Two Walla Walla (WA) Groups Get Grant Money from Local Heroes Program

Firefighters stand with a large check.
Photo/Gesa Credit Union

Emry Dinman

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wash.


Two Walla Walla organizations have received a total of $7,000 through the Gesa Credit Union Local Heroes Grant Award, a statewide grant program that disperses funds to support “local heroes” in Washington.

The city of Walla Walla Fire Department received $5,000 in grants, while the Walla Walla City/County Ambulance received $2,000. In all, 23 organizations across the state received $110,000 in funds through the program, including fire departments and foundations supporting schools, veterans and law enforcement.

Related: Is Your Organization Leaving Money on the Table?

The program was launched in June, and organizations were invited to submit video applications for up to $5,000 grants. During the summer, wiping sweat off from his forehead on a hot day, Walla Walla firefighter/paramedic Cody Maine, who had recently become a community paramedic, made his pitch to Gesa.

“My job is to go out and see those high utilizers of emergency services whether 911 or the emergency department and try to figure out what their social barrier is,” Maine said in the video submitted to Gesa. “That might be finding them a doctor, that might be getting them to a therapist, that might be helping them out with medications or getting them simple tools like an at-home blood pressure cuff or a pulse oximeter.”

But one thing Maine has been unable to do is hook up patients to a mobile cardiac monitor and look at the health of their heart, he said.

“A paramedic without a heart monitor? That’s like a samurai warrior without his katana,” Maine said.

The Walla Walla City/County Ambulance also requested funds to support the community paramedic system, including for a cooler for the paramedic to be able to use to pass out drinking water to community members during high heat events. Leftover funds will be used to broadly support the program.

The funds for the Local Heroes Grant Award come from the Local Heroes co-branded Gesa Visa Debit Card. Every time the card is used to make a purchase, funds are disbursed into the overall grant pool, according to a press release. Funds are disbursed annually.

“Gesa recognizes and appreciates our local heroes who serve our communities across Washington state,” wrote Richard Waddle, executive vice president of Gesa Credit Union, in a statement. “As we watched the videos that applicants had sent in, we were inspired by the clear passion they have for uplifting our communities.”

“We’re thrilled to honor that passion and the invaluable work that these organizations have done, and we thank them for their selfless efforts in serving our community,” Waddle wrote.

Emry Dinman can be reached at or 425-941-5829.


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