The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Tracy Thompson
the Times 

Walla Walla Valley COVID-19 Response Fund announces first grants

Focus areas include hunger, homelessness, health and mental health


April 16, 2020

WALLA WALLA—An anonymous Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from twenty-three Blue Mountain region organizations have recently awarded grants of $99,000 to Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC); $14,460 to Providence St. Mary Foundation, and $25,000 to Project Timothy (Dayton). In disbursing resources from the Walla Walla Valley COVID-19 Response Fund, the committee prioritized local needs including food insecurity and hunger, homelessness, health and mental health.

The BMAC food bank program, which includes Columbia and Garfield counties in its five-county service area, received funding to ensure there is enough food available through local food banks and take out meal programs in the Valley.

In addition to purchasing more food for distribution, the grant included support for logistics to get the food to the right places at the right time. The $99,000 grant is intended to cover the months of April, May and June. “As we proceed into the ramifications of this pandemic, BMAC Food Bank will be supplying a higher portion of a family’s calories, this money will help us purchase product that rounds out the family’s nutritional needs. We are also experiencing a shift to grab-n-go meals and this will help us provide the food and packaging for that new style of delivery,” said Jeff Mathias, director, BMAC Food Bank.

Providence St. Mary Foundation received $14,460 for a portable ultrasound machine, an addition to their resources to diagnose and treat patients. This is less than half the cost of the machine which generous donors had challenged others to match. “We are grateful to Sharon and Larry Clinton, Mike Martin and others who were instrumental in starting our fundraising efforts for the ultrasound. And we are thankful to BMCF for urgently approving this generous grant for the remainder,” said Lindsey Oldridge, Chief Philanthropy Officer.

The Walla Walla Valley COVID-19 Response Fund has received $10,000 from an anonymous foundation from Seattle and The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, WA recently made a $75,000 grant to the Fund. An anonymous individual provided $10,000. The Sherwood Trust of Walla Walla also generously donated $10,000. When added to $100,000 provided by Blue Mountain Community Foundation (BMCF), the Fund exceeded $200,000 before this first round of grants.

The COVID-19 Response Fund has a 23-member advisory committee knowledgeable in health care, education, mental health, childcare, basic human needs like food and shelter, services for homeless people, the arts, small business, recreation and other issues. BMCF asked the advisory committee to identify the top three needs at the outset of the 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order of the Governor. These are 1) food/hunger, 2) shelter/homelessness and 3) healthcare and mental health care. At present the committee is considering the needs of mental health providers. BMCF then asked the Advisory Committee to identify the charities best able to address these top needs, and reached out to them.

According to Kari Isaacson, Executive Director of BMCF, “the Committee meets twice a week. Its recommendations for grants go to BMCF’s executive committee or Board, who then make the final decision. We are expediting these decisions to get resources where they are needed most.”

When asked how organizations can access this source of funding if needed, Isaacson responded, “at this point we (The Walla Walla Valley COVID-19 Relief Fund) do not have an application process as we are affected by the emergency too, and (are) working from home. I welcome emails or phone inquiries to learn more about the Fund both from potential grant recipients as well as donors. This is a community-wide emergency that requires a community-wide response. BMCF is not able at this time to consider requests from individuals or families.” Isaacson can be reached by telephone at (520) 404-5302.

Individuals willing to donate to the fund are urged to visit:


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