CCAN, Methodist church provide the means of rebuilding
By Laurelle Walsh
The all-volunteer Carlton Complex Assistance Network (CCAN) works to provide material assistance to people who had losses due to last summer’s fires and floods that were not covered by insurance or eligible for government assistance. CCAN’s biggest efforts so far have been the distribution of tools and building materials to people rebuilding basic infrastructure, such as outbuildings, fencing, gardens and water and power systems.
“For people in places like the Methow Valley, the ability to continue living on their land is dependent on their ability to maintain it,” said CCAN business manager Ronda Bradeen. “We have sustainability issues that are unique to rural areas.”
Because CCAN’s members have all been involved in the community for a long time, “we’ve been able to see the gaps” and identify people’s unmet needs, she said.
One retired couple, for example, lost their barns, sheds and livestock to fire. “Without the income from their small goat farm, their situation was not financially sustainable,” Bradeen said. She spoke to other people who depended on their garden produce to get them through the winter.
So CCAN collected garden tools, and when the organization received a donation of garden seeds from Burpee Seeds, they assembled “garden starter kits” and gave them away at the Methow Valley Farmers Market a few months ago.
“Tools for work have been a high priority,” Bradeen said. Through CCAN’s tool drive, for example, the organization was able to provide an air compressor to a stone carver who had lost his tools in the fire. “He just wanted to be able to get back to work,” Bradeen said.
CCAN held a tool drive last September, which resulted in hundreds of tools being distributed to 18 households affected by fire. “It was hugely successful,” Bradeen said. “Tools are not the types of things typically donated to Goodwill,” she noted.
CCAN volunteers filled white plastic buckets with a variety of tools and Bradeen loaded them into her Toyota 4-Runner and drove to the homes of people in need. “I handed them a bucket and said, ‘Can you use this?’” Bradeen recalls. “At the beginning, people were so shaken up they couldn’t remember what they had lost, or what they needed,” she said.
The tool drive spun off into a lumber drive, after Ken Marson, owner of Marson & Marson Lumber in Leavenworth, donated three truckloads of lumber to the effort. When other lumberyards “from the Canadian border to Leavenworth” joined in with the collection efforts, CCAN was able to provide dimensional lumber, OSB, large beams, pressure-treated lumber and roofing material — about $20,000 worth of lumber — to people in the process of rebuilding, Bradeen said.
“People had to get creative to figure out how to make odd pieces of lumber work,” Bradeen said. One man in the Chiliwist, who was rebuilding a shop, looked at the lumber that was available and re-did his plans to make use of what they had, Bradeen recalls.
Although CCAN’s tool and lumber drives are now officially over, the organization has recently launched a new drive, the Subsistence Recovery Fund, with the goal of raising $300,000 to help people with unmet needs. For more information go to www.ccanrelief.org.
Local church supplies a ‘tool wagon’
When Methow Valley United Methodist Church (MVUMC) Pastor Donald Ford attended his denomination’s Pacific Northwest annual conference in January, talk turned to the needs of people who had lost homes in the Carlton Complex Fire.
The United Methodist Church’s Volunteers in Mission had already signed up to send teams to the Methow to help with rebuilding, but “it was pointed out that a lot of volunteers who would be coming to the valley to help rebuild were not highly skilled and didn’t have tools to bring,” Ford said. Somebody suggested assembling mobile tool trailers that could travel to the job sites, and the next thing he knew, he had raised his hand and said his congregation would sponsor one, Ford recalls.
MVUMC solicited donations to purchase a utility trailer — estimated to cost around $5,000 — and tools to go in it, and after one donor offered to match all donations up to $2,500, the “tool wagon” effort was off the ground, Ford said. Donations poured in from congregants, The Cove, other churches, and the Carlton Complex Assistance Network. North Valley Lumber “gave us a very good discount on tools that we bought new,” Ford added.
MVUMC’s 7- by 14-foot tool wagon is now fully stocked with all the tools volunteers might need to rebuild homes: several ladders, an air compressor, a generator, table saws, cut-off saws and hand tools, Ford said. The trailer even contains two fire extinguishers and two first aid kits, he said.
“As volunteer teams arrive, they can come and pick up the tool wagon,” said Ford. The trailer stays on the job site, securely locked, for the duration of construction.
In the future, the tool wagon will be available to travel to any disaster site in the Pacific Northwest, Ford said. It might also be available to Liberty Bell’s Careers in Construction Academy, he said.