On October 14th, Oregon City residents donated part of their weekend to help construct shelters for homeless veterans.
In Clackamas County, the city of Portland and Portland State University partnered to fund the effort–a transitional shelter pilot project on county land which will provide up to 30 homeless service members with a dry place to spend the night.
“I think people deserve shelter,” explained project construction manager Brendan Murphy. “If we’re a community we need to take care of people who don’t have shelter.”
The county, city, and university have taken care to reduce the environmental impact of the new dwellings: each shelter incorporates wood recycled from Oregon’s Pickathon Music Festival.
Ultimately, project leaders hope to provide homeless veterans with an entry point into more permanent, secure living situations. “The goal is people will live [in the shelters] in order to stabilize their lives and then move into transitional housing,” Murphy stated. Thanks to Oregon City’s generous residents, that goal is becoming a reality.
Bill Conway, Clackamas County Fire Department Chief of Emergency Medical Services, is always on the job.
This past Saturday, Conway went grocery shopping with his wife. As he strolled the aisles of Grocery Outlet, he heard another shopper collapse to the floor. The individual had lost consciousness and stopped breathing, according to a Clackamas Fire Department press release.
Conway didn’t wait for on-duty medical personnel to arrive. Rather, he immediately began chest compressions on the victim, and continued until paramedics could transport the person to a hospital. Conway’s instincts and job training likely saved the shopper’s life: paramedics restored the individual’s pulse after two defibrillation procedures.
Conway is passionate about equipping others with medical emergency response skills: he has taught CPR to over 40,000 people, and has funded purchases of defibrillators (AEDs) for law enforcement vehicles and businesses. In the process, he is helping to train the next generation of everyday heroes.
After three months in the hospital, Bobby Asa, a seventeen-year-old Sam Barlow High School student, finally returned home.
On June 27th, Bobby was driving home after visiting a friend, when another driver rear-ended his car. Bobby lost consciousness after the impact of the collision fractured his skull and damaged his spinal cord. He didn’t wake until six months later.
Doctors told Bobby’s family he would likely never walk again. But, after being released from Randall Children’s Hospital last Friday, he is already proving them wrong: “Walking is good. I’m getting to relearn it and learning how to be in a wheelchair, so relearning, kind of, life again,” Bobby told KOIN reporters.
Bobby hasn’t allowed his struggles to embitter him. In fact, his recovery has taught him important lessons: He values life more than ever before, because he now realizes “it can be taken away just like that. That’s what I think mostly, and not taking stuff for granted is what I want to do now.”
Last weekend, Bobby’s family celebrated his return home with an open house to thank friends and neighbors for their support. Nearly 200 people attended the event. “I just want to say, like, thank you to everyone who helped,” Bobby said.
Bobby explained that he looked to his family and community for encouragement during his long recovery. However, he ultimately credits his astounding progress to something else. “Well, I think it is a miracle because, like, right now, I shouldn’t even be doing what I’m doing,” he stated. “I should be in bed right now, but I’m not. So that’s great.”
A motivated quintet of local community advocates and business owners plans to offer Willamette Valley residents a new dining experience. The group intends to open a for-profit restaurant, dubbed “Food for Thought Cafe and Infoshop,” in downtown Salem. There, diners will be able to sample locally-sourced, multi-cultural cuisine–but at a fraction of the price other restaurants might charge.
What will guarantee the restaurant’s affordable offerings? A pay-what-you-want business model which allows customers to pay according to their financial means.
Michele Darr, a board member of Food for Thought Cafe, isn’t worried about maintaining a steady revenue stream. “We believe we have a bullet-proof business and sustainment plan,” she told Helen Caswell of Salem Weekly. Darr’s fellow board member, Amanda Hinman, points to Panera Bread Company’s successful pay-what-you-want experiment in Dearborn, Michigan: the project “helped Panera build a long-term strategy devoted to maintaining a loyal return customer base and is serving as a roadmap for others,” Hinman explained.
Jessica Parks directs a pay-what-you-want cafe in Kirskville, Missouri. Parks admits that obtaining financial support from donors constitutes a major challenge for the business: “People were very skeptical at first.” But, she continued, “once they come, taste our food and see it in action they keep coming back.” About 9 in 10 customers at Parks’ restaurant pay the suggested amount for their meals.
For Darr, the pay-what-you-want model is about giving the needy access to an experience which they otherwise would not be able to afford. “Giving low-income people the chance to eat a nutritious sit-down meal somewhere other than a soup kitchen helps [all people] remember that we aren’t strangers, or forgotten citizens . . . we are neighbors,” she said. Darr and her colleagues hope to offer classes and study spaces at their restaurant in addition to tasty cuisine. Ultimately, they aim to create a vibrant community atmosphere which will uplift the needy and transform the way society currently views food assistance.
Darr and her fellow board members welcome donations for Food for Thought Cafe at their GoFundMe page.
Salem Harvest, a local non-profit, has a plan to reduce food waste and help the hungry. The organization “connects farmers and backyard growers with volunteer pickers” who gather produce which would otherwise go unused, writes Tom Hoisington of Salem Weekly. Salem Harvest then distributes the food free of charge to low-income families, the unemployed, the elderly, and other needy individuals.
According to Hoisington, the organization has collected over one million pounds of fruits and vegetables for the Marion-Polk Food Share and other local food banks since 2010, and boasts 2,600 volunteers. Thus, Salem Harvest is well-equipped to meet Oregon’s exceptional needs: more children, as a percentage of the population, experience hunger here than in any other state.
Salem Harvest benefits not only those who receive produce, but also those who give their time to harvest it. “Harvests offer an opportunity for families to work together in the outdoors, meet local farmers, and gain a better understanding of where food comes from,” explains Hoisington. To learn about opportunities to volunteer for Salem Harvest, visit the organization’s website at www.salemharvest.org.