Paso Robles News|Monday, December 9, 2019
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Initial distributions made from Thomas Fire Fund 

–$500 prepaid credit cards have begun going out to up to 1,000 residents whose homes were destroyed by the Thomas Fire in the first distribution from the United Way Thomas Fire Fund. The American Red Cross of the Central Coast will process payments through their case management system.

United Way of Ventura County, United Way of Santa Barbara County, and the American Red Cross of the Central Coast formed a strategic partnership vital in helping the community recover from the Thomas Fire. The blaze has grown to the largest in state history and destroyed more than 1,000 structures since beginning Dec 4. Details on future fund distributions will be forthcoming.

“This initial distribution of up to $500,000 is a first step toward rebuilding the damage from the Thomas Fire,” said Eric Harrison, CEO, United Way of Ventura County. “The support from the community and the nation has been unprecedented, and we’ve been looking forward to getting these funds in the hands of those who need it most.”

American Red Cross of the Central Coast CEO Jim McGee shared “Red Cross trained caseworkers are here to support our community through the recovery process. Our caseworkers will provide this additional financial assistance from the Thomas Fire Fund and will work with impacted families on developing a personalized recovery plan.”

Local community partners have determined that the United Way organizations, in both counties, are uniquely positioned and qualified to manage the disaster fund, accept contributions, make distributions, promote the fund and provide a report to the community on how the funds were used. A committee of representatives from community- and faith-based organizations will be convened to assess needs and allocate remaining money from the fund in Ventura County. In Santa Barbara County, United Way of Santa Barbara County will coordinate with local partners such as the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Santa Barbara County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SBC VOAD) to determine the most appropriate SBC VOAD member organizations and individuals to receive funding, based on the direct need of those affected. United Way of Santa Barbara County may also work to address additional support for individual victims if the wildfire emergency expands into more populated areas. One hundred percent of donations to the United Way Thomas Fire Fund will support those in our communities affected by the Thomas Fire.

To date, more than $2.5 million has been collected.

How to give:
Online at www.unitedwaythomasfirefund.org
By texting UWVC to 41444
By phone or mail: call (805) 485-6288 or checks may be sent to the United Way office
at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003. Please write “Thomas Fire Fund”
in the memo.

To contact the American Red Cross of the Central Coast please call: (805) 987-1514.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.