Portland, OR. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Autism Society of Oregon (ASO) to shift towards a virtual walk fundraiser rather than their standard in-person event. This year the organization is back in full swing for its annual Autism Walk fundraiser at Oaks Park in SE Portland on August 15th. The event will include a wide variety of fun activities for individuals with autism and their supporters.
ASO says the event will be “a family-friendly, autism-friendly community event celebrating the people we love on the autism spectrum.” Some of these activities include the half-mile walk that gives the event its namesake, a photo booth, a water display courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue, and sewing/needlecrafts with PDX Stitch. Additionally, the nonprofit has partnered with several local groups and organizations such as Cosplay Characters for Kindness and Portland Ghostbusters who dress up as fictional characters and attend charity events for photos and to make attendees smile. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns, the event will not include face painting as it normally would in a non-pandemic year. Those interested in attending the Autism Walk can register for the event to help raise funds for it here.
A group of people dresses as Star Wars characters hold the ASO banner at a previous event.
All funds raised for the Autism Walk will go towards ASO’s various programs and resources designed to support people on the autism spectrum. ASO aims to maximize the quality of life of Oregonians on the autism spectrum, guiding them towards self-determination and working to end societal stigmas against autism. Money raised at this event will be used to create further educational materials on what autism is, and resources for those on the spectrum and their families such as a sensory booklet and cookbook which can be downloaded off the organization’s website. In addition to informational resources, funding for ASO will also go towards the organization’s initiatives to directly support those affected by autism and their families, including the “take a break” and “take a breather” programs which put vouchers or tickets for activities or monetary funds into the hands of autistic Oregonians and their caregivers.
In addition to these programs, ASO also hosts workshops, classes, and webinars to educate Oregon about autism and how to approach it. Further, the organization has supplied its supporters with a directory of support groups for those with autism as well as a comprehensive list of scholarships and financial aid for autistic individuals to apply to. All of these helpful and informative resources can be supported by registering for the Autism Walk fundraiser this Sunday, the 15th from 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM. Registering for the event will also make those interested in attending eligible for a discount coupon on ride bracelets at Oaks Park, to be used at noon once the rides open. Ride bracelets for the event at Oaks Amusement Park can be purchased here.
A large crowd in attendance at a previous Autism Walk event hosted by ASO. The organization expects lower attendance in 2021 than in previous years due to COVID-19 concerns.
For other ways to support ASO’s mission, the organization has have a donation page on its website. If readers would like to attend other upcoming events hosted or sponsored by the organization, all upcoming events can be found within the Autism Society of Oregon’s event calendar.
Portland, OR. As mutual aid organizations all over Portland have arisen in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, nationwide police brutality, and the growing awareness of social justice activism, Brown Hope has taken strides in mutual aid efforts for Portland BIPOC. Founded in 2018, by Cameron Whitten, (seen above) with their mission directly informed by the needs of “Black, Brown, and Indigenous Portlanders” through trauma-informed activism, this completely volunteer-led organization is working within the community to make improvements for those historically marginalized communities in our city.
Co-founder of the Black Resilience Fund, Salomé Chimuku, speaking with an attendee of a July event where volunteers conducted in-person intakes and distributed funds to Black Portlanders in need. (Photo, Courtney Sherwood/OPB)
One of Brown Hope’s biggest achievements comes from their Black Resilience Fund program. Launched in the summer of 2020 with the goal of providing an immediate emergency funding resource for Black Portlanders, they successfully raised over $1 million in direct donations from 11,000 Portlanders in the short time frame of a single month. These funds are allocated as direct relief for BIPOC Portlanders, an admirable goal considering the financial hardship and trauma sprouting from this last year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its launch last summer (8 months ago as of this article), their website donations tracker now sits just shy of $2.25 million.
As an intentionally multifaceted organization to deal with a multifaceted and complex community, Brown Hope has founded multiple other initiatives to build up our community. Power Hour is a weekly community discussion meeting in which participants can receive food, drink, and most notably, direct cash reparations of $25 (an interesting aspect of Brown Hope’s mission considering the rarity of active reparations). Featuring a 45-minute discussion based around local community happenings, news, and needs, they encourage white folks to come and participate and/or donate their time. Another is Brown Hope’s Black Street Bakery which provides work opportunities for Black Portlanders while offering the community delicious baked goods.
Brown Hope understands that community building requires mutual aid and a multifaceted outlook on what our community needs are. Further, they know that the only way to go about enacting real change is by offering an ear to the community you’re working within. Brown Hope is a “healing initiative” first and foremost. They understand that justice is a collective experience that requires all of us to put our best foot forward.
You can donate to the Black Resilience Fund here.
A bit about Brown Hope from their website:
Brown Hope is a community solution for racial justice, creating connection with Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders through the heart, mind, and voice to inspire our collective healing.
We envision a future where the truth about this nation’s long history of injustice is self-evident. We envision the survivors of this injustice taking the lead on change. We envision love as a lived, and collective, experience.
Portland, OR. The nonprofit that takes donated computers, removes all personal information, and gives them to needy people is working in overdrive. Free Geek helped to deliver computers to students at William Walker Elementary School as seen above. The nonprofit delivered 40 devices to families of students in need, but there are still many more people in the Portland area who need to get online.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Free Geek saw a 4,000% increase in the number of requests for computers for low-income people.
The number of requests continues to grow according to Free Geek marketing specialist, Charlie D’eve. She explains how getting online is vital for people. “It’s families of five who received only one computer from the school their children attend when e-schooling began. Its people asking for computers for their parents whom they haven’t been able to contact since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s parents who lost their jobs during the pandemic, looking to find work online. It’s college students who relied on the library for their homework. It’s therapists who have clients with no access to them. It’s social workers. It’s houseless youth. It’s cousins, neighbors, friends.”
In January, Free Geek staff members fill their van with laptops and desktops to deliver a hardware grant to families living at The Louisa Flowers, Multnomah County’s largest low-income apartment building.
For the past two decades, Free Geek has offered a way to divert technology that would otherwise be recycled or thrown away, refurbish it, and give it back to the community at no or low cost.
Since COVID-19 began the organization has been able to partner with programs including SNAP, Every Child Oregon, Project LEDO, Black Resilience Fund, Portland State University, and many more community change organizations according to D’eve.
In their partnership with SNAP, Free Geek has provided 121 devices and is working to provide 300 more. “Our Gift a Geekbox program has been seeing around 20 applications a day since we put the program up on our site. Our highest amount of applications in one day was 240. We haven’t even advertised the program yet,” says D’eve.
Other programs available through Free Geek include:
- Plug Into Portland (computers for K-12 students)
- Hardware Grants (free and low-cost technology grants)
- Online Shop (low-cost tech through an online store)
- Corporate Technology Donation (bring corporate used tech back into the community)
- Personal Tech Donation (bring your personal tech back to those who need it)
- Data Security (data destruction certification for your tech)
There are a number of challenges Free Geek has faced throughout the pandemic, although one challenge has hit the organization the hardest. According to D’eve there is a great need for laptops to provide for students going through e-schooling, and telehealth services for the elderly.
Vaccines are now available in Oregon, with the elderly (age 65 and older) prioritized receiving the vaccine first throughout February. This does not come without challenges, however, as many people are having trouble navigating an online platform and finding ways to get to their appointments. In response to this, Free Geek is relying on potential partnerships with businesses to ensure they can get devices to those who can sign up for the vaccine but don’t have digital access.
Currently, there are no volunteer opportunities with Free Geek. However, there are many other ways to get involved, according to D’eve, including:
- Give a gift to Free Geek at give.freegeek.org
- Donate your used technology
- Ask your employer about where your used tech goes, and start a conversation about providing that tech to Free Geek
- Start a fundraiser for us
- Start a tech drive for us
- Talk with your friends about Free Geek – shout us out on social media!
- Know a community change organization or person that needs a computer? Help them get one from us
“I think what people are starting to notice is that even though they have a device, their next-door neighbor likely doesn’t. And now we’re seeing people notice, and people wanting to make sure that changes,” says D’eve.
Staff members deliver laptops to Title I elementary schools by partnering with project LEDO.
From the Free Geek website: Free Geek’s mission is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potential. Including everyone in our digital future.
27% of Americans do not own a computer. And one out of ten families do not have internet at home. This lack of access is sharply stratified along lines of income, race, age, and education. Low-income families, immigrants, seniors, and children are digitally under-connected, many with mobile-only internet access, which often isn’t enough.
The crisis is growing. Our world is growing more digital every day, and vulnerable populations are being left behind. The digital divide separates individuals along economic lines – from the cost of technology and devices, to which neighborhoods have better broadband access. Day-to-day tasks middle- and upper-class individuals take for granted become massive challenges to communities where basic technology and skills feel alien and inaccessible, due to language or financial barriers. From applying for jobs to completing homework assignments, from paying bills to accessing medical records to communicating with family, people with the means to access technology are at a decided advantage over those who are not. This is a social justice issue. Without technology access, full participation in nearly every aspect of American society — from economic success and educational achievement, to positive health outcomes and civic engagement — is compromised
Now think about this: the EPA estimates that only 27% of e-waste is recycled nationally. E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery. So what if we repaired and reused these devices, in order to keep our community connected while keeping e-waste out of landfills?
Our programs are founded on this very idea. Free Geek has created a unique circular model which points two existing societal problems – excess electronic waste in need of sustainable reuse and recycling, and lack of access to basic technology among vulnerable populations – back at each other to reveal innovative solutions. The computers we grant to our Digital Inclusion participants are saved from ending up in landfills, and instead, go on to find a new life helping provide our community’s most vulnerable populations with the digital literacy skills they need to succeed and thrive.
Want to join the movement helping both our environment and our community? Join us and make an impact. For just $10 a month, you can provide one person a device, tech support, and digital skill training. Join our monthly giving community THE BRIDGE, and give the gift of clean water all year round.
Portland, OR. Poison Waters (on left, posing with Tracy Curtis) will take her enthusiasm online this year for the ‘Our House’ Virtual Gala. Organizers encourage supporters to step back in time and tune in for an MTV-esque online event set in the ‘80s. The free benefit on Feb. 20th offers an opportunity to support the organization which provides healthcare, housing, and other vital services to people in the Portland community living with HIV. The nonprofit started in 1988.
Dana Kinney, Director of Development and Communications, explains the decision behind the 80s’ themed virtual gala, “Since, Our House came to life in the eighties, we decided this would be a really fun year to do a flashback to the eighties and talk about how we’ve come, how we progressed, how our community has stood by us and how that was reflected in the height of the AIDS epidemic, but also at the height of the COVID pandemic.”
Kinney recognizes that the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic are very different in who is affected and how both communities are impacted differently, but the need for help and support has not changed.
“We’ve been fortunate enough that our community of supporters and donors have really stepped up tremendously to give us so much more than we could imagine during a pandemic to ensure that the most vulnerable keep getting supported,” Kinney explains.
Johnna Wells and Carrie Welch speak to guests at the Hopelessly Devoted to Our House Gala from 2019. This year’s virtual gala speaker will be Dale Johannes.
There will also be a virtual auction that opens on Feb. 12 at 8 am and closes on Feb. 20 at 9 pm. Once the auction opens, each package will be available to view and attendees can bid as often and as much as they like. Some auction packages include the following: beach vacations, mountain vacations, a hot tub boat in Seattle, nature tours, and art/wine tours.
There is also a chance to win two roundtrip Alaska Airlines ticket vouchers for $80. There are only 200 raffle tickets available and the winner will be announced during the live stream on Feb. 20.
Prizes are not the only thing to look forward to either. With previous in-person events, the organization has offered catering services which have also seen a significant impact from the pandemic. In order to ensure that attendees still have the full virtual experience, there will still be a catering service from Vibrant Table who has partnered with Our House before. Make sure to RSVP for the event and order food ahead to have it ready by clicking the link here.
Participants bid on auction items at the 2019 Hopelessly Devoted to Our House Gala. Auction items are still available with the event being virtual this year.
The live stream event is going to be really fun Kinney explains, “I would love for anyone who is either familiar or just learning about Our House or has no idea who we are, to tune in and just learn about us and see what we’re doing for the community and whether it’s as their one time that they’re watching and learning about us, or if they want to learn more, they can get ahold of us or even volunteer.”
From Our House website: Our House inspires people with HIV to LIVE WELL. Our House provides integrated health and housing services to people with HIV/AIDS. Guided by compassion, collaboration, and respect, we provide 24-hour specialized care, supportive services, and independent housing with support services.
Our House Core Values:
Compassion for those most in need was the reason we founded Our House and it continues to be our guiding value.
Collaboration at Our House builds relationships by sharing resources and expertise in the community to serve our clients.
Our House Respects the dignity, spirit, worth, needs, and rights of everyone we touch.
Our House maintains a Resourceful staff, stable finances, and effective programs through innovative and responsive action.
Our House Empowers clients to optimize the quality of life in a safe and accepting environment.
Portland, OR. The Street Trust’s annual fundraiser, Love In Motion, will look different this year from years past. The February 4th benefit will feature four local leaders sharing stories about what gets them moving. This event will be held virtually for the first time after being held at the Alberta Abbey for several years (as seen above).
Since 1990, The Street Trust has worked to promote and improve public transit, walking, and bicycling conditions in Oregon. The organization works in classrooms, on the streets, in city hall, and the state legislature encouraging and advocating for safe and convenient transportation options.
Erin Haley, Director of Communications, feels hopeful that the community will show up to support the nonprofit, buy raffle tickets, and contribute to the cause despite the event being virtual.
Love In Motion audience members listen to one of the speakers from the 2019 event
The Street Trust, like many other small organizations, has had to make some hard financial decisions this year according to Haley. Unlike previous years, Love In Motion is free to attend virtually and each story will have a mobility spin to it. American Sign Language will also be provided.
“The proceeds from this fundraiser will support the work of Street Trust to make streets safe, accessible, and equitable for all,” said Haley, “We hope to inspire people to consider a more environmentally friendly way of moving to their destinations but also to engage with the Street Trust in our advocacy work!”
Each year, Love In Motion features four different speakers alongside an emcee. Ayleen Crotty, producer and moderator of Film By Bikes will be the emcee of this year’s event. This year’s featured storytellers can be found below.
2021 Love In Motion Storytellers Pam Slaughter, Augusto Carneiro, Paul Buchanan, and Candace Avalos.
Here’s some information about the speakers:
- Pam Slaughter is the Founder of People of Color Outdoors
- Augusto Carneiro is the Founder and fearless leader of Nossa Familia Coffee
- Paul Buchanan is the Former Vice President of West Seattle Bike connections
- Candace Avalos is a Board member for Portland: Neighbors Welcome, and a newly appointed Chapter Review Commissioner for the City of Portland
According to Haley, the organization is thrilled to have this diverse group of storytellers. “All involved have been very generous with their time and energy and we expect it to be a wonderfully informative and fun experience.”
Although Love In Motion will be held on a different platform the event’s annual bike raffle is still happening. This year’s prize is a BMC Alpenchallenge E-Bike donated to the organization from Clever Cycles.
This year’s Love In Motion raffle prize is a BMC Alpenchallenge E-Bike
Haley encourages people to register for the event, “It is sure to be an evening of community and connection, hopefully, some laughter and maybe even some tears. Raffle tickets are also on sale now and are limited so don’t wait! Visit us at www.thestreettrust.org for more information.”
Raffle tickets can be bought through this link or text “BIKERAFFLE” to 44-321.
From The Street Trust website: The Street Trust staff and board are committed to creating communities where people can meet their daily transportation needs through active transportation.
Portland, OR. The 2020 Oregon wildfire season was one of the most destructive on record in the state of Oregon; more than one million acres of forestry burned taking homes as well. In response to the fires, Oregon Parks Forever set a goal of raising funds to plant one million trees. Currently, funding and planning are in the early stages with a goal of beginning to replant trees this Fall at the earliest.
Seth Miller, Executive Director of Oregon Parks Forever, touches on the benefits of replanting trees, “Why should we replant after a fire? Trees provide the very necessities of life. They clear our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities and feed our souls. Our forests provide critical wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities. They sequester carbon and help reduce soil erosion by stabilizing slopes and preventing landslides.”
According to Miller, Oregon fires this past summer was more than twice the amount of damage the state has experienced in recent years.
Depending on how much money is raised and after determining the greatest need and potential impact, Oregon Parks Forever will work with the following agencies and county departments:
- Public land managers from the US Forest Service
- Oregon Department of Forestry
- Bureau of Land Management
- Oregon Parks & Recreation
- County park departments in Clackamas, Marion, Lane, and Jackson counties
More than 1 million acres of forest in Oregon burned this past summer.
By planting these trees, Oregon Parks Forever aims to have the highest impact of visual benefits as well as recreational. According to Miller, U.S. Route 22 between Salem to Bend has one of the highest burn areas and will be a high priority area.
This comes at a time where budgets of public land managers are already stressed due to ongoing funding challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic according to Miller. There are a number of promotional events going on currently, including a promotion for Oregon Parks Forever with KGW TV for the next couple of months.
Promotions with other TV stations will also occur later this Spring along with a co-branding deal with a winery, brewery, and cidery in the summertime. To help raise the funds needed in order to complete the goal of one million trees the organization is in need of donations.
From the Oregon Parks Forever website:
There are currently three ways to help donate:
- Use this link to the Oregon Parks Forever website to make a donation
- Send a TEXT to 41444 with the message REPLANT
- Use your Smartphone camera at this QR code below
Currently, there are no volunteer opportunities available at this early stage but keep an eye out for Oregon Parks Forever monthly newsletter with the most current updates on the project. Use this link to access the Wildfire Impact Panel video recording that Oregon Parks Forever held on Nov. 17, 2020, about the fires. The passcode for the recording is: trees4parks!
Our mission is to raise funds to enhance and preserve special places and experiences in Oregon’s parks, now and for generations to come, and to encourage and promote an outdoor lifestyle.
It’s not too late to give back this season and many organizations are currently donating a portion of their sales to the Oregon Food Bank through December. Currently, food donations have been put on pause for Oregon Food Bank’s as well as having to reduce the number of volunteers from about 100 to 10 due to COVID-19.
The Oregon Food Bank has also canceled its food drives right now, but these organizations below are offering another way to help those experiencing food insecurity. For more information on each of the different organizations and to help donate to the Oregon Food Bank click on the links below.
Ashley Mumm, Public Relations Manager, explains that there are also other fundraisers throughout the year to help the Oregon Food Bank, “In addition to those that are on the calendar, there’s a lot of activity going on in the community, which is amazing.”
People also have the option to create a peer-to-peer fundraiser to help combat hunger and rally friends, family, and/or co-workers to help out. This option is open all year long and just $1 helps the Oregon Food Bank distribute three meals in the community.
Over 1 million people will experience food insecurity for the first time this year according to Mumm. This has increased from last year where about 860,000 people were experiencing food insecurity. Despite this increase, Mumm reminds people, “That we’re here, food is available; please get food.”
An additional way to look for opportunities to give back is by using #OregonFoodBank on Instagram that usually has other activities happening around the state from small businesses/individuals. The online app, OregonFoodFinder.org, allows people to search by zip code, days and times of operations, and what each partner offers (groceries/food/meals, etc.).
Giving back can mean more than just donating, Mumm explains, “For those that are safe and feel comfortable, volunteers are always welcome. We have over 400 partners in the metro area that are also potentially welcoming volunteers.”
From the Oregon Food Bank Website: Our mission is to eliminate hunger and its root causes because no one should be hungry.
Portland, OR. Friends of Noise is a Portland-based non-profit that provides young artists with a well-rounded introduction to the music industry. (Wavy Josef, is shown playing an outdoor show above.) With professional workshops in everything from designing fliers and merchandise, to lighting and sound engineering, to networking and performing, the organization invests in its community to better prepare artists for the business side of music. Non-profits have not had an easy year, and this organization has shown that it is resourceful in keeping on track to serve local youth. With ongoing projects heading into 2021, and a long-term goal of opening an art-focused youth center in North East Portland, Friends of Noise is committed to coming out of 2020 stronger than ever.
Many local businesses were forced to halt all activities in March 2020 to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, and Friends of Noise was one of them. The young community that the non-profit serves, however, was highly active in social justice causes as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum all over the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Andre Middleton, Executive Director of Friends of Noise, delivered amplification equipment and other sound assistance to marches and protests around the city. Andre felt compelled to provide the non-profit’s sound equipment to a noble cause, “I wanted to make sure that the community’s cries for justice and change would be heard.” Friends of Noise continued to be an ally for these social justice events, which also validated the idea that outdoor spaces would become a viable option for their artists.
Members of the community stand in solidarity for a common cause.
The non-profit went on to hold numerous shows in NE Portland parks throughout the summer and even hosted a social-distanced Black Lives Matter rally in Cathedral Park on Labor Day that drew a crowd of 2000. These live music events were welcomed by these neighborhoods and provided much-needed revenue for the artists and showrunners that had relied on concerts in the past. Friends of Noise makes it a point to compensate performers and showrunners, and believes it is incredibly important to show the community of artists that their time and work is valued. By showing the young artists this now by paying them for their work, Andre hopes they will take that sense of value into their futures: “We’re all about teaching and giving kids opportunities to practice what they learn, and then working to get them paid opportunities to develop this as a career. We work to make sure that young people are seen as valued members of our local music ecosystem.”
In 2021, Friends of Noise will be launching live-stream programming as an ongoing way to feature their growing youth artist directory. This programming will be a collaboration with local music venues that have been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, creating a connection between the artists and the theaters. They have partnered with theaters like Mississippi Studios, the Star Theater, and the Roseland Theater. The shows will also be multi-generational, pairing young artists with older artists, and will eventually incorporate a local dance group as well. The programming will be consistent, and the non-profit hopes this will represent the Portland music scene as a diverse and harmonious entity. This project is set to launch in January, and Friends of Noise hopes it will help sustain the local music industry through these uncertain times.
The band Out of Luck plays an indoor show before the pandemic.
Engagement in the Friends of Noise community has not slowed down with this pandemic. As a non-profit that serves Portland youth, its artists are looking for more ways to connect and be inspired by their peers. Friends of Noise knows that it cannot be a replacement for school, or other social activities that are no longer safe, but hopes that by building a strong community it can provide comradery through work and expression. This new live-stream project will support this ideal harmonious and collaborative music scene. When speaking about the future of the music industry in Portland, Andre is optimistic, “I have every confidence that young people will be pushing the envelope and be as innovative as they always have been. If we can create an ambience of collaboration over competition, this next cohort of musicians are going to be in an even better position in the future.” Friends of Noise is participating in Willamette Weekly’s GiveGuide, and you can also donate or volunteer on its website.
From Friends of Noise: Friends of Noise is a non-profit, educational, all-ages organization. Our mission is to provide safer and productive spaces for all-ages concerts, focused arts education, and leadership opportunities for youth with a focus on providing marginalized youth and youth of color access to performative creative expression. Our long-term goals are to contribute to the development of a region-wide network of young people and adults that are learned and ready to pursue a career in the music industry on stage or backstage and to grow into a youth-centered arts center that resides in a music-focused arts hub in an underserved community within our city.
We seek to create a non-profit, all-ages arts venue that is youth-oriented and youth-driven. We envision a safe, inclusive community meeting place for arts events, with a strong educational and mentorship component. We intend to engage young people in all aspects of event planning and production within this space, in order to encourage real-world skill-building. We believe these skills will serve students well in their future endeavors and help them become cultural leaders and engaged citizens in their communities.
Portland, OR. Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) hosted a Virtual Holiday Celebration on December 6th. The event featured stories of GDB’s canine teams across the country. Through the event, $400,000 was raised for the non-profit. Supporters who missed the celebration can watch it online here. People can continue to donate for the event until December 16th and will be given an opportunity to name a GDB puppy.
Guide Dogs for the Blind celebrated its first virtual holiday celebration.
The Virtual Holiday Celebration was hosted by Liam Mayclem, an Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality, along with Theresa Stern, GDB Vice President of Outreach, Admissions, and Alumni Services. Chris Benninger, president and CEO of GDB, gave updates on the nonprofit, along with the GDB ambassador dog, Thea. Zach Thibodeaux, a recent Guide Dogs for the Blind graduate, shared his story of receiving his first guide dog, Natura. There were some special appearances of the actor Noah Wyle and some GDB guide dogs, and a video starring canine teams across the U.S. was featured.
The Virtual Holiday Celebration was hosted by Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality Liam Mayclem and Theresa Stern, GDB Vice President of Outreach, Admissions, and Alumni Services.
The virtual celebration had over 1500 attendees sign-on, and an additional 120 viewers signed on to the Facebook Livestream. Guests joined from all over the States, and from Canada, England, India, and Italy. Donations were given from all around the world.
Behind the scenes of the virtual holiday celebration, with President and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Chris Benninger.
From Guide Dogs for the Blind:
Guide Dogs for the Blind is a guide dog school that trains highly qualified guide dogs to provide free services in order to empower visually impaired individuals. The organization has been serving people throughout the United States and Canada since 1942.
Guide Dogs for the Blind was the subject of an award-winning 2018 feature-length documentary called Pick of the Litter, which was developed into a television docu-series by the same name that had its debut in late 2019 on the streaming service Disney+.
Portland, OR. St. Mary’s Academy raised $500,000 during its 27th annual Food for Thought fundraiser. Due to COVID-19, this is the first time the fundraiser has gone virtual in order to help support financial aid access for its students. More than 800 guests from across the globe joined the event to listen to a range of topics from motivation in the pursuit of one’s passions, to becoming a leader, to always staying true to yourself and the importance of giving back.
The featured guest of the event, Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer for American Ballet Theatre, shared her story and answered questions in a conversation with St. Mary’s senior, Kyra Bonta, current St. Mary’s dance instructor, Jessica Zoller, and St. Mary’s alumna, Jenny White.
Misty Copeland the featured guest of the event says, “Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful, and believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”
This school year, St. Mary’s will provide over $2 million in financial aid to 42% of families. The fundraiser, Food for Thought, has allowed St. Mary’s to provide a college-preparatory education to any young woman who desires it, regardless of financial circumstances.
Maya DaSilva, a current junior at St. Mary’s, also spoke at the fundraiser about why she loves the school and why tuition assistance is important. “The SMA community believes there is inherent value in young women. That their thoughts, voices, and ideas are worthy. That they are necessary in the workplace and that each brings extraordinary skills and assets to various forms of leading, serving, creating, discovering.”
Maya DaSilva, current junior at St. Mary’s Academy spoke at the fundraiser in support of her school.
St. Mary’s Academy is Oregon state’s oldest continuously operating school and the only all-girls school that serves 680 young women. St. Mary’s has a 100% college acceptance rate where students achieve, excel, and are recognized locally, regionally, and nationally in academic fields, leadership, STEM, the arts, athletics, community service, and extra-and co-curricular activities.
Donations from the fundraiser will provide St. Mary’s students with:
- $15,995 will sponsor a student’s tuition for one year
- $8,000 will fund the average financial aid award for one student
- $5,300 will cover the gap between tuition and the actual cost of education
- $2,000 will fund a quarter of the average financial aid award for one student
- $1,056 provides a fully equipped iPad for two students receiving financial aid
- $528 provides a fully equipped iPad for one student receiving financial aid
- $283 provides one dollar for each student receiving financial aid
The event was co-chaired by the women of the St. Mary’s Board of Directors. Board member, Kimberly Cooper, shares why she supports St. Mary’s. “Education is the great elevator – anyone who enters, rises up to new heights – and access to a world-class education for young women at St. Mary’s Academy helps propel them higher. They are our future, and when they rise, we all rise!”
From St. Mary’s Academy website: St. Mary’s Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary since 1859, is a Catholic high school for young women, providing a challenging college-preparatory education in a vibrant learning environment. Guided by the values and charism of the Sisters, St. Mary’s fosters a diverse community, educates the whole person by nurturing spirituality, encouraging creativity, promoting justice, and inspiring a sense of global interdependence to prepare students for service and leadership.