With new staffing to cover most graveyard shifts, program manager Lynelle Wilcox has been able to put a more concentrated effort into increasing outreach and bettering relations with the community surrounding the SafeSleep Women's Shelter on Front Street. Beds at the shelter are currently mostly occupied, but Lynelle has been spending time at the shower truck site run by ARCHES to volunteer and talk about SafeSleep and other warming center operations as colder weather moves in. In addition to this, SafeSleep has been in communication with other shelters in the area to talk about the different supports they offer, in the hopes that new ideas could contribute towards SafeSleep's goal of meeting people where they are at. Some ideas relate to budgeting, saving money, employment options, and a focus on getting rent-ready, which may look different for everyone.
Over the last few months a camp has sprung up around the shelter, including structures that blocked the sidewalk. With this came instances of volatility, violence, and trash being spread around the area. The campers had settled beyond the shelter's property line, preventing SafeSleep from utilizing its authority to ask them to leave. Therefor, a request was submitted to the city of Salem to act and help get the area cleared. There are more homeless individuals now than ever, with no where for these people to go. The city is working hard to find places for them to stay, but the situation is tough as the need is greater than the resources. That being said, the city deemed it a necessary request and came to post signs and perform a sweep. It is difficult to have to act on the situation, with many of the campers outside the shelter experiencing physical and/or mental disabilities which may prevent them from meeting criteria to be in a shelter. It's not viable to have a homeless camp right outside of a women's shelter, however, and for the continued safety of the women staying at the shelter, action had to be taken. That being said, SafeSleep did make efforts to share shelter options with campers, and in at least one situation, asked DHS to send a caseworker to check on eligibility for assisted living for a significantly disabled individual.
As stated before, the shelter is at full capacity for the time being. Volunteers are still needed and greatly appreciated! SafeSleep United is open from 6:00pm to 8:00am every day. Shifts vary from opening to closing, so send program manager Lynelle Wilcox an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to share what hours work for you. If you'd like to speak over the phone, call 971-570-4213.
Program Manager's Statement
This work has become a calling for me because it keeps showing me where my premises about poverty and homelessness are wrong, so I can shift to become more accurate in my thoughts and my heart.
And because a smile and hello can enable people to feel seen, and grow hope, and that can change everything. And because when we offer kindness, dignity, and respect to people who are often considered to be unworthy and less-than, people may begin to feel worthy and grow hope about their future.
And because people who are not homeless might witness our actions and may begin to question and reconsider their own beliefs. Because by doing this work, we are also planting seeds that might change others’ biases, minds, and hearts to believe the reality that people who are unsheltered are worthy, valuable, fellow human beings.
And because when ladies might sleep safely, and grow hope, they might breathe, heal, and pursue their hopes and dreams.
-Lynelle Wilcox, SafeSleep United Program Manager
Since United Way Women United began the Red Cart Project in late 2019, the effort to provide students with free, easy access to feminine hygiene products has seen amazing progress. Thanks in large part to community partners who have run collection drives and donated products, Women United has been able to continue its support across Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties. In 2021 alone, 29 carts have been given to schools across our area of service to expand existing resource support systems, along with over 1400 kits. Each kit contains 9 tampons and 5 pads, which adds up to 12,600 tampons and 7,000 pads we've been able to supply schools with! Considering most schools have only just returned to a majority in-person schedule this September, that number is a great success. That being said, the need for new supply is always present. As more schools request to be a part of the Red Cart Project, and participating schools need re-supplying, the Red Cart Project will continue to need the support of members of the community. If you would like to run a collection drive or have any questions about the Project, e-mail Stephanie Bobb at email@example.com.
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley took the Salem-Keizer Enrichment Academy under its wing after the departure of Salem-Kezier Education Foundation earlier this year, allowing us to help support students in a new capacity. The enrichment programs across the school district give students a unique opportunity before or after school hours to explore interests and build skills outside of a regular curriculum. North Salem High School runs 11 programs, one in particular titled Cooking101. This program is scheduled once a week, where 10-15 students have been learning basic cooking skills and expanding their culinary knowledge. So far this year they've made a wide variety of meals and treats, ranging from pigs in a blanket to cinnamon rolls! Thanks to programs like these, students are given the opportunity and support to explore interests and hobbies that they can carry forward outside of school and in life. If you have any questions about enrichment, e-mail Jodi Blackman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley's 9th Annual Pajama Drive begins on November 01, with preparations having began weeks prior in October. As of now 41 physical drop-off locations have been established, an increase from last year that will benefit this year's increased requests. Due to many people still working from home and other restrictions stemming from COVID-19, we've also established an Amazon wish list that people can buy from and contribute virtually. To browse through these needs, click here!
Last year, United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley collected over 800 pairs of pajamas that were distributed between 8 local non-profits serving ages ranging from children to adults. The Drive will run until November 30, when drop-off boxes will be collected and their contents sorted by size and age. This is an excellent opportunity to support those in need as the winter season approaches, and 2021 will see a significant increase in requests from 2020. If you have any questions regarding drop-off locations or the Drive itself, please e-mail Nolan Schrader at email@example.com or Stephanie Bobb at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good360 Gifts in Kind has worked with more than 70 organizations to distribute products this month. Many agencies were able to collect Halloween decorations for their clients and office parties! Winter holidays are right around the corner and we have more than a dozen pallets of goods saved for those occasions. Toys for Tots will also be making a return, and considering the impact this partnership had earlier this year, it will be another excellent opportunity to continue supporting children in need.
Our partnership with Amazon grew this month when they agreed to bring 22 pallets of donations directly to us from the Troutdale distribution center; saving us staff time, energy and money. We look forward to maintaining this schedule for the foreseeable future! We also enjoyed hosting Salem Chamber of Commerce Greeters meeting here at the Good360 warehouse at the end of the month, which was part of a successful effort in expanding the community's knowledge of the program and the good we do with retail products. For questions about the program or upcoming volunteer opportunities, email Colman Crocker at email@example.com. Be sure to visit our website and Facebook page to learn more!
The City of Salem approved the sale of property on NE Market St. in May of 2021 for United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley to begin construction of cottage clusters designed to address the growing homelessness crisis in the area, specifically geared towards the senior population. The property has seen visible progress over the ensuing months, and construction of the planned units is set to begin soon. Homelessness has grown to become one of the most dire crisis' in the state, especially in the more densely populated areas such as Portland, Salem, and Eugene. The senior population is statistically more affected by financial insecurity than any other age group, as 21% of married social security recipients and 43% of single recipients rely on social security as 90% or more of their income.
The cottage clusters on Market St. are being constructed as a means to provide low-income housing for seniors, women, and veterans in the Salem area. These durable homes are built to provide meaningful shelter for these vulnerable populations while also providing a much needed sense of community between residents. For more information, application details, and funding options, click here to be redirected to the official page for the project on United Way's website.
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