When the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March, the Camas-Washougal Community Chest had just announced the award of $110,000 in grants to 28 local nonprofits offering services in Camas and Washougal. Ten of those grants supported essential services, such as weekend food backpack programs, aid to homeless
families, meals, rent and utility assistance to low-income residents, and secure shelter for at-risk youth. The other 18 grants supported enrichment programs, such as summer reading programs, a foster youth summer camp, performing arts programs, and natural resource education.

In early April, the Camas Sister City Organization returned their grant award because their program had been canceled. When this was announced at the next board meeting, board members wondered whether other grant recipients might be in a similar situation. If so, they could reallocate those funds to the nonprofits providing essential services in Camas and Washougal. With local school closures and a rising unemployment rate, the need for essential services (food, housing, utility assistance) had surely risen.

The Community Chest reached out to all of their grant recipients to find out who might be able to return funds and who had seen increased need for essential services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, $20,500 in grant funds were returned and they received applications for 7 emergency grants.

There was enough need that the Community Chest decided to add in some recent donations and awarded a total of $30,000 in supplemental grants. This brings their 2020 grant total to $119,500, a new record. Although CWCC is saddened that 9 nonprofits will not be able to deliver some or all of their enrichment services this year, CWCC is pleased to announce it is awarding supplemental grants to these seven local charities:

  • Inter-Faith Treasure House – $5,000 for their school food backpack program and free meals served
  • Children’s Home Society of Washington at the East County Family Resource Center – $5,000 for
    their school food backpack program
  • Clark County Veterans Assistance Center – $2,500 for food boxes and free meals for veterans
  • Meals on Wheels People – $2,000 to provide meals for seniors
  • Impact CW / St. Matthews Lutheran Church – $3,500 to provide food assistance for families in need
  • REACH Community Development – $3,000 to provide school supplies for students and food, rent and utility assistance to low-income families
  • Family Promise of Clark County – $9,000 to provide temporary housing and food and hygiene assistance for homeless families

The Community Chest’s Co-President, Joelle Scheldorf, stated, “The closure of schools and associated
loss of food security for children, combined with the increase in unemployment and impact of the illness
itself, has had a devastating effect on our community. The Community Chest board knew that we had to
act. Together with the grant recipients who were able to return funds, we were able to pivot and quickly
fund relief efforts for local residents. These are trying times and we’re glad that we were able to find a
way to help the nonprofits who provide essential services locally.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Community Chest in other ways. With the current economic
downturn and uncertainty about the possibility of holding large events, they have canceled two 2020
fundraising events – the Outlaw Festival in June and the Dinner in White on the Columbia event in
September. Bolt Minister, co-President of the CWCC and host of the family-friendly Outlaw Festival at
54° 40’ Brewing in Washougal is already making plans for the Outlaw Festival in 2021. The Dinner in
White on the Columbia has been rescheduled for September, 2021.

The CWCC is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization for federal charitable tax deduction
purposes. To donate online or find more information about the Community Chest, visit their website at