Editor’s note: After the Pajaro River levee breached on Friday in Monterey County and then in Santa Cruz County, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County got a lot of phone calls, emails, and social media questions about how best to help the people of Pajaro in this latest round of storm and flooding disasters. There is confusion about where to donate since Pajaro is on the Monterey County side. The community foundations explain your options:
The Community Foundation for Monterey County and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County each activated funds to support storm and flood relief efforts when the first winter storms hit in early January.
Both the Monterey County Storm Relief Fund and the Santa Cruz County Disaster Fund have been working to provide emergency assistance and relief through local nonprofits for immediate needs including food, emergency shelter, financial assistance to those evacuated, as well as longer term recovery efforts.
Now, with the March 11 breach of the Pajaro levee — the dividing line between Monterey and Santa Cruz counties — both Community Foundations are directing relief funding to partner nonprofits who are helping thousands of evacuated residents, the majority of whom are Latino farmworker families.
Dan Baldwin, CEO of Community Foundation for Monterey County, recognizes, “The flooding in Pajaro is extremely challenging on many levels. The closest services are in Watsonville with Santa Cruz County government and nonprofit leadership, but the people from Pajaro are residents of Monterey County. Both our community foundations have strong and trusted partnerships with nonprofits who are on the ground providing immediate support.”
Susan True, CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, adds, “Generous people from both counties have been reaching out to ask where their donations can make the most impact. Due to the strong collaboration between our counties, we urge donations to either fund and assure you that your gift will make an immediate impact for the families of Pajaro.”
Donors are welcome to direct gifts specifically to the Pajaro area by noting “Pajaro” in comment field of the donation pages: cfmco.org/Storm Relief or cfscc.org/disaster.
Both community foundations have been in constant contact with nonprofit partners who are coordinating services for displaced residents. Community Foundation Santa Cruz County made an initial grant to Second Harvest Food Bank for food for evacuees. Second Harvest is in direct contact with the state’s Office of Emergency Services and is to get shipments of diapers, formula, and food this week. Both foundations will be making more grants this week and will continue to do so as long as donations allow.
True notes, “People have been through so much already and with another storm looming on the horizon, there is still so much work ahead of us in the coming weeks and months. Community Foundation Santa Cruz County will work to bolster the disaster case management system we created with FEMA and the state to make sure that residents are helped with every public dollar available. Local philanthropy can address the gaps for relocation, repairs, and rebuilding.”
Baldwin adds, “We are deeply grateful for the incredible expertise in disaster case management that our nonprofit partners have honed both through wildfire response and now storm and flood relief.”
Both community foundations have deep experience responding to community needs through disaster grantmaking including more than $20 million combined granted for pandemic and wildfire relief.
Those wishing to contribute to the Monterey County Storm Relief can donate online at cfmco.org/StormRelief, mail a check payable to “CFMC” to the Community Foundation for Monterey County, 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940 with “Storm Relief Fund” in memo line or call 831-375-9712 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those wishing to contribute to the Santa Cruz County Disaster Fund can donate online at cfscc.org/disaster, mail a check payable to “CFSCC” to Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, 7807 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003 with “Storm Relief Fund” in the memo line or call 831-662-2000 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
Photos Credit: Jeremy Lezin