Two Rivers Strong makes first payouts to arson survivors

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Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 9:25 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Two Rivers Strong, a nonprofit charity, payed out its first grants to the survivors of the Two Rivers arson fires at the Two Rivers Community Center.

Two Rivers strong has worked to raise funds for the survivors of the attacks since August 8, 2021. Just over a year later, the organization has become a nonprofit and has raised $17,681.77. On Friday, September 9, those funds were distributed to survivors of the Two Rivers arson fires that occurred in July and August of 2021. There were 8 properties attacked during the string of arsons, damaging 5 properties of 5 families, 2 community associations and 1 local business.

Two Rivers Strong began it’s mission to help rebuild the community after the attacks by selling apparel and eventually registering as a business. As the months went on and the funding needs remained low, the organization registered as a 501-c3 nonprofit with the State of Alaska, then with the Internal Revenue Service. The Two Rivers Strong nonprofit charity allows them to partner with corporations and receive increased funding which in turn helps the community of Two Rivers.

Some of the arson victims have had assistance in rebuilding their homes and businesses thanks to help from their community but the financial burden has had a lasting toll. Some of the structures that burned did not have insurance leaving the owners in a difficult situation.

“When the building burned down, we had just lost our insurance, so we are not getting money back from the insurance to help build, so we need everything that we can get,” said Russell Williams the president of Two Rivers Grange #3, another local nonprofit. That organization lost the entirety of their building.

Charlotte Strickland the vice president of Two Rivers Grange #3 followed up saying, “this money will get put away towards the building and we’re hoping to get another grant to go with it so that we can build another building similar to this one so that we can continue to work with our community and our youth.” However, the continued work of Two Rivers Strong has provided some relief.

Looking to what lies ahead for Two Rivers Strong, Mac Lebeau, the organization’s founder, said, “[they] are looking to expand into scholarships for trade schools and other community programs in Two Rivers.” Lebeau also spoke on the gratitude expressed by the organization and the community, “the support that the community is giving us is very heartfelt and we thank you. We could not do this without you so thank you.”

Moving forward with fund raising efforts, Two Rivers Strong will have an auction or a raffle for a 9mm pistol and ammunition in the coming weeks.