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Helping evacuees help evacuees

Jake Brown, founder of Bare Sole Project, was on sabbatical in Springfield, Oregon working on an app he was developing when the fires started. “I wanted to be on the fire line originally, but unfortunately I ended up breaking my wrist, so that’s how I ended up volunteering,” he explained.

Jake Brown

Founder, Bare Sole Project

Jake volunteered at the Love First Evacuation Site, coordinating supply distribution and organizing donations. He quickly realized that while the Red Cross meant well and had many resources, they weren’t able to help people on an individual basis. He began taking on those cases that slipped through the cracks.

But there’s only so much one man can do alone. “If what you care about is those people’s well being, you have to ask for help,” Jake said. So that’s exactly what he did. He set up a donate button on his website and created a gofundme for people to donate funds to help with immediate needs for evacuees in Lane County, Oregon. Other evacuation site volunteers joined forces to help as well.

Casey Mayer, evacuee placement coordinator for Bare Sole Project, met Jake through the organizer at the evacuation site. Casey, a Coos Bay native who moved to Eugene when he was 10, has always been involved in environmental activism. “When the call came for volunteers when the fire started, I jumped to help,” he explained. The evacuee relief site Casey and Jake both volunteered at was soon overflowing with donations, but without proper organization, it wouldn’t do any good. That’s where Casey came in. He helped move the donations from Silke Field to the Masonic lodge, a larger location where they can be more effectively sorted and distributed. Now that that’s taken care of, he and Jake have another focus – disability centered relief.

In the last five days, Bare Sole Project received 30 requests for immediate assistance. So far, they have been able to assist 20 Holiday Farm Fire evacuees. At this point, Bare Sole Project is limited only by available funds.

Bare Sole Project’s main relief services are prepaid hotel rooms for evacuees and free gift cards to local stores and restaurants, sucks as Walmart, Albertsons, Safeway, Starbucks, etc. Bare Sole Project does not discriminate against anyone needing help, but their focus is on people with some sort of disability who may not have anywhere else to turn for assistance.

In line with their mission statement “Promoting a global community and conscious lifestyle,” Jake works with the evacuees to support long term community healing. “Let’s stop thinking about how we can’t afford the hotel room,” he said. “The storm is coming. We gotta get shelter built.”

For stories about evacuees Bare Sole Project is helping, follow @baresoleproject on Instagram.

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