.

The even better news is, we’re not done. Far from it, thanks to our donors. They told us we should focus on both short-term relief and long-term recovery. That is what we have done — even if “long-term” means longer than we all want.

CARE Team launches to help with suicide prevention


The CARE Team was unveiled in early October by NVCF to give young people and their families support if they have suicidal thoughts or mental health struggles.

The CARE Team telephone support line was utilized the very first day it was offered and five times total in the first two weeks of its existence.

The CARE (Community, Assessment, Response and Education) Team consists of two clinicians, three support staff and nine coaches who can support young people and connect them and family members with resources to help.

“So far the CARE Team is operating well,” said Erin Morrissey, program manager for Thrive and the CARE Team. “We have been able to support multiple young people and their families at varying levels of need. It has been a great privilege to be able to say ‘your community is here for you, you do not have to walk this path alone.’

“This program is an amazing example of grassroots, community organizing at its very best. The Thrive team and our collaborators were able to identify this growing concern in our community and activate a specific response quickly and effectively. We hope every young person and their families know how much they matter.”

Young people, family members, peers, school officials and youth-serving organizations can activate the CARE Team by calling or texting 530-783-CARE (2273) to be connected to a CARE Team coach. Callers leave a message and are contacted in no more than 24-48 hours.

The CARE Team follows in the footsteps of the youth-driven “End the Silence” campaign, encouraging the community, particularly young people, to talk about suicide and mental health.

To learn more about the CARE Team, view the new public service announcement videos, download a toolkit and see other resources, please click here or email thrive@nvcf.org.

Q&A

Each month, we interview a member of the NVCF family. This month’s interview is with Peggy Moak, one of nine members of our Butte Strong Fund Grant Committee. Peggy is a Concow resident and a former county treasurer-tax collector.

What has the experience of being on the Butte Strong Fund Grant Committee been like for you?

When I first was offered a place on the committee, I felt honored to be selected, and also grateful to be able to bring to the table my experience and rural perspectives, garnered through fire recovery efforts from the 2008 Lightning Complex Fire that so damaged Concow.  As I came to understand the extent of the donations that the NVCF had garnered for the benefit of those affected by the 2018 Camp Fire, I was astounded by the generosity of so many individuals and organizations, and gratified that, with this kind of financial backing, we could truly make a difference in our communities impacted by the aftermath of the fire. It’s been pretty cool to be a part of this stellar program.

Has it been different from what you expected?

I think the sweeping impact of the grants we have been able to approve, from enabling more effective case management to individuals and families, to helping the schools nurture and provide for their students and staff, to funding the recovery and rebuild effort through nonprofits, the town of Paradise and the county, really brought home the magnitude of our task, and how this event really brought forth the best in those who reached out to help in meaningful ways.

How effective is this committee, both individually and collectively? 

It has been so rewarding to work with my colleagues on this committee, and with the hardworking team at NVCF. I am continually impressed with the breadth of knowledge, energy and vision this group of dedicated community members brings to the table. They think outside the box, and ask in-depth questions to make certain their understanding of potential grants is solid. Each one has his or her own strengths and perspectives to share, and that makes for both lively discussions and more well-rounded decision making.

Does the gravity of what the committee is doing ever hit you?

Absolutely. We have been entrusted with vetting, modifying and approving substantial grants that have to have measurable and beneficial results. All those people and entities trusted NVCF and this committee to preserve and protect the funds to ensure they are used for the highest and best purpose in fire recovery efforts. It is a big responsibility.

What is the most difficult aspect of what you are doing?

You know, I’ve had years of experience with finances, lending, even home building. I’ve been through two horrific fires, saving some family homes and losing others. My heart goes out to everyone reeling from this disaster. What I find most challenging in this recovery effort is twofold: First, knowing the personal trauma — physical, emotional and financial — that so many endured continues to impact their ability to move forward; and second, the unprecedented increase in building costs, insurance issues and complicated grant and lending programs, which have made the recovery process difficult and prolonged for so many families. We’ll get there, but the road isn’t an easy one. It takes many hearts and hands to make our communities whole again.

North Valley Week of Giving attracts 78 organizations

The second annual North Valley Week of Giving begins later this month, and 78 community organizations have signed up to participate.

North Valley Week of Giving starts on Giving Tuesday, which is a national online campaign encouraging people to invest in the charitable causes they value on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

North Valley Week of Giving runs Nov. 30-Dec. 6 and allows donors to contribute to any participating organization in one transaction through NVCF’s Week of Giving web page when the event starts.

Last year, donors gave $182,220 in the first North Valley Week of Giving.

Nonprofit, charitable organizations in Butte, Tehama and Colusa counties, including charitable funds of NVCF, have signed up to participate.

Learn more here.

End-of-year charitable contribution tax tips

As we approach the end of 2021, thoughts turn to holiday celebrations. And sometimes thoughts of taxes — buzz kill.

However, there are some important things to consider, such as charitable contributions.  Here are four pretty cool tips when deciding on gifts to nonprofits.

1.  A deduction without itemizing

Even if you don’t itemize your deductions, you can still deduct up to $300 of cash contributions to charity. Lots of folks took advantage of this in 2020. But for 2021 the rules changed slightly. For those filing a joint tax return, the deduction has been increased to $600. Single filers still get to deduct $300.

2.  A gift of appreciated stock

The stock markets have seen significant gains over the past few years. If you are in the market, consider a charitable contribution of appreciated stock instead of cash. Why?

  • It saves cash.
  • It avoids capital gains.
  • It provides a tax (itemized) deduction for the fair market value of the stock.

Example: Stock purchased five years ago for $4,000. It is now worth $10,000. A gift of the stock avoids recognition of $6,000 in capital gains and provides a tax deduction of $10,000.

3.  A charitable gift from an IRA

When a distribution is taken from an IRA, it is taxed as ordinary income. If the IRA owner is 70½ or older, the distribution (such as the required minimum distribution) can be sent directly to one or more charitable 501(c)(3) entities.

What are the benefits?

  • The distribution is not included as ordinary income, which can lower your total income and trigger other favorable tax impacts.
  • The charitable gift offsets the distribution without the need to itemize deductions.

The fiduciary entity holding the IRA can provide the forms to accomplish the transfer to charitable entities. There are several details and limitations to qualify. For example, the gift is limited to $100,000 per individual IRA, and the distribution cannot go to a donor-advised fund.

4.  Set up or contribute to a donor-advised fund

Sometimes we discover we really need a good charitable contribution deduction (itemized deductions) for the year but haven’t decided on where to contribute. The answer is a donor-advised fund.

A donor-advised fund is easy to establish at North Valley Community Foundation. You and your accountant determine the amount of charitable contribution desired and transfer that amount to your fund before year end. You can then advise the foundation of charities you would like to support beginning in 2022. The full amount that is transferred into the fund is deductible in 2021.

5. Combining tips 2 and 4

As mentioned above, you can’t have the IRA distribution made to your donor-advised fund, but you can certainly contribute appreciated stock to the fund.  

Note that these tax tips provide general information. Be sure to check with your accountant, attorney or financial advisor for the details on these tax tips and which might be best for your situation. NVCF is happy to discuss the approaches but cannot offer detailed tax or legal advice.

Contact Bill Hubbard at bhubbard@nvcf.org for further information even if NVCF is not the recipient of the donation. We are here to help.

Odds and ends


Grant program unveiled for indigenous communities

In October we launched a new program to provide grants and other resources to indigenous communities affected by wildfires, COVID-19 and other hardships. NVCF has seeded its Disaster Relief for Indigenous Communities Grant Program with $100,000 to start.

It’s part of our effort to highlight social justice initiatives. NVCF has elevated Monica Wigman to the role of program officer, community healing. In her newly created position, she will oversee collaborations with underserved communities and underamplified voices in the North Valley, particularly Black, indigenous and people of color.

Read more here.

Butte Strong Fund seeks community development applications

The Butte Strong Fund is accepting inquiries from organizations seeking funding for community development projects in the Camp Fire footprint. Groups can make requests for funding to augment larger projects to help build or rebuild community landmarks and gathering places. The deadline to apply is Nov. 17.

The maximum grant will be $50,000. For information on eligibility and selection criteria, and how to apply, please click here.

Wells Fargo donates $500,000 to open wildfire fund

Wells Fargo has donated $500,000 to open a fund at NVCF for disaster relief and recovery throughout the state.

Wells Fargo gave more than $3 million to Camp Fire relief efforts through NVCF. This new initiative, the Wells Fargo Disaster Response and Recovery Fund at NVCF, will allow the banking institution to rapidly deploy funding after a disaster.

Read more here.

New funds at NVCF

Altacal Audubon Elizabeth I. Brown Scholarship Fund: The primary purpose of the fund shall be to award scholarships to college-bound graduating seniors enrolled in public schools in Butte, Glenn or Tehama counties who plan to attend a college pr university in California, students entering their junior or senior year enrolled in a college in California, and camperships for youths. The scholarship will seek to promote the awareness, appreciation, and protection of native birds and their habitats through education, research and environmental activities. Learn more or donate.

Glenn County Drought Response Fund: The primary purpose of this fund is to assist the drought response efforts of Glenn County by providing a simple method to receive and accept charitable donations to support that work. Monies raised by this fund must be distributed by the foundation on behalf of the county for drought response activities in Glenn County. Activities engaged in by the fund must also be approved by the Glenn County Board of Supervisors. Learn more or donate.

Hot links


Here are a few of our favorite news stories last month that cover what we do. Click the headlines to read the stories:

Inside Skinny: How Aaron Rodgers changed local hometown business owners' lives, donating more than $1 million (WFRV, Green Bay)
 
NVCF launches support program for youth suicide prevention (Action News Now)

$100,000 committed to Northstate indigenous population recovery after fire, COVID-19 (KRCR)
 
Drought assistance helps with short, long term water solutions (Chico E-R)
 
A half-deaf Chico artist creates mural in downtown Chico for deaf awareness (Action News Now)

Getting social

Each month we highlight our post on social media that was viewed by the most people. For two weeks, we ran daily posts with local residents talking about why they chose to get vaccinated. Many were widely shared. This post was seen by 3,913 people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Please share and subscribe

Please forward this newsletter to a friend — or several friends. If they would like to receive this newsletter in their inbox every month, sign up here.

Parting shot

Sometimes we all need a reminder of the beauty around us. A rainstorm and fall colors near Stirling City signal an end to summer ... and fire season. (Photo by Patrice Berry)
Copyright © 2021 North Valley Community Foundation, All rights reserved.


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