Jan Barber. Courtesy photo

Jan Barber. Courtesy photo

Emergency grant brings relief to Bonney Lake wildfire evacuees

The Mirror’s Hometown Hero for September is Federal Way Lions Club member Jan Barber

In the aftermath of Western Washington’s recent wildfires, the Federal Way Lions Club has stepped up to help a neighboring club.

In early September, more than 147 Bonney Lake residents were evacuated due to the Sumner Grade Fire that burned about 500 acres since Sept. 7. The fire is now 95% contained. Many of these displaced residents sought shelter in nearby South King County cities.

Last week, the Lions Club International Foundation awarded $10,000 as an emergency grant to the Bonney Lake Lions Club. These funds will assist with food, water and other necessities.

Federal Way Lions Club member Jan Barber researched and wrote this emergency funds grant shortly after news of the devastation was reported, with the help of Tom Watson, president of the Bonney Lake Lions Club. Watson coordinated with four local organizations and the American Red Cross to provide additional resources for those displaced.

Barber said a past mentor, Dorothy Burt, encouraged the idea. Barber has frequented the Bonney Lake area, playing guitar or other musical performances and enjoying lunches with fellow musicians, which prompted her to find a way to help.

“I kind of felt like this is a place where I know people, where I drive to and visit often,” said Barber, the Mirror’s Hometown Hero for September. “I wish I could’ve helped all the people suffering from fires, but this is something that we could do.”

As a member of the Federal Way Lions Club for two years, Barber originally joined for the support of Make Music Federal Way, a free live musical celebration on the longest day of the year with concerts on streets, sidewalks and all around town.

Past events have been successes due to support from the City of Federal Way allowing the event to be hosted in Town Square Park. The very first year was supported by a 4Culture grant that Barber applied for.

While the grant writing process can be headache-inducing at times, the benefit outweighs the effort, said Barber, who holds an MBA from the University of Iowa.

“It’s been frustrating to read about the fires and be sitting inside because of the smoke,” she said. “It energized me to know there was something I could do.”

Lions Club International Foundation emergency grants are submitted by district governors, who receive and monitor the funding. Barber’s grant was emailed to District Governor Donna Murr of Lacey, who submitted the grant application on Sept. 12.

Emergency grants in amounts up to $10,000 are available to help Lions districts with the distribution of immediate relief aid to victims of serious natural disasters where 100 or more people have been displaced or affected.

In past years, the Federal Way Lions Club has donated more than $19,000 in scholarships to local students collected from their annual Lions Club Car Show fundraiser.

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