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Organizations raise funds for undocumented fire victims

UndocuFund+is+just+one+of+several+organizations+raising+money+for+undocumented+fire+victims.
UndocuFund is just one of several organizations raising money for undocumented fire victims.

UndocuFund is just one of several organizations raising money for undocumented fire victims.

Courtesy of UndocuFund

Courtesy of UndocuFund

UndocuFund is just one of several organizations raising money for undocumented fire victims.

Jose Gonzalez, Staff Writer

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In response to the destruction the North Bay fires caused to the community of undocumented immigrants, the UndocuFund program began raising funds to help victims of the fire who are not represented and who can not receive federal assistance.

An estimated 38,500 undocumented immigrants live in Sonoma County and those who suffered losses in the natural disaster last month do not qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of their immigration status.

UndocuFund is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to undocumented residents of Sonoma County affected by wildfires. The fund will help families with temporary housing, home repairs, rent, groceries, essential household items, cleaning supplies, medical and dental expenses, tools and school supplies.

Program coordinator Omar Medina, 38, said his organization will also provide educational materials to undocumented SRJC students. People who live in Sonoma County with limited English proficiency and a fear of deportation are reluctant to seek help. In some cases, the evacuated immigrants refused to enter the shelters for fear of deportation, said Sheriff Rob Giordano.            

“We want to make sure that people submit the application,” said Medina. “We want them to know that they are not afraid to come and submit an application because we are not working with any government agency.”

The organization aims to raise $ 5 million for undocumented families and has so far raised almost $ 1 million from more than 4,000 donors. As of November 11, UndocuFund had received more than 100 requests for financial assistance.

Leith Ocean, 20, is a student at the Santa Rosa school who is involved with UndocuFund. “Regarding my role, the Graton Day Labor center is the fiscal sponsor NBIYU (North Bay Immigrant Youth Union) so they accept our grants because they are non-profit and grassroots,” said Ocean. “Together with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA) we raised about $ 22,000 for them and connected the undocumented with the fund.”

The UndocuFund week-long application process uses a simple admission form, which is completed at the application clinics with the help of partner organizations in the community.

Community partners include: Healdsburg Heart, Defense and Vital Immigrant Defense Services (VIDAS) and the County of One Hundred Sonoma. According to the organization’s website, “Upon completion of a thorough review process and the final review and approval of the steering committee, the funds are distributed to families and people in need according to established criteria and guidelines.”

All money raised will be donated to undocumented families affected or displaced by the fire.

“The first check we gave was for a family that needed a deposit for a new house,” Medina said. “We are raising money for long-term recovery. So far, we are looking for volunteers so they can help us spread the word about UndocuFund.”

The next application clinic will be 10 a.m. at 3 p.m. next Saturday, November 18 at the California Human Development Center at 3315 Airway Dr.

More information about UndocuFund can be found at undocufund.org.

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Organizations raise funds for undocumented fire victims