Tag: Newsletter Fall 2023

Letter from the Executive Director – Fall 2023

Shaun Pritchard

Non-profit newsletters, including our own, often feature stories about their successes. Though my staff do an incredible job day in and day out serving hundreds of clients, staff alone cannot guarantee that clients will succeed. It takes a team, including not only staff, but also community partners and clients themselves, to successfully move past challenging issues.

I am very proud to lead our group of hardworking, devoted staff. UCAN staff regularly help some of our community’s most vulnerable individuals. But their dedication goes above and beyond their daily tasks. In this issue of our newsletter, you’ll read how staff improvised during the recent record-breaking heat wave to provide water, food and even air conditioners to those most in need.

Partners, both for-profit and non-profit often work creatively to ensure our residents and communities’ needs are met. While arranging to have a manufactured home delivered to a wildfire survivor, staff learned that the bridge into the survivor’s community was closed. Undeterred, the home’s manufacturer made alternative arrangements the next day and drove the manufactured home’s components on a 230 mile detour through winding mountain roads. In another example, when UCAN needed over $2,000,000 to secure a $1.5 million state grant to build a new Head Start building, but couldn’t launch a capital campaign prior to securing the support, The Ford Family Foundation stepped up and agreed to match future local contributions 3:1 up to $1.5 million.

For all the creative support provided by staff and partners, we often see our clients succeed in large part through their own hard work and resilience. In this newsletter, you will read about a great-grandmother who made a major commitment to raise both her infant great-granddaughter and her one year old brother. Working closely with our Healthy Families staff, she has ensured that the two children have had a warm, nurturing home in which to thrive. And you’ll learn about a mother of four, formerly incarcerated and in recovery from substance abuse, who has persisted through years of recovery to obtain both regular employment and permanent housing.

I invite you to read more about each journey to success in this newsletter’s articles. And I urge you to join in to support your neighbors and your communities. Consider donating to UCAN. Organize a food drive. If you’re 55 or older, make friends while you volunteer with our RSVP program. Together, we can accomplish so much.

Beloved Community Member Retiring

Anne Kubisch

UCAN regularly receives support from many wonderful local foundations and advised funds. But perhaps no other single foundation has had a greater impact on the programming we are able to offer than The Ford Family Foundation (TFFF). With their President and Chief Executive Officer Anne Kubisch retiring, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank both her and the Foundation for their support of our work in Douglas County.

We have no doubt that those at TFFF were overjoyed to bring on Anne to replace the Foundation’s founding president, Norm Smith, in 2013. She arrived after spending almost two decades at the Aspen Foundation, where she established the nation’s premiere community building knowledge center. Noting TFFF’s commitment to families and children, Anne said she looked forward to “going deep in one place on the issues that I have been passionate about for my whole life.”

The timing of her arrival could not have been more fortuitous for UCAN. Though TFFF had long supported our work, UCAN would soon reach out to TFFF requesting $1.25 million, by far the most we had ever requested from any foundation. We needed a commitment of TFFF funds to secure an additional $1.5 million from the State of Oregon, funds which would together cover much of the cost of constructing a new Head Start Center adjacent to our Martha Young Service Center (MYSC). The new Center would allow us to save substantial funds spent on moving classes between leased sites, would provide children from their early days to four years old with a modern, quality learning environment, and would offer their families easy access to wrap-around services offered at MYSC.

We knew that TFFF’s Board and Anne favored awarding grants where local community support was in hand. But we couldn’t launch a capital campaign without having not only TFFF’s commitment, but also having funding committed by the State of Oregon. Anne worked with TFFF’s Board, notably the chair of the Board, Toby Luther, to craft a solution to address our Catch-22. The result: TFFF committed up to $1.25 million to the project, with the proviso that funds would be awarded as a 3:1 match for local community dollars we raised.

With TFFF’s commitment in hand, we were able to obtain $1.5 million from the State. We then launched our capital campaign, and raised the local match needed to obtain TFFF’s $1.25 million. But three years later we needed more help, as changes in project costs left us unable to finish two of our new classrooms. With Anne’s support and guidance, we were able to secure an additional 3:1 pledge from TFFF to match additional capital campaign funds raised with up to $164,544.

As Anne now leaves TFFF, and becomes as she says it, “a regular citizen of Roseburg”, she leaves behind a great legacy for our community, including our beautiful Early Childhood Center. Since it’s opening in fall of 2019, we’ve served hundreds of local infants, toddlers and children age 3-4 there. As we had dreamed when planning the facility, all of our Early Childhood programs are now located in our surrounding buildings. Families can obtain WIC services right next door to where their children attend classes. Through her support, Anne has indeed “gone deep”, having faith that our local community could come together to build a treasured asset.

Working Together on the Road to Recovery

Working Together on the Road to Recovery

Oftentimes we have clients who just need a little help to get back on track. Maybe they need a utility bill paid for a couple of months. Sometimes though, folks need the benefit of many of our services before their lives are stable. The following story is about such a client, how we were able to help her with several UCAN services, and how she herself put in a lot of hard work to get her life back on track.

When we first met Patricia, she had just relocated to Roseburg. All four of her children were in foster care. Patricia had previously been incarcerated and was on probation. She owned very little, had no job, no housing. She was given custody of her children upon relocating, but lived in a homeless shelter at that time. Her first stop at UCAN was to seek housing.

As someone in recovery from a substance abuse disorder, our property management staff was able to offer her one of our transitional units (a unit with a maximum stay of two years). She moved in to her unit within a couple of weeks of getting her children back. When she signed her lease, she agreed to regularly participate in a program of recovery, and to work with a UCAN case manager. As she says, “This program held me accountable in my recovery. It was the foundation I needed to rebuild my life and to be a happy, healthy mother to my children.”

But we know that recovery is hard, and that those who are successful in their recovery must work continuously to maintain sobriety. Patricia did just that. Within her first six months living in her new unit, she had her child welfare case closed, was released from probation, and completed an outpatient treatment program at ADAPT. She also completed a parenting class and a women’s empowerment class. On top of all that, she found her first full-time job.

Patricia benefitted from other UCAN programs during this time. She received utility assistance to help pay her energy bills. She participated in UCAN’s Rent Well program, learning how to overcome rental barriers and become a model tenant. As a graduate of this program, she qualified for a $5,000 landlord incentive, which later helped her obtain permanent housing. With young children, she received WIC assistance, allowing her to improve her family’s nutrition. She also enrolled two of her children in Head Start, where they received comprehensive early childhood services.

Patricia’s life has turned around, with Patricia doing much of the hard work. As she continues on the path of recovery, she reports: “Today, we are all happy, healthy, and thriving. I just celebrated three years clean and sober in December. I will forever be thankful for everything UCAN has helped me with.” We, in turn, congratulate Patricia for everything she has done to become the successful person she is today.

Keeping Children in the Family

Keeping Children in the Family

Research shows kids fare better when they remain in the safe, stable and familiar environment that relatives can provide. But how can children be supported when both their mother and grandmother are unable to care for them? Learn more about how a local great-grandmother teamed up with our Healthy Family staff to ensure two of her great-grandchildren thrive here.

Sara was born two months prematurely, addicted to drugs. Her mother hadn’t received any prenatal care. Not only was her mom addicted to drugs at the time of birth, her grandmother was also addicted. With a year-old brother Joshua already in foster care, DHS hoped to find a family member who could take care of the children. They asked Sara’s great-grandmother, Ellen, if she would be willing to take care of both. She agreed, but said that she only thought she could do so for six months, because she had medical issues.

Within two weeks, a UCAN Family Support Specialist (FSS) paid Ellen a visit. Shortly thereafter, the FSS had arranged for Sara’s developmental assessment, connected Ellen with much-needed resources, provided child development education, and impressed Ellen with the important role she was playing in supporting Sara’s healthy development. Six months later, Ellen had changed her mind and asked to keep both children.

While Sara had been found to be developing as expected, Joshua was not so lucky. Also born addicted to drugs and weighing only two pounds at birth, he had witnessed domestic violence and experienced trauma and neglect before being taken into foster care. Our FSS worked with Ellen to get Joshua screened. After he was found to be behind developmentally, the worker connected Ellen with the local Early Intervention (EI) program, and Joshua began receiving their services.

Ellen has worked with our FSS staff for the past three years. We’ve been amazed at the patience, strength and joy she has shown in single-handedly raising Sara and Joshua. She’s met many goals she’s set with our FSS, regularly praises her great-grandchildren while helping them to problem solve, played countless games provided by our FSS that support the children’s development. She’s an avid reader and loves sharing books with them. Though her home isn’t big, she’s created a warm, safe, loving environment.

Joshua no longer needs EI services, and is meeting developmental standards. He’s enrolled in our Head Start program this fall. Sara is almost three years old, as giggly, happy, and well-adjusted as could be. Mom is now sober and visits both the children on weekends. Ellen continues to learn all she can to support her great grand babies, providing them a life filled with love.

Leaping into Action

Leaping into Action

We at UCAN strategically plan to best use limited resources to meet pressing community needs. But sometimes, emergencies arise outside the strategic planning process that call for urgent response.

As early as July 31, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicted our area would likely see hotter than normal temperatures in August. But nobody foresaw we would exceed temperatures of 100 degrees for several days. After all, a 2022 study found that the last such heat wave, in 2021, was a “freak event that should only happen once in 10,000 years.” (as reported by OPB on September 28, 2022).

Yet mid-August saw multiple days in both Douglas and Josephine County with temperatures over 100 degrees, soaring over 110 degrees in some locations. The 2021 event resulted in the deaths of at least 116 people in Oregon. Many of those who died were folks who were marginalized members of our communities, isolated seniors and homeless individuals.

Understanding the danger high heat brings to the low-income folks we serve, as soon as we learned that a heat wave was in the offing, we sprang into action. Our Utility Assistance Program Manager arranged for delivery of 96 room ac units from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and found space to store the units. The units arrived on August 10th, three days before the expected start of the heat wave.

Word went out to all staff the next morning that units were available. Residents eligible for units were those most vulnerable to heat, including seniors, medically fragile children, and those with chronic health conditions. It took just two days to distribute all units to both Douglas and Josephine County residents. Rapid distribution required coordinating our utility program staff, our facilities team, as well as housing and homeless program staff. With units in place, almost 100 households were able to have cold air in their homes while temperatures continued well above 100 degrees for several days.

As important as it is to stay cool in hot weather, staying hydrated is even more important. This is especially challenging for folks living in homeless camps, who may lack access to water near where they live. Homeless service and veteran program staff together delivered much needed water and supplies to homeless individuals living in both Douglas and Josephine County. Together with others, such as the Roseburg Senior Center and the Myrtle Creek Library which opened cooling centers, we know that fast action such as this prevented much suffering.

UCAN Fills Gap to Provide Critical Service

UCAN Fills Gaps to Provide Critical Service

The Archie Creek fire wreaked havoc on the lives of those living in or near Glide. Folks living in this remote part of the County are proudly independent, and the last thing they wanted was help from the federal government.

The Archie Creek fire broke out on Labor Day, 2020, burning 132,000 acres and destroying 109 homes. It also destroyed barns, vehicles and much more. Many of those impacted had lived in the region for decades. Many were seniors on fixed incomes; many lacked adequate insurance.

These folks typically worked together to help each other out. But now their entire community was hurting. The State of Oregon realized that if money was going to come from the outside to heal the community, it would have to be administered by a local, trusted agency. So they turned to UCAN to manage wildfire recovery funds.

As a community action agency, UCAN fills service gaps as needed. Though we had not previously been involved in wildfire recovery efforts, we were experienced in providing housing repairs, and we used that experience to quickly start up efforts to address this gap. Our decades of experience working with community partners allowed us to soon connect with Glide Revitalization, ready to fund their efforts to offer a range of services to their community.

Abigail Richardson, age 78, was one of the individuals we were able to come together to help. She and her late husband Frank had lost everything in the fire. Living on a fixed income, they had been able to obtain a small trailer for their remote property, 42 miles from Roseburg. But Frank was ill and needed special in-home medical care. Other family members were living on the property. The trailer simply didn’t meet their needs.

We were able to approve their application for a new manufactured home, complete with new appliances. Sadly, Frank passed away at this time. We moved forward with arrangements to have the home delivered, as well as to have a new septic system put into place. Getting the home to Abigail’s property was no small feat, as the only bridge across Glide could not be used. Fortunately, the manufactured home firm obtained a permit in one day and was able to take the home from Albany, OR up to US 97, and then down highway 138.

From there, the home was driven down a long, narrow dirt road to where Abigail asked that it be sited. At the same time, a septic tank installer spent a couple of days drilling holes for a new septic system, as initial holes hit water. UCAN board member and County Commissioner, Tom Kress, took the lead in ensuring that timely inspections could take place for the septic system, as serving the needs of the victims of the fire is a top priority of the County. Both the new house and its septic system are now in place. Abigail told our staff that she was sure Frank would have loved the new home. For her, life has come full circle.