Oregon businesses join coalition to provide aid, strengthen the economy and alleviate hardship for immigrant Oregonians impacted by COVID-19
Portland, Ore. — The Oregon Worker Relief Fund coalition announced Tuesday that New Seasons Market and Portland General Electric Foundation (PGE Foundation) have each committed $25,000 to support the Oregon Worker Relief Fund. The additional funds come at a critical time as COVID-19 cases continue to spike among some immigrant communities and efforts to extend federal assistance to undocumented immigrants stall in Congress.
“This pandemic is unlike any economic challenge we’ve faced, and it requires public and private sectors to step up and support our community in unprecedented ways,” said Kregg Arntson, executive director, PGE Foundation. “For many immigrants in Oregon, options for financial assistance are scarce. We care deeply about the safety and stability of all our neighbors and encourage fellow businesses across the region to join us in contributing to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund.”
The Oregon Worker Relief Fund is supported by a broad coalition of individual donors, businesses, philanthropic organizations, and state and local funding.
“We place immense value on growing a sustainable and equitable food system,” said Chenoa Philabaum of New Seasons Market. “In learning about the Oregon Worker Relief Fund, we recognize that their work aligns with our commitment to using business as a force for good. We want to live in a region where food justice is achieved through anti-racism, which includes supporting those with little to no federal or state resources available to them, many of whom are critical to our regional food economy.”
Twenty community-based organizations are working quickly to distribute payments directly to Oregonians in need, fielding hundreds of new applications each day. As of today, the fund has delivered more than $20 million in disaster relief throughout Oregon’s immigrant communities.
To meet the tremendous and growing need for financial assistance, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund is seeking additional donations.
“As the pandemic exacerbates financial hardship for immigrant Oregonians, we are seeing a large and growing coalition of public agencies, foundations, businesses and individuals step up to help,” said Ramon Valdez, OWRF coalition spokesperson. “Two of our region’s most community-minded companies – PGE and New Seasons Market – are demonstrating their commitment to our community with support for the Oregon Worker Relief Fund. The magnitude of need for financial relief far outweighs available funding, even with these generous contributions. Every dollar we raise for the Oregon Worker Relief Fund strengthens our state’s economic ability to rebound and recover.”
Most relief recipients work in essential industries
One in eight workers in Oregon is an immigrant, making up an essential share of the state’s labor force across industries. Oregonians receiving relief through the OWRF are among the state’s essential workers, with the majority of relief recipients working in food service and agriculture, while significant portions work in the janitorial industry, construction and childcare.
Below, a full breakdown of relief recipients by employment industry:
|Janitorial & Housekeeping||20%|
The latest Oregon Worker Relief Fund data report includes information about relief payments by geography, industry, age, as well as other metrics.
Like other Oregonians, these immigrant workers pay income taxes, payroll taxes and property taxes. Undocumented Oregonians pay about $81 million annually in state and local taxes. Immigrant-led households paid more than $2.5 billion in federal and state taxes in 2014 alone.
The OWRF coalition has developed an innovative, rapid response infrastructure to reach community members across the entire state, adhere to all public health recommendations, and deliver aid rapidly. Community-based organizations cover different regions and impacted communities with trained personnel acting as “navigators” to interview and document the need.
The Oregon Worker Relief Fund is supported by state and local funding, businesses and nearly $1.5M from philanthropic organizations including Oregon Food Bank, Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Collins, MRG, Northwest Health Foundation and thousands of individual donors.
About the PGE Foundation
The PGE Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Portland General Electric. Founded in 1997, the foundation was created through an endowment with the expressed purpose of improving the quality of life for Oregonians. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $23 million to community organizations across the state.
About New Seasons Market
About New Seasons Market New Seasons Market is a friendly neighborhood grocery store that believes great-tasting, local food has the power to build community and enhance lives. From taking care of our staff, partners, neighborhoods and the environment, to growing a sustainable business, we’re doing what we love with a commitment to cultivate a strong community centered around food. Founded in 2000 by three families and 50 friends in Portland, OR, we’re now a team of nearly 4,000 passionate staff across 19 stores in Oregon, Washington and Northern California — serving a unique mix of locally sourced and organic items, classic grocery favorites, and chef made grab and go meal solutions. We’re proud of our progressive values—from offering industry-leading compensation and benefits, to committing 10 percent of our after-tax profits to the communities we serve. For more information, visit newseasonsmarket.com.