SafeSleep United has continued to grow and adapt successfully this past month, most notably hiring two part time staff members and a full time graveyard shift lead. This was made possible through State Homeless Assistance Program grant funding, which SafeSleep applied for and was awarded for the 2021-2023 biennium. With the addition of new support staff, more energy can be put towards education, outreach, and case management. These efforts are becoming more and more important as the crisis of homelessness continues to grow.
Staff have also been working on implementing a new Homeless Information Management System (HMIS), used by many Homeless Alliance Continuum of Care service providers. The HMIS enables SafeSleep to check guests in and out, record which bed is assigned to each guest, enter services provided provided to each guest, and identify when guests have moved to a more permanent shelter or home. This is a huge step up for the shelter, automating many summaries that have been created manually up to this point.
With all this expansion, SafeSleep needs more volunteers! Homelessness has increased to the point that it is a humanitarian crisis. Homeless women are at high risk of being victims of assault, robbery, sex trafficking, and rape. SafeSleep United's mission is to change that by providing a safe place for as many women as possible to sleep at night. The shelter is open from 6:00 pm to 8:00 am every day. If you have a few hours to volunteer for opening or closing, please get in contact with Lynelle Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 971-570-4213 to schedule a time.
The Value of "Normal"
For a long while in my life, I equated "normal" with boring, everyday, mundane, ordinary, cookie-cutter sameness. Wanting "normal" as a desirable setting on my dryer, but not a desired thing for my life. SafeSleep United guests had the option to go to Inside Out's retreat in the country at the end of August. Most of our ladies went and everyone had a wonderful time. When they came back, we asked if they missed us. The resounding response was [of course not]! At the retreat, they could swim, hike, hang out at any time of the day or night, and sleep in as long as they wanted. What's not to love about that? For many good reasons, our shelter can't operate that way. Yet we are so grateful they had a chance at something so amazingly fun, instead of daily survival life. And it's a vivid reminder how the normalcy that sheltered life offers may be more underrated and precious than we remember to realize. What if everyone could have the normalcy of a safe place to sleep each night, the option to hang out with friends at any time they wish on days off, the freedom to sleep in for hours sometimes? "Normal" now seems like an amazing luxury that could change for any of us at any time. Now, instead of feeling negative about "normal" and shying away from it, I am so grateful for any normalcy we have the ephemeral richness to have for now. And I wish the gift of "normal" for everyone.
-Lynelle Wilcox, Program Manager
The statewide Charitable Fund Drive began on September 15th for state agencies and retirees, giving individuals an opportunity to directly give back and make an impact across the state of Oregon. Thanks in part to the efforts of staff here at United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley and agency coordinators with the state, the 2021 Charitable Fund Drive has been a great success so far. Funds raised through the Charitable Fund Drive are distributed across 19 umbrella groups which represent over 600 charities collectively, supporting a wide variety of causes. The Drive will run through November 30th for state agencies and retirees, but as of now a total of $126,000 has been raised. This is a significant response from those asked to participate, and is truly indicative of the community's desire to support one another.
State universities will begin their drives beginning November 15th, running through December 31st. With the current rate of donations and continued efforts from staff and coordinators, the 2021 Charitable Fund Drive is shaping up to be an incredibly successful effort. If you would like to learn more about the Charitable Fund Drive, click here to be directed to the official CFD site and FAQ page.
Good360 has gone through some major changes in the month of September, but the same wide variety of products is still available to even more agencies. As the program's inventory has moved into a new 5,000 square foot room in the same building, community partners and volunteers now have even more space to organize and collect goods. Come see how we continue to grow this program in October - just in time to collect all of the seasonal fall goods we have stored over the year! If you represent a school, non-profit, or a faith-based organization and would like to register with Good360 Gifts In Kind, click here.
Good360 completed another successful mobile event in McMinnville last week, bringing in over 20 agencies that cleared all of the available goods in just 2 hours! Programs in the Yamhill county area now have more access to shared products through Good360 and our partnership with Share Inc furniture bank in McMinnville.
As always, volunteers are needed to help organize and set up at our warehouse in Salem. If you would like to sign up to volunteer, click here. If you have any questions regarding the Good360 Gifts In Kind program at United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, please get in touch with Colman Crocker at email@example.com.
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley held its 2021 National Day of Caring on September 15th, calling on members of the community to contribute some time and energy towards the needs of local organizations. Overall, six projects were completed by teams of volunteers that assisted with tasks ranging from beautification to organization. This effort would not have been possible without volunteer participation, and United Way again wants to thank all those who took time out of their day.
September was an exciting month for Women United, marking the beginning of the school year and many opportunities for impact and support. In this month's meeting discussion began with the Red Cart Project, citing a continuing need for light, regular, and sport size tampons and pads. Requests from schools are increasing, with 12 carts and 628 kits delivered across Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties just this month. United Way expects this trend to continue, so if you are interested in hosting a collection drive or delivering supplies please contact Stephanie Bobb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human trafficking is an ongoing, frightening issue. Truckers Against Trafficking is an organization that is focused on training bus drivers and truckers to recognize signs of a trafficked victim or suspicious situations. Their message and website was shared in September's meeting, aligning with Women United's overarching purpose.
The next topic discussed was United Way's Kick-Off week, which began September 15th. Day of Caring was the first event announced, which ended up being a great success. Local organizations made requests for various projects which were fulfilled by teams of amazing volunteers. Workplace campaigns also kicked off on September 17th, marking the beginning of a vital time of the year for United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley. Funds raised through workplace campaigns represent a large percentage of the support we are able to provide within the community. If you are interested in starting a workplace campaign, or have questions e-mail Stephanie Bobb using the link above.
Lastly, updates regarding the Homeless Coalition were shared. Marion County has a large percentage of chronically unsheltered people, and there are many projects and efforts underway to provide sufficient support. A significant development involves a Youth Advisory Board that has been established and is currently operating. The Warming Shelter network is changing to Extreme Weather Shelters to provide more flexibility opening as needs arise. In addition to this more duration shelters are opening in preparation for the colder months ahead. In closing, United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley's Senior Cottage Cluster Project was mentioned. This project aims to provide affordable housing to seniors, while maintaining independence and a sense of community. To find out more, click here.
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