$15,000 given to Southern Oregon families displaced by fires
Global Empowerment Mission spoke with families at Jackson County Expo who were displaced on Sept. 19. (KTVL/Megan Willgoos){p}{/p}

Global Empowerment Mission (GEM), a disaster relief non-profit, handed out $15,000 to displaced families in Southern Oregon that have been impacted by wildfires in the region. 

"Quick cash to give people a little jumpstart right now, so we're distributing basically $300 to $400 that has lost their home in the Phoenix fire," President of GEM Michael Caponni said. 

GEM is has served 22 different countries through natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Australia Fires.


"We lost our entire home, um, it burned down about 10:30 at night. We got to see and watch it burn down, from people who were sharing on social media," Joe Dunbar

Dunbar and his wife Kat Penn were one of the families given a donation from GEM. The couple lived in their Talent home for 10 years and were only able to save their cats and a few important documents from the fire. 

"My boss Teresa Pollman at IMD is working with this organization and it's just been amazing that they're helping out and giving out so much," Dunbar said. 


In November 2018, GEM stayed in Paradise, Calif. for a year after the fire, Campfire, destroyed almost 19,000 buildings. Southern Oregon has not seen something like this up until the Almeda Fire that has taken almost 2400 homes in the Phoenix area. 

"I've been in the valley for a long time and I've never seen anything like this. And, I think we've all felt like how can we help, what can we do, but you don't really have a direction," President of IMD Models and Talent Teresa Pollman.

Pollman said a friend told her about GEM and was excited to bring this help into the valley. 

"They are just an amazing group of people who come together for communities," Pollman said. "I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to help the community and to help them get back on their feet." 

Oregon Commissioner Rick Dyer came to the event when Pollman told him about the donations that were handed out at the Jackson County Expo Center on Sept. 19. 

"I said absolutely, I'll facilitate that effort as much as I possibly can," Dyer said. "We're looking to support and help whoever needs it." 

Dyer said this is only one of the kind acts of many that he has seen in the community since the fires. 

"I don't think anybody could have imagined this devastation. It's still tough to really take it all in. But, I think one of things that I come to appreciate is the way the community has come together and there's a lot of efforts like this," Rick Dyer


GEM is partnering with companies in the area to continue providing anything from tents to jackets for displaced families over the next few months. Caponni said he has hope in the community recovering quickly after spending the last three days in Oregon handing out money to families in need. 

"I have a lot of hope here, you know, I think, um, people have a really good attitude, everyone we have met is really positive. And I really see that everyone is going to get through this and we're going to support you as much as we can," Michael Capponi

If you're interested in donating to GEM, head to their website here. 

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