April 2018 Community Champion Melody Osburn
As one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a "Community Champion" every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.
Melody Osburn is this month's Community Champion. Melody is the coordinator of the Potter Valley Disaster Resource Center, a role she selflessly took on in the midst of crisis. Potter Valley is a small rural community in Mendocino County. Although severely impacted during the October 2017 fires, the community was not often featured in statewide news. Even the Mendocino County Food Bank hadn’t heard about the fires in Potter Valley until Melody called to ask for their help.
The isolation of Potter Valley is why many people choose to live there, nestled between forested hills and with the Russian River running through, it is a gorgeous community. But the isolation can be challenging when it comes to accessing services and receiving assistance—and that’s what Melody understood unequivocally.
After evacuees were able to return, the Potter Valley Youth and Community Center donated a long-vacant building to Melody to set up a resource center. Melody and volunteers got the word out and started accepting and sorting donations. She was at the Resource Center every day, staying open late so people could come after work, listening to the stories of everyone who came in, documenting their losses and making lists of their needs. She gave food to people whose stocks of food had rotted in their refrigerators and freezers during the power outages. She helped find homes for pigs and horses where barns had burned. She organized the due dates for various disaster assistance programs and posted contact reminders and encouragement. She advocated for people who had lost everything and were afraid to seek federally based FEMA services due to potential information sharing with ICE.
Part of what makes Melody an outstanding community champion is not only did she help victims of the fires, but she provided an avenue for the whole community in and around Potter Valley to help. After a disaster there is an outpouring of love and concern, but often, people don’t quite know where to go or what to do to help. Melody provided a place for people to go and a list of things to do. Volunteers from a nearby church offered counseling – a husband and wife team did the cooking, a doctor sorted medical supply donations and local business Soil King donated everything from children’s clothes to propane tanks.
The road to recovery continues to be long and Melody is still volunteering her time at the Potter Valley Disaster Resource Center. You can find the Potter Valley Disaster Resource Center at 10175 Main St. Potter Valley. Their phone number is (707) ) 743-1188, and if you would like to donate items please review the needs list; Melody posts it periodically on the center’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pottervalleydrc/.
If you have a recommendation for a "Community Champion," please send their name, along with information about their good work, to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 463-5770.