Letter from Sacred Heart Staff

Almeda Fire Update from Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

How are you? We pray you are doing all right. Please let us know. In the coming days, we’ll continue trying to reach all our parishioners who lived in Talent and Phoenix, but please contact us as well if you’re able to. Also, dear parishioners, please keep up your good work of reaching out to those in need around you. You are making a huge difference out there.

To date, over 130 parish families – most of them Hispanic – have lost their homes, and we sadly expect that number to grow. In a recent meeting with Archbishop Sample, the Archbishop said that of all the parishes in the diocese, Sacred Heart Church has been the hardest hit by the fires. The Archdiocese has established an Archdiocesan fund called the Wildfire Relief Fund to help parishes and people impacted by the devastating wildfires in Oregon. Collected archdiocesan funds will be distributed to parishes in need, especially those such as Sacred Heart who are directly assisting people who have lost homes, been displaced and otherwise impacted by the fires.

Since many of you have been asking what the parish itself is doing to help right now, we wanted to fill you in. As you know, we could only offer the parish hall and SHS gym as emergency shelter the first two nights of evacuation, which we did. If someone is living in their RV and needs a place to park it, please have them get in touch with us. In addition, we were pleased this week to convert our two former rectories into longer term shelter for some parish families as they sort things out. We are doing what we can to help.

It wouldn’t have made much sense for the parish itself to become an emergency distribution center when we al- ready have St. Vincent de Paul as the parish’s main distribution center for clothes, food, and other needs. They know how to do it, they’re equipped to do it, and they can meet many of the immediate needs if they have enough volunteers, which they don’t right now. St. Vincent de Paul is a big part of Sacred Heart Church, supported by the parish monetarily and with volunteers from our parish. That’s where much of our parish’s good work is being done all the time but especially right now. Therefore, if you’re looking for a hands-on way to help out in the after- math of this disaster, please offer to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul. Likewise, we ask that all donations of mate- rial goods (sleeping bags, air mattresses, clothes, etc.) please be taken to St. Vincent de Paul or other distribution centers, rather than to the parish office.

At this time, cash donations are especially helpful to needy parishioners, although all donations are gratefully received (material donations going to distribution centers, please) and will be used. This weekend at all the masses, a wicker collection basket will be placed in front of the altar if you wish to donate at Mass toward the Sacred Heart fire relief fund. This is being done at the request of parishioners who are looking for a way to assist.

During the weekdays, if you wish to give a cash donation, please come directly to our parish front office, which is open on weekday mornings from 9AM – 1:00. For online giving to the parish fire relief fund, please go to our website (www.sacredheartmedford.org), click the online giving link and then click the “fire relief” tab. Your donations will be put into a parish fund designated for immediate local relief. We are also dedicating an existing parish charity fund to be for Sacred Heart fire disaster relief. The parish front office will be the center for both receiving donated funds as well as distributing those funds; the funds are intended for parishioners rather than the public at large. Our Administrator, Brenda Woodburn, has a donation and distribution system that is very thorough in its operation and accounting.

At the parish office, our key role is to coordinate needs with help or resources and distribute grocery cards and cash assistance. We have all been very busy, especially our bilingual front-office administrative assistance Bernice and the Spanish Sisters, as so many of those in pressing need are Spanish-speaking. Bernice is coordinating needs with help offered. Mary and Kelsey, with their large Spanish-speaking numbers in religious ed and Confirmation, have also been tracking people down and coordinating help. Brenda is handling the financial aspects and distribution of our parish’s cash assistance. Ann is contacting English-speaking parishioners and assisting Fr. Ken in various ways, such as this e-mail. In addition, Bernice and the Spanish Sisters are coordinating through La Clinica to ensure that the Hispanic community is being reached and assisted as much as possible. Other local churches who do not have Hispanic members have also contacted us to see what they can do for this hard-hit population. Accordingly, Bernice and the Sisters have been coordinating aid not only within the Sacred Heart parish community, but also within the whole city. In addition, If someone lacks transportation, you might also find the staff driving folks to St. Vincent de Paul or shopping for them for needed items.

One of our parishioners, Aimee Arnold, has put together an extensive list of resources throughout the valley and updates it every 24 hours. Because it can be incredibly helpful at a time like this to have resource information organized and in one handout, Aimee’s information is being shared throughout southern Oregon and blessing many people. The handout is available in Spanish and English and can be found outside the office and after Masses, plus on our website. If we can, we will also try to help folks navigate resource options, if needed.  Resource link >> English Version | Spanish Version

Thank you for your support and prayers for all those who are suffering from this tragic disaster. Thank you for all the assistance you are extending. As it continues to sink in just how devastated our community is, we are eager and ready to help in any way we can. Just let us know, please. Thank you, and may God bless everyone with safety, shelter, and hope.

With our love and gratitude,
The Sacred Heart Staff

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