Posts

Ashland Emergency Food Bank 2017 501c3 Files

Ashland Sneak Preview March 2017

501c3 Files

Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB)

By Adam and Sophia Bogle

Every other month, the AEFB gets a huge influx of of food all on one day that arrives in the iconic green bags from the Ashland Food Project. It is quite an event that lasts for hours and takes a small army of volunteers to pull off. At the end of the day the shelves are so full if feels like there is enough to feed everyone forever. But, inevitably, this food does not outlast the need until the next delivery.

This is what the new AEFB director, Traci Darrow, finds herself contemplating as she steps into the shoes of Pam Marsh. Pam was elected in November as our newest State Representative from Southern Oregon. While some of the challenges of running the food bank may seem daunting, Traci is coming at it from a useful background of politics and nursing. Her last job was Chief Nursing Officer at Rogue Community Health. She jokes that it should have been called “Chief Networking Officer”. Her position there was all about case management and putting people together with the resources they needed. Perfect practice for running the food bank.

The AEFB relies on a huge network of businesses, other non-profits and volunteers so as to help the most people with the resources available. Businesses like Amy’s Kitchen, Albertson’s, Shop N Kart, Village Baker and Starbucks are just few of the regular contributors. Items that are donated in an overabundance are shared with other non-profits like the Food Angels, Maslow Project and the school Backpack program.

I asked Traci what it was like to start work at the AEFB.

Darrow: “I am constantly amazed at how reliable the volunteers are. Somehow they manage to get there even on the days with ice storms! We have a huge pool of volunteers, about 245 people not even counting the Ashland Food Project volunteers. Most of them come from a rotation of faith based organizations. Today the Methodists are there making meal bags where they put together ingredients and a recipe to make it obvious how to cook a nutritious meal. And they are singing while they work!

Bogle: Is it easy to put together meals from what is donated?

Darrow: Sometimes, but so often we will get things like hamburger helper and we have no hamburger. We do have a lot of tuna usually so I wish we would get more tuna helper. Pair all that with some frozen veggies and it’s a pretty healthy meal.

Bogle: What would you like to tell the public about the AEFB?

Darrow: Mostly I just want to express my extreme gratitude for the support that has never wavered. George Kramer, the president of the board has been helping with our Facebook presence and board member Julie Cortez, from OSF, has been helping with press releases and other communications. This is a great team to work with.”

One of the challenges with the food bank is how to get enough of the items that go quickly without getting an overstock of it. Items that don’t last long after the food drive include cooking oil (in small containers please), and healthy cereals. And spaghetti sauce always seems to run out prior to the noodles. The worry is, if you ask people to give extra cooking oil then that’s all there will be in the pantry.

While I was sitting there with Traci, all I could think about was a segment on Sesame Street where the king decided to have a picnic. He told all his subjects to bring something to the picnic, but when they arrived, everyone had only brought watermelon. So he asked them why no one had brought potato salad and next thing, all they had was potato salad.  Finally someone spoke up and suggested that everyone bring something different to the picnic. They made a plan and had a grand time. I have no doubt that Traci will find the right plan to solve this challenge. After all, the community does come together in a big way to help, especially on green bag day. And maybe next time I am there helping unload the green bags, I will be singing the Sesame Street song of the King’s Picnic: “Who brought the whipped cream? I did king! Who brought the sour cream? I got it king! And I’ve got the Ice Cream!”

The next Ashland Food Project pick up is April 8th. Contact ashlandfoodproject.com to start donating food throught the green bag program. And if you need food assistance go to: ashlandemergencyfoodbank.org. They are so welcoming. Honestly. Been there.541-488-9544

#COTM Resolve

imgres-1The 503c3 Files
By: Adam Bogle

Resolve
(formerly Mediation Works)

I don’t think it matters if you are a Republican, Democrat, Socialist, or Tea Partier (calling them Partiers kinda makes me want to be one), I think one thing everyone can agree on is that the criminal justice system in this country is completely broken. With more people incarcerated per capita then almost every country in the world, this is definitely an issue this country needs to do something about. The question is what…and is anyone doing anything about it already?
The good news around here is that there is a local non-profit who is tackling this issue, and making a real difference in people’s lives. Just one part of what Resolve does is a Restorative Justice program, and when young people are involved, there is a program called Victim Assistance, Youth Accountability (VAYA). Their key goal is not to punish an individual who has committed a crime by incarceration, but instead to heal the relationships that have been harmed as a result of the crime.
As they refer to it, there is a ripple effect for every action we take…either good or bad…and when an individual commits a crime, the victim is affected in ways that the “criminal” doesn’t recognize. And when faced with the results of the ripple effect, both the criminal and the victim can come together to make things right.
One local story involves a young man named Alex. (While most everything at Resolve is confidential, Alex came forward publicly with his story) When in his teenage years, Alex had a bad relationship with alcohol, and regularly drank to the point of being disoriented and out of control. On one such evening, Alex was drinking and wandering the neighborhood with no real idea of where he was. Not being able to find his way home, he punched his arm through a neighbors window and proceeded to pass out on their couch.
Imagine the surprise and feelings the neighbor had when she found a strange man in her house. Police were called, and Alex was charged with Burglary and Criminal Mischief.
This case could have gone through the justice system, and had large impacts on Alex’s life and prospects for his future. Instead, he went through a month long program with VAYA where he learned of the ripple effect caused by his actions including the fear he had created for the victim.
Alex and the neighbor agreed to meet in person (with assistance) and had the opportunity to talk about the incident so that they could repair the harm and move forward. It was a successful and powerful meeting. The neighbor saw that Alex was not the scary criminal she saw when she found him in her house, but a kid who was going through a rough patch in his life. She also got to see that he understood the negative effects that he had caused in her life.
Four years later, Alex called Resolve out of the blue to thank them for the positive impact that VAYA had on his life. Alex said “There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I didn’t think of VAYA, the impact it left upon me was tremendous. I constantly wonder how different my life would look behind bars in a cell in Portland.” Alex is currently serving in the Marine Corp. He says “I want my career after the military to have affiliations with restorative justice programs similar to Mediation Works (now Resolve).”
And this story represents just one arm of what Resolve does. They teach Mediation to local schools, organizations and community workplaces. In fact, I personally went through one of their training sessions just a couple of months ago. One of the volunteer jobs I have is to be an Ombudsman for the local Realtor Association, to help resolve conflict that Realtors or the public have with each other in the event of a bad real estate transaction.
Resolve also provides professional Mediation and Facilitation services in the valley. For more information, to get help or to donate or volunteer: go to www.resolvecenter.org. They are located at 1237 N Riverside Ave #25 in Medford. (541) 770-2468

Rogue Valley Farm to School

501c3 Files

by: J. Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle

Rogue Valley Farm to School

Cultivating healthy kids, environmental stewardship, farm relationships and the local economy.

Have you heard the story of the well meaning Italians who go to Zambia to teach the people how to grow tomatoes? Well, they worked together and grew some magnificent tomatoes and as soon as they were ripe, 200 hippos came out of the river and ate them all. The bewildered Italians expressed their dismay and the Zambians calmly said: “That’s why we have no agriculture here.” And the Italians exclaimed:”Why didn’t you tell us?” And the Zambians’ reply tells the whole story here: “You didn’t ask.” (This is from a TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli posted in November 2012.) The title of the talk is “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! 

I don’t know if anyone at Rogue Valley Farm to School (RVF2S) has ever heard this TED talk, but they certainly take the principle to heart. While they have a very clear mission statement (see below), they don’t have a singular path to get there. 

Instead, they work with each school individually and they ASK them what they would like to focus on. Here are just a couple of the stories of how they are not imposing their tomatoes on anyone.

At Phoenix High School, RVF2Ss FoodCorps service member, Karen Tassinari worked with teacher, Jim Janousek who wanted to focus on creating a community event with his students. The event was designed to promote awareness of and generate support for the amazing work the students were doing to grow their garden, care for vegetable starts, and of course; the harvest! The Phoenix High School students hosted the Community Garden Party and Barbecue to coincide with the Future Farmers of America students’ annual plant sale as a way to generate more exposure to the garden and integrate the two classes. The students planned the whole event with the guidance of both Janousek and Tassinari. They formed committees for everything from the musical entertainment to menu based on the food they grew themselves as well as some locally sourced items. The menu included kale pesto pasta, salad with roasted beets and radishes, burgers, spinach dip with homemade crackers, and carrot muffins. Wow. The event was a great success, and students had the chance to see all the steps it takes to coordinate a community event. 

Many students become visibly more empowered as they learn new skills that they can use throughout their lives. 

In the Central Point School District, Karen works with students at Sams Valley Elementary School. The garden committee there wanted to focus on producing more garden fresh produce for the cafeteria salad bar. Karen’s role has been to help them by engaging the 3rd-5th graders to grow the vegetables. The students have learned everything from planting seeds to harvesting produce and creating recipes with their garden abundance. They recently made simple lettuce wraps with carrots, radishes, cilantro, and peas that the students loved, exclaiming that it was the best food they had ever had! One third grade girl told Karen that her family bought kale starts and melon seeds to start their garden since “I know how to plant because you taught us.” Pride that comes from gardening was a recurring theme no matter what the story was that Karen shared with me. 

Creating your own food just can’t be beat for a sense of accomplishment!

To volunteer go to www.rvfarm2school.org/volunteer and look at their calendar. You could help with their Harvest Meals programs.These occur on farms where students get to visit a farm and explore farm activities. This always includes harvesting and cooking food as well as information on compost, insects, plant parts and more. The day ends with a meal everyone helped to prepare, yum! You can also call their Outreach Coordinator, Lilia Letsch at  541-579-3656. 

Their mission statement: Rogue Valley Farm to School educates children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs, and by increasing local foods in school meals. We inspire an appreciation of local agriculture that improves the economy and environment of our community and the health of its members.

Rogue World Music

RWMLogoThis is from our Sneak Preview column called the 501c3 Files

By Adam Bogle

Summer, summer, milk of the calves, We brought the summer with us. Yellow summer of the clear bright daisies, We brought the summer with us! This is just one of the lines from the song Thugamar Fein An Samhradh Linn (This is Gaelic, not typos.) that Rogue World Ensemble will be singing May 21st and 22nd right here in the Rogue Valley. Of course it will be sung entirely in Irish Gaelic because that is just how they roll. This concert alone has over seven different cultures represented from Turkish to Swedish to Haitian French. And now Rogue World Music has created a children’s group called the Rogue World Choristers. A natural extension to reach even more of this community!

Singing with The Rogue World Choristers is a beautiful way for children to learn about the world’s folk music traditions while developing their musical skills in a fun and supportive atmosphere. Shaun Garner, the Artistic Director says: “These children come to us, often with no prior training and yet, by the time twelve weeks of rehearsal has ended they are a true choir singing together and understanding the cultures each song represents. It’s incredible to watch.” The children have a lot of fun with the lyrics. One of the lines the kids like from a song from Ghana this term is: “Tu-eh, tu-eh, barima tu-eh tu-eh; Rice cakes for sale! Come buy my rice cakes!” The Choristers have two sessions per year, one in fall the other in spring and there are scholarships available. Singing in a choir is known to improve both cooperation and leadership skills and even lowers stress levels and improves concentration.

The Rogue World Ensemble was founded in 2009 by Megan Danforth with the goal of bringing music back to its community roots. According to the choir members, this choir has a really different feeling from other choirs. It is very inclusive and approachable. Here are some quotes from choir members: “I have been in other choirs where I hardly even spoke to the others in my section. This feels more like hanging out with friends.” “I get goosebumps singing the Eastern European songs that connect me to my heritage.”, “Joining this group helped me find my voice again after twenty years without singing.” Many of the singers talked about feeling connected and grounded being a part of this group. Two members drive to rehearsal once a week from Grants Pass and one from Williams. That’s dedication!

This is the music of the people, by the people and for the people. It is full of simple and beautiful sentiments like “I am sister to the roses, I am sister to the foam, to the egrets, to the roses and the sun…” and “O Pirin Mountain, how beautiful you are…” Some of the harmonies and scales are hauntingly different than what you hear on the radio. They help bring the far away countries a bit closer and that brings us all closer. In this time of great immigration issues it is important for all of us to remember and celebrate the cultures from which we came.

To help foster the authenticity of the songs they sing from different cultures, RWM brings in experts to help with pronunciation and style. Part of the choir experience is to attend workshops to really dig in to another culture. From Eastern European music with Kitka, Ugandan music with Samite, to Appalachian, Cape Breton and Gospel Music. Rogue World Music also helps promote other local world music in the area such as the folk dances held at Paschal Winery with Omada Kosmos and house concerts with the world class music of Kevin Carr and Pat O’Scannell.

The next Rogue World Ensemble concert is called Travelin’ Light and will be held at the Unitarian Fellowship 7PM on Saturday May 21st and again at the Bigham Knoll Ballroom in Jacksonville at 4PM on Sunday May 22nd. For more information visit www.RogueWorldMusic.org. Celebrating community, diversity and the human spirit through world folk music.

SoHumane: Two Black Labs and a Miracle

The 501c3 Files

By Adam Bogle

Charity of the Month:  SOHumane


Katy and Jenny Dogs
Meet Katy and Jenny. Two wonderful black labs who lived a great life with their sweet owner. All was going good in their world, until one day, last December, the human they called “our sweet and loving friend,” passed away. Sadly, there was no one in the family that were able to take in Katy and Jenny.

These two dogs had lived with their human for all seven years of their lives. For black labs, this is well into middle age, if not approaching their senior years. And they had always lived together. 

Sad, and missing their human, all they had was each other. But then they found the SoHumane team of staff and volunteers. The staff at SoHumane take an individual look at every cat and dog that comes into their facility and try to place them in the perfect home. And when they got Katy and Jenny, they knew that losing their human was already tough enough, but it would be extra sad if they lost each other. So the hunt was on for someone who would take them both.

This was a huge challenge on many fronts because: 

1 Most people are only looking at taking on the responsibly of one new family member when they come to adopt a pet. 

2 Puppies and younger dogs are preferable to those in the waning years of their lives. 

3 Big dogs are tougher to place in homes, let alone two big old ones. 

4 And, black dogs (and cats) are also less popular and harder to place in homes.

For weeks, Katy and Jenny sat with no takers. The good folks at SoHumane kept trying, determined to keep them together. Then on a cold, rainy day (It was not quite a dark and stormy night), SoHumane teamed up with Southern Oregon Subaru for a special event. SoHumane brought a load of dogs to the dealership and even though it was a wet, miserable day, most of the dogs were adopted that day. Except for Katy and Jenny.

Fortunately, a local radio station that was part of the Subaru event did an interview with Executive Director Kenn Altine and they got the story of Katy and Jenny on the air. This is where the angel of mercy shows up. This nice lady heard the story on the radio. She had recently lost one of her dogs, and had room in her life (and house) to take in these two sweeties.

She called and said she couldn’t get there before they closed, but asked SoHumane to hold them for her until the next day. She just couldn’t bear to have those dogs not have a home for Christmas. (Yep, another Christmas miracle. Good enough for a Hallmark movie I think.) True to her word, this angel showed up and took Katy and Jenny home. And as she was driving away with them in her car, she was heard to say “We are all going for Cheeseburgers now.” I can only imagine that In-N-Out was calling to them. 

This is just one of the hundreds of happy endings that SoHumane engineers every year! Thankfully, SoHumane is a no kill shelter, but they go even further than that with a program called the Saving Train. The objective of the Saving Train is simple: to save as many lives as they can while alleviating companion animal overpopulation through spaying and neutering.  In addition, by bringing animals to the SoHumane facility, the other shelters they work with have more space available in their facilities for displaced pets in their communities. This includes the public shelter in our own community, which in 2012 began transferring animals to SoHumane in an effort to help reduce their euthanasia rate. According to one shelter in Northern California with whom they partner, their euthanasia rate went down by over 30% in 2010 thanks solely to the Saving Train.

SoHumane was first founded by Mae Richardson (you might recognize the name from the Central Point elementary school named after her) who founded the Humane Society of Jackson County in 1928 as an all-volunteer organization that initially provided services for displaced dogs and horses.

Today, SoHumane.org provides quality care for dogs and cats while working to make a difference in the pet overpopulation problem. In 2015, SoHumane helped 1,822 companion animals find a home. That’s more than 150 a month!

TEN Realty Group is proud to have SOHumane as our Charity of the Month for February. Bring more love into your life and adopt a new friend.

Adopt or donate today if you can. They are located at 2910 Table Rock Road in Medford and can be reached at 541-779-3215. Or follow them on Facebook to see their latest rescues and get info to attend their annual fundraising events.