For more than 41 years, Plumas Bank has witnessed the impact of communities binding together in times of strife to help rebuild neighborhoods, uplift economies and unite individuals.
In 2021, when California’s largest single wildfire in the state’s history raged through more than 963,000 acres across five counties, many of Plumas Bank’s clients, team members and branch locations were caught in the fire’s path.
The devastation caused by the Dixie Fire hit close to home. During the first two months of the fire, one fifth of the bank’s employees were evacuated from their homes. More than half of Plumas Bank’s 14 branches were either in the fire’s path or heavily impacted by the toxic, smoke-filled air. Just as difficult, Plumas Bank clients in the area were devastated by the fire – their homes, their businesses, their generational cabins and properties, and their source of income. The fire destroyed the town of Greenville, California and Plumas Bank’s Greenville branch was one of only five buildings left standing.
The fire began in July 2021 and by August, the bank reached out to The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada (a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to philanthropic efforts) to establish the Dixie Fire Fund. The bank had been helping team members and clients with immediate crisis response and it was clear that long term funds would be needed to revitalize the area. As a community bank, Plumas Bank’s mission is to make local communities stronger and the Dixie Fire Fund is one way Plumas Bank is helping the region to survive and recover.
As of April 2022, the Dixie Fire Fund has raised more than $247,000. Plumas Bank is the fund’s largest single donor at $50,000. Plumas Bank applied to the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco to secure $25,000 in matching funds for the effort and Plumas Bank launched a media awareness campaign to give the fund visibility. The total dollars raised are modest in comparison to the need so Plumas Bank and Community Foundation of Northern Nevada (CFNN) joined the Dixie Fire Funders Roundtable to connect with other Dixie Fire funders and make those dollars count.
The Funders Roundtable is coordinated by North Valley Community Foundation based in Chico, California and brings together several organizations to strengthen the impact of the dollars they are awarding communities devastated by the Dixie Fire. Roundtable members include Plumas Bank, CFNN, Almanor Foundation, United Way, Common Good Community Foundation, Sobrato Philanthropies, Sierra Institute, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, and several others.
To better understand community needs following the Dixie Fire’s full containment in October 2021, the Funders Roundtable toured Dixie Fire affected areas and met with local crisis response organizations. The tour was joined by representatives from FEMA and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The Dixie Fire Fund inspired by Plumas Bank and administered by CFNN has awarded $81,000 so far. Learn more at plumasbank.com/dixiefirefund.
Maidu Summit Consortium – $10,000 award
The award will support a part-time staff position as the organization works to meet the needs of the local community.
The organization’s mission is to preserve, protect and promote the Mountain Maidu Homeland with a united voice. It envisions re-acquired ancestral lands as a vast and unique park system dedicated to education, healing, protection and ecosystem management based upon Maidu cultural and philosophic perspectives, as expressed through traditional ecology. Learn more at maidusummit.org.
Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce – $600 award
The award will provide support for disaster relief assistance and website development.
Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce is uniquely positioned to connect businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and government units to foster conversations around economic vitality and quality of life issues. The organization engages and supports legislation designed to strengthen a positive business environment in the communities it serves. Learn more at indianvalleychamber.com.
Plumas Rural Services – Additional $5,000 award
Initially awarded $25,000 in 2021, Plumas Rural services is receiving a second grant from CFNN Plumas Rural Services. These funds will support staffing and operational expenses for Rebuilding Greenville Resource Center (RGRC). The funding is pooled alongside additional donations from the Almanor Foundation, North Valley Community Foundation, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada and Sobrato.
Plumas Rural Services is a Northeastern California community based, non-profit organization providing services and opportunities for the well-being of local residents and families to improve quality of life and self-sufficiency by promoting health, education, prevention and treatment. Learn more at plumasruralservices.org.
Plumas Strong – $10,000 award
Funds are supporting Plumas Strong Greenville Wildfire Recovery Planning efforts. The funding will be pooled alongside the Common Good Foundation, Sierra Institute, Almanor Foundation, North Valley Community Foundation and Sobrato.
Plumas Strong’s mission is to enrich the lives of children, families and businesses in Indian Valley, California and throughout Plumas County by providing support for programs to enhance community vitality. Learn more at plumasstrong.com.
Plumas Rural Services – $25,000 award
Plumas Rural Services is a Northeastern California community based, non-profit organization providing services and opportunities for the well-being of local residents and families to improve quality of life and self-sufficiency by promoting health, education, prevention and treatment.
Learn more about Plumas Rural Services.
Dixie Fire Funds granted by The Community Foundation will provide gift cards for basic needs (food, supplies, etc.) to local families impacted by the Dixie Fire. Whenever possible, gift cards will be purchased from local businesses to help with economic recovery in the area as well.
Westwood Family Resource Center – $25,000 award
An organization under the umbrella of Communities United for Children and Families, the Westwood Family Resource Center is providing basic needs assistance to area families including a food pantry. The grant will support these services including continuing community outreach programs and administrative costs.
Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce – $5,000 award
The Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary organization of individuals and businesses whose primary mission is to advance the commercial, financial, industrial, and civic interests of the Lake Almanor Basin.
With ongoing news of the Dixie Fire devastation, many vacationers may be hesitant to plan their trips, reunions, weddings and weekend getaways to the region. The Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign to help return tourism to the area. The Community Foundation awarded $5000 to support the campaign’s advertising reach. Plumas Bank granted an additional $5000 on behalf of branches in Chester, Quincy and Portola to support the campaign. Learn more at Discover Plumas County.
Almanor Basin Food Pantry – $1,000 award
Funds granted (and pooled with other funders) will support the purchase of a generator for commercial freezers and refrigerators. ALBP works to combat local food insecurity through food distribution, outreach and education.
Plumas Bank’s approach to the disaster recovery has been to convene strong partners. We’re collaborating with other funders so we’re not duplicating efforts and with funders who have expertise in wildfire recovery. We are working to ensure the local communities we serve are getting what they need. We are committed to building the relationships that will bring back the Northeastern California communities that founded Plumas Bank.
It’s been more than six months since the fire was contained, but the rebuilding process will take years. For Plumas Bank, we’re here for good and our mission is to make our local communities stronger. We will always look for ways to positively impact the region, and we will be instrumental in helping our region respond to any challenge – wildfires, pandemic, economic variability – that impacts the communities we serve.
We are grateful for CFNN’s expertise to quickly establish the Dixie Fire Fund so monies could be raised from near and far to support the ongoing recovery of the vibrant and diverse communities of Northeastern California.