MINNEAPOLIS—When I recently talked with Greater Public President Doug Eichten he spoke about how the public broadcast industry is a small but connected community, especially when their colleagues are affected by devastating events like natural disasters. That was a driving force behind the creation of the Colleagues Helping Colleagues program, particularly after the events of Hurricane Katrina.
“Immediately following that, people in the industry started asking, ‘How could we help our colleagues in stations that are directly affected by this horrible storm?’” Eichten said. “They wanted to make contributions that would go directly to employees of stations who had suffered losses.”
Ten years later, a number of public broadcasters are once again experiencing losses due to heavy storms, particularly in South Carolina and West Virginia. Having already issued some funds to those in South Carolina, and earlier in the year to public broadcasters in Houston, the available funds for Colleagues Helping Colleagues are lower at the moment than Eichten would like, which is why he is calling on some more contributions for those able and willing to offer their support.
Colleagues Helping Colleagues seeks to provide fast relief for its beneficiaries to replace things like furnaces, cars, and damaged houses. “The problem with most support, it arrives well after the fact and these people have to have some funds to replace their loss almost immediately,” Eichten explained. “They can’t wait for us to do a fundraising campaign.”
Currently, the funds stand at around $6,000. According to Eichten, the average amount for an individual case can go from between $2,000 and $4,000. Although the fund is administered by Greater Public, Eichten makes clear that every dollar made in contribution goes to those in public media who need it “to assist them in covering losses that would not be covered by insurance or a government agency like FEMA.”
Eichten describes how this is a way to support the larger connected public broadcast community, by assuring that these donations go to those in public radio or public television. He says that he encourages people to contribute to a wide variety of charities, “but this is one where they can reach directly to the people they may know or people who work in the same industry they do.”
For more information on how to contribute to Greater Public’s Colleagues Helping Colleagues fund, click here.