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Pre-COVID, staff gathers at the main bar at Double Mountain in this 2019 photo. “We are a family at Double and this is harkening back to simpler times,” said brewery spokesman Hames Ellerbe.

As the community comes to terms with the COVID-19 health crisis, the Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom staff are also experiencing hardship. 

A group of investors from Double Mountain wanted to find a way to give back to the employees who have worked so hard over the years to make the brewery a success, according to a brewery press release. A non-profit foundation was formed after the government closure of dine-in restaurants to assist laid off employees. The Double Mountain Foundation provides assistance to current and former Double Mountain staff in need of help with shelter, food, and healthcare costs. The foundation is seeking additional funding to establish a broader program that will include food assistance for hospitality workers throughout the Hood River and Gorge community displaced by this crisis.

On  April 24, United Way of Columbia Gorge awarded a $7,500 grant to purchase gift cards for groceries at local grocery stores and the Gorge Grown farmers market to directly aid staff that are in financial distress.

“The foundation is extremely grateful to this generous gift from the local community and hopes to expand our donations to reach more restaurant and hospitality workers in the gorge,” said Matt Swihbart, brewery founder and foundation board member.

All funds raised will be distributed as direct support to eligible applicants in some of the following ways: Gift cards for groceries/gas/home supplies, rent, utilities, health insurance, medical supplies, car payments, transportation costs, and child care.  There is room in the criteria to help in other ways on a case-by-case basis in acute instances of crisis, said the press release. All grants will be paid directly to vendors or through gift cards.

“As I’ve been reaching out to many restaurant owners, I hear a very similar story of hard working staff that have been laid off, but through the complexity of the overwhelmed unemployment system, still have received no assistance. It is heartbreaking. These families are struggling every day to make ends meet and put food on the table," Swihart said.

Individuals or groups that would like to make a donation can find a link at doublemountainbrewery.com/doublemountain-foundation or can be mailed to Double Mountain Foundation, PO Box 1660, Hood River, OR 97031.

The foundation has applied to the IRS for status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and awaits tax-exempt certification. Donations are not guaranteed to be tax deductible until that status is confirmed.

The foundation's mission is to provide financial assistance for current and former Double Mountain employees facing severe impacts on their personal lives during this crisis and provide a platform to assist the staff in the future for other traumatic events, said Swihart.

“We are a community service organization that can assist our local community with charitable projects that benefit the lives of our citizens to make our towns a thriving place to live."

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