The 501c3 Files is published monthly in the Ashland Sneak Preview.
By: Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
Focus On: Community Works
Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about the organization that makes these free toys possible. At the end you will see how and when free toys are available. First though, I want to tell you three stories about people who found the courage to reach out and find the resources they needed to rise above a bad situation. That is what Community Works does. It provides the tools to help people out of abusive situations, empowering them to change their world. The names in these stories have been changed to protect privacy.
Martina called HelpLine last year simply looking for a referral for legal assistance. When she was invited by the HelpLine volunteer to talk a little more, Martina revealed that she and her children were being abused by her husband and that she wanted to get a restraining order against him. So HelpLine connected Martina with Community Works advocates who were able to provide support and information about resources to help her on her journey out of her abusive marriage. With this assistance, she applied for, and got, a restraining order. She also applied for and got a grant from the DV Foundation to change the locks on her home and install other security measures, and she continues to attend Community Works support groups for survivors of domestic violence for ongoing support and guidance as she continues to rebuild her life free from abuse.
John came from a home of abuse and neglect and married young to escape his unsafe home, but it wasn’t long before this relationship turned abusive. John was afraid to tell anyone that he was being abused by his wife because of the stigma and shame he felt at being a male victim. He suffered in silence for years, until one day he heard about Dunn House Shelter. (This is Community Works’ shelter for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.) He called HelpLine for more information and they connected him with a Community Works domestic violence advocate. Within 24 hours he had a room at Dunn House Shelter. While living there, John attended support groups and worked one-on-one with advocates, setting goals for his future, finding support and reassurance, and taking steps to reclaim his life. He stayed at the shelter for just over a month while he worked on finding new housing and deciding how he wanted to move forward with his life. Eventually he rented a room from a coworker, set his sights on college, and plans to attend classes at SOU next year.
Alison was 16 when she ran away from a severely abusive home. She lived on the streets and “couch-surfed” with friends. She wasn’t in school, wasn’t working, and felt that life had nothing to offer her. But everything changed when she found out she was pregnant. Somehow this impelled her to find the inner strength and resilience to try to make a better life for her and her baby. She called the HelpLine, which connected her with the Youth and Family Services program. From there she got onto the wait list for housing and meanwhile her case manager and mentor helped her apply for the Oregon Health Plan and get prenatal care. After just a few months, Alison was placed into the Transitional Living Program. Finally she had a safe place to call home! Supported by her case manager, she attended life-skills and parenting classes. She lived in the TLP for less than two years, and in that time she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, found a job, and got a promotion which helped her moved out of TLP housing and into her own apartment.
Thank you to Amy Beard, the Development Director and Community Educator for Community Works for sharing these moving stories. The power to change your life is always within you but it helps to have resources!
Ok back to the Free Toys. This December 22nd Community Works will have their annual Toy Giveaway. These are the extra donated toys that have accumulated throughout the year. To find out more call: 541-779-4357 (The help line). There are no eligibility requirements. Just fill out a form with the ages of the kids and they hand you a bag of toys!
If you would like to donate to Community Works and Dunn House, keep in mind that there are older kids that need some love too. Sports equipment, new art supplies and books for teens are things that would be very welcome. Go to www.community-works.org to make a financial contribution or to learn how to volunteer.