Blue Mountain Region COVID-19 Relief Donations Top $4.7 Million

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Walla Walla, WA – Inspired by the All In WA Initiative, generous businesses and individuals donated over $4.7 million for COVID-19 relief in the valley throughout 2020, with $4,135,614 eligible for the All In WA match. Donations were made to COVID-19 response funds hosted by Blue Mountain Community Foundation and United Way of the Blue Mountains.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the nonprofit community, with many organizations forced to cancel their programs and close their doors while others faced unprecedented need for their services.

“Once COVID-19 hit and our performances were postponed and canceled, our source for funding was dramatically altered to the point of running completely out of operating dollars,” said Walla Walla Choral Society President Bob Schumacher. “Because of these donations, we are now able to say with full confidence that we will have enough money to help us weather this pandemic storm until we can, once again, perform for the Walla Walla Valley community we support.”

Over $4,284,736 was raised through the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, with $562,742 raised through the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, $1.5 million in designated gifts to area nonprofits and an additional $2.1 million donated through the Charitable Giving Guide, presented by Columbia REA. Eligible nonprofits from Pendleton to Pomeroy received donations. The BMCF COVID-19 Response Fund provided a match for the first $10,000 raised by Umatilla County nonprofits, which are geographically ineligible for the All In WA match. “One of the founding principles of Columbia REA is support for our local communities,” said Scott Peters, CEO of Columbia REA. “We live in an amazing community, supporting each other has never been more important than right now.”

Kol Medina, President & CEO of the Foundation, is overwhelmed by the donations. “I simply don’t have words to properly describe the magnitude of our community’s generosity. Tremendous. Magnificent. Dazzling. Shockingly heartwarming. Our community’s unprecedented support for nonprofits during this pandemic is staggering.”

The United Way of the Blue Mountains raised $461,172 under the COVID-19 All In WA Initiative. To date, $238,148 has been paid out to 44 different agencies across the region, with the remaining designated donations slated for payment the first week of January. Donations for general COVID-19 relief will be awarded in a special nonprofit mini grant cycle this spring, with more information to be released in the coming weeks. “We are so proud to partner with All In WA’s Covid-19 Fund, and honored by the generosity of our community,” said United Way of the Blue Mountains Executive Director Christy Lieuallen. “This fund not only raised much needed dollars for our community, but it’s wonderful to have a fund that was flexible, allowing people to decide how best to prioritize their needs for housing, health care, food, childcare, transportation, and other necessities.”

The Walla Walla Symphony received the largest donation to a single organization, $825,000 from an anonymous donor through the Charitable Giving Guide to ensure the long-term recovery of the Symphony. “We are honored and inspired by this transformative gift,” said Walla Walla Symphony CEO Leah Wilson-Velasco. “This gift will allow us to challenge and delight our community through music for years to come.”

Medina added, “And let’s not forget that All In WA, through the amazing generosity of Jeff Bezos and the staff at the Seattle Foundation, will be matching all of these donations, up to 100%. So it is possible that the millions donated will be doubled!”

The money raised through the Charitable Giving Guide and United Way programs will be paid out immediately to the individual nonprofits. The matching dollars from All In WA are expected to be awarded to their respective nonprofits in March. BMCF absorbed all credit card and administrative fees, ensuring that donors’ intent is honored 100%.

The COVID-19 Response Fund Advisory Committee, comprised of several local leaders including United Way of the Blue Mountains and BMCF, continues to meet regularly and review grant applications for urgent/emergent funds to address pandemic-related need.