Hurricane Irene Co-op Recovery Fund
Regions throughout the continental United States were hit by a devastating series of storms, tornadoes, floods and wildfires in 2011. Hurricane Irene’s victims included co-ops and their members and suppliers. The devastation was massive, with flooding and wind damage that inundated both urban and rural areas from North Carolina to Vermont. The Fund directed tax-deductible contributions specifically to cooperative businesses along the East Coast and throughout New England who experienced losses. The Fund also assisted organic farmers who are prime suppliers to food cooperatives. Seven grants were made and they represent a cross-sector of the New England cooperative community. The recipients were Brattleboro Food Co-op and food co-op suppliers Deep Root Organic Co-op, Arethusa Farm, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Robeth Holsteins, Liberty Hill Farm, River Berry Farm, and Dog River Farm.
CDF partnered on this fund drive with its colleagues in the cooperative community, both nationally and in the region to assure the maximum possible impact. CDF’s primary points of contact in the affected area were the Cooperative Fund of New England, the Neighboring Food Cooperative Association, and the National Cooperative Grocers Association. These partners helped to identify the needs and disburse funds to those with the greatest needs. The seed money for the Fund came from $5,000 contributions from both the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) and the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Additional resources were made available through the merger of the Hurricane Irene Fund with the disaster assistance fund from the North Country Cooperative Foundation.
The Spring Storms of 2011 Cooperative Recovery Fund
In the Spring of 2011, regions throughout the continental United States were hit by a devastating series of storms, tornadoes, floods and wildfires. Especially hard hit have been states in the South, but the bad weather continued with massive flooding in the Mississippi River Basin and wildfires and drought in other parts of the country taking a similar toll. The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) launched a fund drive to provide support for cooperatives and their members who were victims of the storms, floods and wildfires. The fund drive closed in September 2011 with the award of a grant for $4,300 to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/LAF for use is assisting cooperatives in the Gulf Coast region that experienced devastating losses from the 2011 spring storms.
Japanese Cooperative Recovery Fund
On March 12, the day after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) was ready to accept donations to aid Japanese cooperators and cooperatives.
Japan is home to the Japanese Consumers Cooperative Union (JCCU), the organization that donated the seed money for CDF’s Kagawa Fund, which has made over $800,000 in loans to expand student housing co-ops across the United States. In the areas hardest hit there are university, agriculture, fishery, and consumer cooperatives. Some of Japan’s consumer co-ops were among the structures heavily damaged by the tsunami and the JCCU has set up a task force to monitor the situation of its members and to assist with rebuilding. The Miyagi Co-op in Sendai reported that services are only available at 13 of their 48 stores; many branches are closed because their distribution centers are not fully operational due to the earthquake. Of the Iwate Co-op’s 11 stores, one is heavily damaged and many of the others are open only during the day due to the lack of electricity. There is not much information available on Co-op Fukushima because of communications problems. The city of Fukushima has no electricity or water.
A check for $120,000 was presented to JCCU President Mr. Asada Katsumi by NCBA board member Lindy Bannister during the November 2011 ICA meeting in Cancun. This donation was used for the School Library Project to provide books, libraries, and facilities for reading events for school children in the area hit by the tsunami.
In April 2010 the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) made three grants totaling $62,980 from its Co-op Emergency Fund to help cooperators in Haiti recover and rebuild after the earthquake:
- World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to help rebuild the Haitian credit union community ($23,730)
- NRECA International Foundation to help rebuild the electric generation and distribution system, countrywide, but with an initial focus on the Port-au-Prince area ($24,250)
- ACDI/VOCA to do cooperative development in the rural, southeastern part of Haiti ($15,000)
The projects for which the funds were used are major initiatives for which substantial additional public and private sector funds are being committed. The CDF grant awards will primarily cover the costs of volunteers with special expertise to travel to Haiti and participate in the rebuilding. Some of the grant to WOCCU was used to provide tents to temporarily house credit union employees and their families, allowing credit union staff to return to work and credit unions to resume operations.
Said Michel Wilner, credit union employee, “With the WOCCU tent, I was able to return with my family to my own plot of land and install our tent on the ruin of my house. We are happy my family finally came back together and we recovered our dignity.”
Repairing a credit union that was damaged by the earthquake
NRECA International Foundation sent a volunteer crew of linemen who trained 102 local linemen on operating the digger truck and climbing with the proper equipment.
ACDI/VOCA consulted with local partners and town mayors to identify needs and employment opportunities. As a result, is working with Ateliers Pilotes de Technologie (APTECH), a local Haitian organization that trains technicians and artisans to promote stable and projective job creation in southeastern Haiti. APTECH received funds for classes and materials to train 40 students, half men and half women, over six months in earthquake- and hurricane-resistant construction skills. It will help graduates find jobs by placing them with construction companies and private builders. Some of the newly-trained technicians are building an elementary school.
Photo courtesy of ACDI/VOCA
Photo courtesy of ACDI/VOCA
Part of Co-op Emergency/Disaster Recovery Fund Success Stories
The Katrina Cooperative Recovery Fund was established by the Cooperative Development Foundation in September 2005 to help the long-term recovery of rural areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. It received and gave out $119,200 to assist cooperatives and their members and groups interested in forming cooperatives. All contributions went to this effort; nothing was taken in administrative or any other fee.
$113,000 went to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC), a cooperative development organization active in 10 Southern states and CDF’s on-the-ground partner. FSC took this opportunity to introduce cooperative development as a collective, alternative development strategy. The grants received by FSC were used for:
- distribution of relief checks
- assistance with applying for benefits
- a feasibility study for and technical assistance to a fishing cooperative in Plaquemines Parish
- computer and workforce development
- technical assistance and resource development to help with long-term and permanent recovery and rebuilding lives ad communities using the cooperative model
- cooperative development training for economic developers and people and communities interested in starting cooperatives to help rebuild; areas included worker, housing, food, fishing, dairy, marketing, and production cooperatives
- work with credit unions to help them raise resources to help families with loans for recovery from Katrina damage
$6200 went to CooperationWorks, a national network of cooperative development organizations. It was used for scholarships so economic developers from the Gulf region who were working on economic and community recovery initiatives in the Gulf could attend two of CooperationWorks’ week-long training sessions in cooperative development. This enables them to introduce the cooperative business model as they help with economic recovery.