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Funds aim to recruit minority volunteers for stream health

Wells Fargo donated $8,245 to the Milwaukie-based nonprofit Johnson Creek Watershed Council in support of its 2014 volunteer program.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: TOM UNGER - Wells Fargo employee Gary Klein (left) delivers the grant funds to JCWC headquarters and Executive Director Matt Clark.Amy Lodholz, JCWC volunteer and outreach coordinator, said the watershed council knows from U.S. Census data that its volunteer base doesn’t yet reflect the broad diversity of the watershed’s 180,000 residents. Executive Director Matt Clark speaks Spanish, and Riparian Program Manager Noah Jenkins speaks Russian, so JCWC employees already have reached out to minority communities. After successful efforts such as St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s parking-lot depaving project, the council will use the Wells Fargo funds to recruit more volunteers from among local residents who don’t speak English.

“We want to focus on residents who we don’t hear much from,” Lodholz said. “It’s really a passion project for us, and it’s great to be able to connect with people who don’t speak English as a first language, but really care about Johnson Creek.”

Four volunteer events next year will focus on connecting with low-income and diverse populations. Volunteers will assist with weeding, mulching and replanting along 20 highest-priority sites for salmon-run restoration nearest their churches or community centers.

Next year JCWC will reach out to several new partnering agencies in efforts to more effectively engage with community members from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds. The organization’s goal also is to promote restoration and stewardship of a healthy Johnson Creek Watershed through widespread community engagement in reducing stream temperatures that can kill fish. More information is posted at JCWC.org.