Shortly after the April 9th tornado devastated many area families, the Rochelle Area Community Foundation saw the need for the management of donated funds and quickly organized a Disaster Relief Fund. People from around the country sent checks and online donations along with notes of well wishes for our local families.
As of today, the fund has been touched by more than 1200 individual donations reaching a total of $540,000. Incredibly generous corporate donations were made by Swedish American Hospital Foundation, Allstate, Union Pacific Railroad and others. Chicago’s McCormick Foundation contributed $150,000, some of which may be used to cover increased administrative costs related to the disaster.To date, more than $277,000 has been distributed from the fund.
In the weeks following the tornado, a Long Term Recovery Committee was established to assist families with spiritual and emotional needs, rebuilding, trees and landscape, funding, insurance advocacy and more. Through this process each family works with a caseworker to determine any unmet needs and the committee works to meet those needs.
The Foundation has made grants to local families and businesses to cover the cost of insurance deductibles; home repairs not covered by insurance; lost wages; farm animals, buildings and equipment; trees; mental health counseling; vehicles; and more. In the Spring of 2016 a matching grant program was offered as a way for families to replace pine trees, which are not typically covered by insurance.
On April 9, 2016 the Long Term Recovery hosted a community event to mark the one-year anniversary of the tornado. Over 300 residents attended the luncheon and enjoyed music, games, a community art project, and a visit from several comfort dogs. As our families continue to rebuild and move into their homes the Rochelle Area Community Foundation, as part of the Long Term Recovery Committee, will work diligently to ensure that the remaining funds are distributed properly.