Direct Relief Provides $12,000 in Grants to Tea Fire Victims

Direct Relief International has approved cash grants totaling $12,000 to residents affected by the devastating November 2008 Tea Fire, which destroyed 210 homes in the foothills of Santa Barbara and Montecito. The grants are being paid with designated contributions Direct Relief received to support Tea Fire victims.

Aid recipients were identified through the Tea Fire Long Term Recovery Committee, an interagency working group coordinating assistance among local nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross and the United Way. A caseworker hired by the committee has assisted the residents with their aid requests and confirmed the extent of their loss.

Among the grant recipients are Lance and Carla Hoffman. The couple escaped through the flames but suffered serious burn injuries that have required specialized care in Orange County since the fire. The cash grant will help them cover medical expenses, which surpass $95,000. Other grants have been approved for uninsured residents identified as being in extreme financial hardship directly caused by losses in the fire.

These cash grants were made possible by generous donors who contributed to Direct Relief’s response and recovery efforts, including the leading software company QAD, based in Santa Barbara.

During the incident, Direct Relief tapped internal funds from its general emergency account to purchase and distribute thousands of protective N95 particulate masks to residents and emergency personnel. Tea Fire contributions were not used for those expenses or internal personnel costs related to the response because the organization determined the actions were the type of activities for which it raises general funds.

As a result, Direct Relief is using 100% of all contributions specifically designated for the Tea Fire for direct financial assistance to fire victims. “In all emergencies that generate restricted contributions, we believe it important to articulate very clearly how such contributions are used, including explaining our internal accounting practices,” said President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “We are very fortunate to have supporters who understand that emergencies are difficult to predict and allow us the discretion to use funds as needed.

“Because of that general support to Direct Relief,” he continued, “we were able to respond fast and, in this case, use every designated dollar we received to support local residents only and precisely for that purpose.”

Remaining Tea Fire funds will be allocated to affected residents identified and approved through the interagency process. People affected by the Tea Fire may contact Pamela Voge, Long Term Recovery Coordinator, at the Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Red Cross to apply for assistance: (805) 687-1331 ext. 107.

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