Portland, OR. This year the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) will move its annual event – Operation Overcoat – “from one big downtown event, to distributing winter gear and meals all over the city in partnership with other non-profits and local churches,” according to Communications Manager Courtney Dodds.
Family receiving a meal together at Operation Overcoat
As new restrictions and safety challenges due to COVID-19 mean no large crowds this year, UGM’s team brainstormed a way to reinvent Operation Overcoat to get vital supplies to those in need. In several city-wide mini functions beginning Saturday, September 19th, the organization will be partnering with local churches, schools, and workplaces to gather and deliver backpacks filled with shoes, coats, pants, and other items.
This year UGM will reinvent Operation Overcoat to allow for safety measures against COVID-19
“In other words, Operation Overcoat is going mobile,” explained Courtney. “Winter weather can be dangerous and even life-threatening for our neighbors who are houseless and living outside. Due to the pandemic, more people than ever are financially on the edge and sadly it is projected that even more people will fall into homelessness.”
“Receiving vital life essentials is often the first step to building a relationship and helping someone find a path off the streets. Operation Overcoat not only provides for basic needs but is a point of personal connection.”
This year’s unique conditions pose greater challenges for those experiencing homelessness than previous years
For over 20 years, the downtown-situated block party drew nearly a thousand attendees with live music, free food, and festivities as volunteers distributed thousands of donated clothing items to neighbors experiencing homelessness or need in the community.
Courtney notes that the event “will look different this year, but our commitment to coming alongside those in need remains the same.”
Here are some ways you or your local organization can get involved this year:
Organize a donation drive at your church, workplace or school. Our most needed items include pants, new undergarments, sleeping bags, boots, and coats. Drop your items off at Union Gospel Mission at 3 NW Third Avenue.
Support Operation Overcoat financially. It costs about $23.53 to serve each person through Operation Overcoat. Consider a special financial gift for Operation Overcoat. You can give online at ugmportland.org/donate
Your Gift of $23.53 provides an Operation Overcoat guest with goods and services that would cost them over $200 in a retail environment.
From the website:
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, RESTORING THE ADDICT AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. SINCE 1927.
Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1927, when 40 area churches came together seeking to minister to the homeless and hurting on the streets of Portland. In 1937, Union Gospel Mission purchased a building at 15 NW Third Ave.
Portland, OR. Last month the Cascades AIDS Project (CAP) raised over $405,000 through their Art Auction: Reimagined. While the traditionally celebrated annual cocktail reception, patron dinner, and live art auction were missed, this year’s virtually-hosted event expanded access to sponsors around the world. The Co-chairs were Molly King and Deb Kemp (pictured above.)
Dale Johannes Program Host and Johnna Lee Wells Auctioneer
The live-video benefit, recapped here, highlighted more than 150 artists and featured an appearance by Governor Kate Brown. Raffle prizes included a two-hour, private visit to Powell’s with a $200 credit. CEO Tyler Termeer weighed on the imperative times facing Portland during his appearance, noting, “We are standing at the crossroads of dueling pandemics: COVID-19 and white supremacy. It’s a defining moment in our existence as an organization. This moment is a reminder that we cannot relent in our pursuit of equity and racial justice.”
Tyler Termeer is the CAP CEO and Karol Collymore is the Board Chair President.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of its incorporation, CAP is known as “the oldest and largest community-based provider of HIV services, housing, education and advocacy in Oregon and Southwest Washington,” according to their website. Providing social-services and health care for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS – as well as for the LGBTQ+ community in the Northwest – CAP’s budget has grown to over $14 million and its volunteer base to over 600. These services include assistance in finding secure housing, essential medical care, and emotional support to those who have been ostracized by their community.
Looking forward, CAP will continue to focus on HIV while investing in tackling health disparities that affect the community. CAP recognizes connections between these inequities and factors like race, ethnicity, sexual identity, and gender and is committed to adopting plans to address such concerns.
About Cascade AIDS Project:
Founded in 1985 as a grassroots response to the AIDS crisis, Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is now the oldest and largest HIV-services and LGBTQ+ health provider in Oregon and southwest Washington, with more than 100 employees working across four locations. Our organization seeks to prevents new HIV infections; support low-income people living with HIV; and provide safe, welcoming, and knowledgeable healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community. Through our vital health, housing, and other social services, we help ensure the well-being of more than 15,000 people each year. More information can be found at www.capnw.org.
Portland, OR. A nonprofit serving disabled children is holding its annual “All Ability Tri4Youth” event. Unlike the in-person event seen above, for 2020 FACT Oregon is going online, and finding the format is allowing for more creativity and state-wide participation. The free event is open for registration and participation until August 22nd. Registrants can send in footage or pictures of activities to be included in a compilation video shared via social media.
FACT Oregon’s All Ability Tri4Youth event will be held virtually this year.
For the past three years, FACT hosted the event at Tualatin Hills District Park, where participants swam, biked, and ran for a total of 2.53 miles. This year FACT decided to embrace the flexibility virtual participation allows while keeping with the theme of “2.53”. Participants can choose to do any activity for 2.53 miles, 2.53 minutes, 253 reps, etc.
“We can get very creative; however you want to participate, you can participate,” support supervisor Karen McKenney emphasized. “It’s just a really good way of promoting a fun and fit event without letting the momentum slide, so hopefully next year we’re back up and running in person.” All registrants will get a medal and can purchase a commemorative t-shirt.
She noted the added benefit of families from around the state not having to travel to Portland this year, which enables a much broader demographic of their base to participate. “We were trying to draw families from across the state since that’s who we serve. So now if you live in Baker County in Eastern Oregon, you can still participate, which is a really cool positive.”
This event falls is just one of the ways that FACT facilitates connections between families within their community. The grant-funded nonprofit (self-described as “an organization that is by families for families“) specializes in providing information, training, resources, and support to families and professionals navigating disability, in addition to building person-centered one-page profiles for kids. The website includes a support line and a variety of general resources as well as COVID-19 specific information for families.
FACT Oregon offers a variety of informational services and resources to families experiencing disability.
Since the start of the Pandemic, FACT has been conducting webinars surrounding special education through distance learning, which have all been recorded and are available for free on their website. The organization offers over 150 training, workshops, and learning summits throughout the year on a variety of subjects for parents, teachers, and professionals navigating disability services and awareness.
“For families with disabilities, it’s common to feel incredibly isolated, just in general – and then to throw a pandemic on top of it! So we’re hoping that holding an event like this could be a way of keeping people engaged, knowing that there are other families out there like them doing the same kinds of things,” Karen added. “Anything to help families feel like they can make it through this. We’re all in this together; we don’t know what to expect and we’re doing the best we can with the news that we’ve got.”
About FACT Oregon:
FACT empowers Oregon families experiencing disability in their pursuit of a whole life by expanding awareness, growing community, and equipping families.
Portland, OR. Despite the challenges that have ensued in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Compassion Connect has continued to provide resource connections and unite some churches that serve Portland neighborhoods. Thanks to the continued support of donors, the nonprofit was able to raise over $10,000 for COVID-19 relief programs this spring.
The Portland-based nonprofit (which also has chapters in Washington and Arizona) has had to put its main outreach programs on hold until further notice due to health and safety concerns as well as state mandates. These programs include free health clinics and after school groups for vulnerable youth who face a higher risk for sexual exploitation.
Setbacks, have not stopped the small staff from brainstorming ways to invest critically in the communities they serve. Communications director Anna Johnson offers some insight: “During this time of hiatus, our team hasn’t ceased tackling the challenging question of how to resume operations safely so we can continue helping churches serve their neighbors in a time when they need the support more than ever.”
At the beginning of the outbreak, the company held area-specific Zoom meetings with church leadership from eight local neighborhoods to provide a platform for prayer and collaboration on how to meet the needs of the community. According to Ana, the “meetings culminated in a webinar in late May, where we shared ways for the church to make the ‘new normal’ look more like the Kingdom of God by providing a framework and tools for churches to build relationships, work together in unity, and transform the neighborhoods.”
While working from home, staff have rallied volunteers and churches to collect care package items for youth, many of whom now find themselves immersed in unstable home environments. The kits include essential hygiene items like masks and hand sanitizer along with games, treats, and encouraging notes.
Compassion Connect Health Clinics saw patients before the pandemic (above). The nonprofit is offering a community support form for clinic guests in need of medical services while the organization’s clinics are closed.
For those who have been without healthcare or have lost job-based insurance due to layoffs, Compassion Connect hopes to resume clinic services in late August with additional safety features in place, configured by staff, volunteers, board members, and outside experts. With additional precautions, the nonprofit has also been working on gradually relaunching its after school program, as well as its Adorned In Grace bridal shops, which offer new and gently used wedding gowns, formal wear, and accessories to support its work in anti-trafficking.
The nonprofit is currently exploring completely virtual or small group options for its largest fundraising event in October, which typically sees an attendance of around 300 guests.
About Compassion Connect:
Interested in volunteering with the Compassion Connect team? The nonprofit is looking for a technology coordinator to help plan virtual events, as well as other virtual volunteers, donors, and interns to make a difference in the community during this challenging season. For more information, go to www.compassionconnect.com or Compassion PDX on Facebook or @compassionconnect on Instagram.
We believe in the volunteer leaders, in those who are yet to rise up and in the potential of any community in the world to make a difference by uniting in Jesus-like service to its most hurting members. You have the heart to make a difference. We have the tools to make it a reality.
Portland, OR. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette worked ahead of the curve to raise over $600,000 in response to the emerging needs due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the community. It began distributing the funds to needy people in April. “We have been overwhelmed with requests for assistance and receipt of in-kind goods,” noted Cindy Adams, President and CEO. “We have continued to leverage our strong partnerships with culturally responsive and culturally specific nonprofits in the community to distribute funding and in-kind goods to individuals and families who have been impacted the most by the pandemic.” Thanks to the help of its partners, United Way has continued to provide access to assistance in short-term housing, utilities, and access to food.
Here’s a video update from the organization:
The nonprofit focuses specifically on racial and ethnic equity by assisting local families and kid’s projects. Its programs include education-based projects aimed at increasing graduation rates for students of color, and financial assistance for healthcare and housing for families.
United Way (UW) staffer delivers in-kind donations to the Q Center in Portland.
The organization adapted quickly to an online business model, due to a previously in-place telecommuting policy that ensured resources and technology were available for the transition. United Way has done its best to navigate the lack of social contact, making the most of technology like Zoom, virtual cards, and phone calls.
LCSA_UW partner: Members of Labor’s Community Service Agency, a United Way nonprofit partner that received Safety Net funding in response to the pandemic, deliver food boxes to families in need.
As donations continue to come in during the nonprofit’s annual workplace campaign season, the organization will distribute the funds to partners assisting those in need as the community navigates the pandemic. Details of the distribution of funds to organizations can be found here.
Cindy Adams expects the needs of the community to continue to grow. She added, “United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is committed to helping our community transition from response to recovery and then rebuilding a community that is more resilient than ever before. We ask that our community, your readers, stay safe, be well, and think about how we can help those who are maybe less fortunate than ourselves.
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has been bringing our community together to do good for nearly 100 years.
We connect the people, nonprofits, businesses and government agencies addressing poverty in our region.
Improve lives, strengthen communities and advance equity by mobilizing the caring power of people across our metro area.
We’re working hard to create a future where kids in our region are free from instability and worry so they can be free to play and discover, free to learn and grow.
Free from poverty. Free to reach their potential.
Right now, 20% of kids in the Portland region live in poverty and 1 in 3 families can’t pay for basic needs.
That’s 1 in 7 kids whose families must choose between:
• Rent or groceries
• Heat or healthcare
• New clothes or TriMet fare
Together, we can make our region a better place for everyone.
With your support, we can continue investing in our region’s schools, families and communities.
Schools for Kids
More students are showing up prepared for the first day of kindergarten than ever before.
New preschool classrooms are being built, particularly addressing culturally-specific communities.
Graduation rates are increasing for students of color with the help of community partners.
Families for Kids
Families receive the assistance they need to help pay for basic needs like rent and food on the table.
Many families are staying housed one year after receiving service.
With free tax services from our partners, working families are receiving important tax credits to remain financially stable.
Communities for Kids
Through Hands on Greater Portland, United Way’s volunteer program, thousands of volunteers are connected to meaningful projects being held throughout our region.
The value of service from our volunteers equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars put back into the community.
Hundreds of local organizations are receiving service from our volunteers.
When we understand the causes of poverty in our region, we have a better chance of finding solutions. By partnering with local organizations and providing opportunities to convene and mobilize, United Way can address the different areas of need in our community and find strategies that will create the strongest impact.
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