LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The areas of San Miguel and Mora counties have been hit hard these last few months with wildfires and burn scar flooding. Now, a local foundation; the Castellano Foundation, saw a need and is filling a gap while communities wait for help from FEMA.
“We felt the need, a need to help,” said Ambrosio Castellano. Nearly four and a half months after the combined Calf Canyon and Hermit’s Peak wildfire began, it’s officially 100% contained, but the problems are still coming. “We’ve been able to sustain with help from members of the community,” said Castellano.
The community there has said they need physical boots on the ground helping, so the Castellano foundation stepped in. “We started our foundation in January 2020,” said Castellano.
When they started they originally wanted to be a helping hand for children in need but over the years they’ve changed course to help more people.
“We provide clothing, winter clothing, food, school supplies,” said Castellano. With the devastating wildfires and flash flooding they once again found themselves with a hole to fill. “We initially started collecting donations is where we started,” said Castellano.
That grew to providing meals, cutting fire lines and helping relocate cattle. “The forest service, and those individuals were just so spread thin that they just couldn’t get to some of these houses,” said Castellano.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit the foundation runs entirely on donations and grants and as soon as they sent out the call for help it was answered, not only from the community but nearby states too. “We recieved an outpouring of donations as far as Utah and California,” said Castellano.
The Las Vegas Community Foundation gave the Castellano’s a grant for Mora county residents to replace items lost in the fire. “We’re willing to do it so long as the money is there, we’re going to keep applying and keep trying to help as much as we can,” said Castellano.
So far they’ve distributed $10,000 worth of grant money, while they are doing everything they can to keep families afloat, this community needs more. “FEMA does need to step in and we’re not affiliated with federal agencies we’re not affiliated with state agencies but we’re willing to collaboratively work together,” said Castellano.
The first round of vouchers have a deadline of August 30th. The foundation is hoping to apply for another grant to help people living in the San Miguel county.