Poarch donates $75K to Alabama relief

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians recently donated $25,000 to the Franklin County, Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund. Pictured are Ron Sparks, Commissioner Rural Development; Keith Martin, a representative for the Poarch Creek Indians; Junior Ruiz, vice-president of the Franklin County Y.E.S. Foundation; Rebecca Massey, secretary of the Y.E.S. Foundation; Kathy Archer, treasurer of the Y.E.S. Foundation; and Ellis Davis, Franklin County’s liaison to Ron Sparks.|Photo by Kellie Singleton

The Franklin County, Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund established by the Franklin County Y.E.S. Foundation has now received enough funds to begin distributing money to families affected by the April 27 tornado.

According to the foundation’s vice-president, Junior Ruiz, the funds have come from generous individuals and groups from all over who are willing to help, including a Native American tribe who recently made very generous donations to the relief efforts.

Ruiz said Russellville resident Ellis Davis has known Ron Sparks, Alabama’s Commissioner for Rural Development, for many years and Davis found out from Sparks there was a group of people who wanted to help with the tornado relief efforts in the area.

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“A week and a half ago, representatives with the Poarch Creeks Indians came to the area to see the tornado damage first-hand,” Ruiz said. “We took them to Phil Campbell and out to Hackleburg and showed them the devastation left in the area from the tornado.”

Ruiz said after the representatives found out the needs of the affected communities, they held a special meeting of their tribal council and made the decision within a week to donate $25,000 to the Franklin County, Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund and $50,000 to the town of Hackleburg to help with their payroll expenses since most of the income from their tax base is gone.

“They told us they were in this for the long run and even though they’ve helped tremendously right now, they still want to help in the future,” Ruiz said. “It was a very generous and unselfish act for this tribe to donate such a large amount of money to help these victims and we are so grateful. I know the victims will be, too.”

Ruiz said he also appreciated Davis and Sparks for making the connection with the tribe and letting them know this area was in desperate need of assistance.

“This money will be able to help many people,” Ruiz said.

The first checks from the fund were distributed on Thursday evening to families who filled out applications and were approved by a committee consisting of Danny Brown, Phil Campbell representative; William Bishop, Oak Grove representative; Rebecca Massey, Y.E.S. Foundation secretary; Kathy Archer, Y.E.S. Foundation treasurer; and Ruiz.

“We have received a good bit of money, especially from generous donations like the ones made by the Poarch Creek Indians, but when there are so many families in need, it can run out quickly,” Ruiz said. “Donations are still needed.”

Tax-deductible donations to the Franklin County, Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund can be made at the following banks or any of their branches: Bank Independent, CB&S Bank, Community Spirit Bank, First Metro Bank and Valley State Bank.

People wishing to fill out applications for assistance will have to meet certain criteria before funds can be distributed. Applications can be picked up at the Probate Office in the Franklin County Courthouse, Phil Campbell City Hall, or from William Bishop in the Oak Grove community. Ruiz said other pick-up locations will be added at a later time.