[Q&A] Michelle Parker hosts fundraising auction to benefit the Tahoe community

[Q&A] Michelle Parker hosts fundraising auction to benefit the Tahoe community

INTERVIEW • Robert Pursell/Red Bull | FEATURED IMAGE • Aaron Blatt/Red Bull Content Pool

Michelle Parker, a staple in the ski industry for nearly two decades, is hosting a fundraising auction right now that benefits the Tahoe/Truckee Emergency Relief Fund. With support from local athletes, including Connery Lundin and snowboarder Jeremy Jones, there’s all kinds of rad gear up for grabs: skis, splitboards, pow surfers and more. Get the inside scoop on the project in the interview featured below.

How did you become involved in the Tahoe/Truckee Emergency Relief Fund

Parker: Basically, two weeks ago, I got a phone call from a friend who was working on doing a meal delivery here in town. And they said, “Hey, can you come help me? I’m at the Bridgetender and there are literally hundreds of meals here that need to be delivered.” And so I showed up in my truck and brought 650 meals to the Boys and Girls Club in Truckee and Kings Beach. It’s crazy how many meals we delivered.”

How do you even go about getting that many meals prepared?

So the meal delivery has all been set up locally through the efforts of individuals working with Boys and Girls Clubs, and they’ve served a dual purpose–they help feed those who are hurting but they also help keep local restaurants going.

Right now, restaurants are charging us $10 for a meal that feeds a family of four, which is incredible. We are taking them to Tahoe, Truckee and Incline Village. It’s been a way for us to help the Boys and Girls Clubs because they are pinned just pinned right now cooking like 3,000 meals every week while there are only eight people working—the Boys and Girls Club can’t accept volunteers due to safety hazards.

What would you say is the biggest need right now in the Tahoe/Truckee region?

This entire effort has been done through individual donors. And right now, we don’t necessarily need volunteers–we just need funding. In April, the Boys and Girls club was able to pay for the rent of 35 local families. Speaking to my friend from high school we’ve seen an increase in homelessness on the streets out here, which is absolutely shocking because this is a very inhospitable place to be homeless.

How did the Emergency Relief Fund Tahoe/Truckee come to be?

So it was started by Amie Quirarte–a local real estate agent who works for Kelly Dietz Tahoe Luxury Properties–and it works with Tahoe Truckee People, which is a 501(c)(3) to allow people to chip in via taxable donations. Amie started the Facebook donation page along with a GoFundMe to help people pay rent, and to help assist in delivering meals.

Michelle Parker filming for her web series “Originate.” | PHOTO: Aaron Blatt/Red Bull Content Pool

From there, you decided to start an online auction to raise money as well, correct? 

After talking to Amie and hearing what they were trying to do, I just started reaching out to all the local pros to see what they can donate to an online auction to help raise money. I’m just hoping with all the pros I can keep the fundraising going and keep donations flowing.

[But] it’s pretty cool–there wasn’t a local emergency relief fund going before COVID happened and Amie was able to start one up. And now with this auction, it’s been great to see people support. Nick Russell donated a splitboard to it, someone from Arbor reached out and wanted to donate a board. It rules to see this all come together. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a conversation with anyone from Arbor, and they’re helping out.

What’s been the most surprising aspect of the donation process for you so far?

“I just didn’t realize how big [the whole operation] was when I got started. The first time I went to the Boys and Girls Club, I saw a line out the door of people collecting these meals. The first week of helping was kind of… a learning process. You don’t realize just how many meals 650 meals is until you show up and realize you need multiple trucks to get them delivered.”