When 2020s devastating pandemic and wildfires hit the working class in Oregon and Southwest Washington, they reached out to their union. In turn, their union called upon Labor’s Community Service Agency (LCSA) to help.
And LCSA stepped up big time.
In a year unlike any other in more than a generation, LCSA pumped more than $325,000 of assistance into those communities, representing 1,800 families and 7,000 adults and children served. Most notably, LCSA sent out close to $120,000 in housing stability aid and $85,000 in emergency food resources.
The overall emergency response represents a 70% increase in aid compared to 2019, directly representing the tremendous amount of need that working families faced in 2020.
“Whether it was housing stability assistance, emergency food cards, childcare cost coverage, or increased internet bills for distance learning, LCSA staff dedicated their whole selves to standing with working families throughout the disruptions of 2020,” said Executive Director Eryn Byram.
LCSA placed a focus on the hardest impacted unions, dedicating reserved funds for their membership and VIP slots at the Presents from Partners holiday event. In addition, early in the pandemic LCSA moved quickly to provide food resources to unions with membership heavy in language barriers — causing increased difficulty in filing for their unemployment benefits.
Last year’s Presents from Partners holiday program provided toys and food to over 1,000 children, who received a holiday sack full of toys and union-retiree handcrafted stockings. Their families were gifted a Spin catered holiday meal, IBEW Credit Union sponsored parent gifts, and an extra $100 in Fred Meyer gift cards for other needs donated by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 and the entire labor movement. This included, for the first time, union families in Southern Oregon, where the Southern Oregon Central Labor Chapter distributed gifts to those who had been impacted by wildfires and COVID.
“To the hundreds of unions, individuals, and ally organizations that gave in any way to LCSA in 2020, thank you,” Byram said. “Your solidarity is the only reason we served thousands in our community through each devastation that hit working families. There is no way to list each of you, although I wish I could. If you donated, volunteered, or made sure a struggling union member made their way to us for a helping hand, you are a part of Labor’s Community Service Agency and the important work that we do.”
LCSA is a non-profit funded in part by United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. It operates under the auspices of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and a 16-person board of directors.