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. The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) is holding its ninth-annual “Catio” Tour in September. “Catio” is a portmanteau of “cat” and “patio,” which describes outdoor enclosures for pet cats to climb and play in safely, without risk of the animal escaping. To adjust to pandemic restrictions, FCCO has converted the tour to include both in-person observation and virtual self-guided tours of this year’s selections around the Portland metro area.
Catios come in all shapes and sizes, often containing ramps to climb, perches to rest on, and toys to play with. Following a year when many spent extensive time at home working on DIY projects, the trend of creating safe outdoor spaces for cat recreation has increased in popularity.
After many submissions, the nonprofit has selected all Portland-based catios to showcase. Registration for the event is now open here, for all interested in watching cats explore innovative constructions designed for their leisure. The 2021 Catio Tour event will take place on September 11th, 2021. The in-person self-guided tour is $10 and virtual tour access is $15.
The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon has already announced that the event will be happening in 2022, and invites all catio creators to prepare for application. The FCCO has posted additional information online detailing what catios are and can be, as well as a list of resources for Portland residents interested in having their own catio. The list includes Portland-area construction businesses that design and build catios, as well as information and instructions for those who wish to build their catios independently, from scratch.
The 2021 Catio Tour event comes as part of a partnership with Portland Audobon society, as part of their Cats Safe At Home campaign, which aims to “reduce the number of cats living outdoors in the Portland metropolitan area in a humane and environmentally responsible manner.” Catios can assist with this initiative by providing outdoor time to pet cats, while ensuring safety from outdoor hazards, protecting wildlife from cat predation, and preventing cats from running away from their owners.
From The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon:
The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon is a Portland-based nonprofit that offers spay and neuter services to Oregon and SW Washington. Their services are free for feral, stray, and barn cats, but unfortunately due to the pandemic, The FCCO is unable to offer cheap services to pet cats as they usually would. In addition to spay/neuter services, the organization also coordinates a “kitten caboose” program which has successfully relocated over 1,300 feral kittens into adopted homes. You can support the Feral Cat Coalition in its mission of housing cats, and keeping them safely off the streets on its website.
Portland, OR. As the toll of the worldwide pandemic climbs higher every day, so does the need for grief response and counseling for families. Porsche Beaverton and Audi Beaverton are helping the Dougy Center’s grief counseling efforts by donating $17,100. The money was raised because Porsche and Audi pledged to donate $100 for every car sold during the month of December.
Everyone responds to grief in a unique way and grief can last a lifetime, which is completely normal. Counselors explain that being grief-informed is vital now. “After listening to and supporting thousands of children, teens, young adults, and adults who are grieving the death of someone in their lives, and with pandemic-related deaths increasing, and more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide, over 300,000 in the U.S., it is time, now more than ever, to understand what it means to be grief-informed.” Here’s a link to resources addressing grief:
The Dougy Center (founded in 1982) has been helping children, young adults, and families through their grief and trauma by teaching them that grief is not only natural but that there is no “right way” to grieve. the loss of a loved one. The Dougy Center is also offering many programs remotely for easy access from home.
Dougy Turno, a 13 year old boy who inspired the founding of the Dougy Center for grieving children and familes.
Despite the social stigmas surrounding the display of grief and sadness, the Dougy Center seeks to raise awareness to break down the barriers of mental health. In a paper written by Dr. Donna Schuurman and Dr. Monique Mitchell (two directors at the Dougy Center), they explain that grief manifests itself in various ways through many social facets of our lives, leading to a complicated social web of emotional response and management with no easy answer. Further, they say that dealing with one’s grief has no time-line or direction and that it can last a lifetime. They say, during this time of pain and loss across the nation and the globe, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and that there are resources for you.
Yet, the Dougy Center doesn’t place sole responsibility of mental health awareness and management on health care professionals. Rather, their mission is one of mutual aid (read: reciprocal aid and cooperation) and community involvement. This is an important distinction as health care access is expensive and often inaccessible, especially when considering mental health. The Dougy Center has continually been a positive force within the community by offering training for individuals and/or organizations seeking to become grieving counselors, providing safe spaces for grieving children and their families, and raising awareness about mental health.
From the Dougy Center:
If you’d like to donate your resources or time, the Dougy Center has a plethora of options available to you. They also thrive on donations, which can be offered here.
The Dougy Center, the first center in the United States to provide peer support groups for grieving children, was founded in 1982. A courageous boy named Dougy Turno died of an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 13. In the two months prior to his death, he was a patient at Oregon Health Sciences University, where Beverly Chappell, at the request of Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in the field of death, dying and bereavement, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, supported Dougy and his family during his treatment. Bev quickly observed Dougy’s ability to bond with other teens facing serious medical issues, how he intuitively knew he was dying, and how he helped other kids talk about their fears. After his death, Bev envisioned a place where children, teens, and their parents coping with the death of a family member, could share their experience with others who understood, who didn’t tell them to “get over it” or judge how they chose to grieve. The first grief support groups met in Bev’s home and has grown from that grassroots effort to become a sought after resource for children and families who are grieving. It is still the only year-round child-centered program offering peer support groups to grieving families in our community.
Portland, OR. The season of giving doesn’t have to end with Christmas; it can continue through AmazonSmile, a program that automatically donates to a nonprofit organization of your choice. The program offers all of the same items, prices, and benefits of online shopping while donating 0.5% of your purchases to the charity of your choice. Some even use AmazonSmile while shopping on their phones, as seen above.
A recent quarterly AmazonSmile notification informed shoppers that the Oregon Food Bank (seen above before the pandemic) recently received a donation of $1,752.15, at no cost to them.
AmazonSmile launched in 2013 and for the past seven years, it has provided a way for customers to support organizations they care about every time they shop. This program comes at no cost to the organizations or customers, and donations could help a wide range of organizations from global humanitarian efforts to local hospitals to school PTA’s.
“Donations from AmazonSmile have resulted in hundreds of thousands of charities expanding their meaningful work across global communities making a difference in people’s lives,” said Llew Mason, Vice President of Consumer Engagement at Amazon. “We are thrilled to have given over $215 million on behalf of customers to the causes they care about most.”
AmazonSmile can be accessed through a web browser and also through the app for iPhones and Android phones. Another way to directly donate items is through the AmazonSmile Charity Lists where the organization will have a list of items of what is needed most.
For first time users, to access the program first visit smile.amazon.com. Then follow the steps below.
Sign in with your Amazon credentials
Choose a charitable organization to receive donations or search the charity of your choice
Then just select the organization and start shopping
Current spotlight organizations include UNCF (United Negro College Fund), Equal Justice Initiative, Feeding America, Save the Children, and Meals On Wheels America. In addition, there are also thousands of organizations to browse and choose from which are sorted into categories such as international or even by state.
When beginning to give back and donate there will be a choice between spotlight charities and searching for an organization.
Organizations can also register for AmazonSmile by visiting: org.amazon.com/signout and follow the steps below.
Click the yellow “Register Now” button
Search for your organization by name or EIN
Click the yellow “Register” button next to your organization’s name
Follow the instructions to complete registration
Tanya Ramos, CEO for Pencils of Promise, explains how the donations with AmazonSmile have helped the organization, “Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world. Thanks to the generosity of AmazonSmile customers, Pencils of Promise has helped provide access to quality education for over 100,000 children around the globe.”
From the AmazonSmile Foundation website: The AmazonSmile Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. All donation amounts generated by the AmazonSmile program are remitted by a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. to the AmazonSmile Foundation. In turn, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates those amounts to the charitable organizations selected by our customers. Amazon pays all expenses of the AmazonSmile Foundation; they are not deducted from the donation amounts generated by purchases on AmazonSmile.
Portland, OR. For many families, the current pandemic has made trick-or-treating impossible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get in the Halloween spirit like the ring-tailed lemur pictured above. During the Oregon Zoo‘s annual Howloween festivities, kids can show off their costumes and learn about wildlife in a fun and safe setting. The event takes place on Oct. 24th–25th and Oct. 29th–Nov. 1st. Reserved tickets are required.
“Like everything else, Halloween will look a little different this time around, but we’re still going to have a good time,” zoo events manager Nikki Simmons said. “We’ve got fun things planned for both kids and animals.”
A red panda plays with a pumpkin on Howloween.
A scavenger hunt around the zoo teaches kids about wildlife and throughout the day, guests can watch as animals enjoy holiday-themed treats like jack-o’-lanterns stuffed with snacks. Activities are free with zoo admission and treat bags are available for an additional fee of $3 per participant. In keeping with the zoo’s mission, Howloween aims to be educational as well as fun, and all the treats come from companies that are committed to using deforestation-free palm oil. Learn more about palm oil and how consumer choices impact animals around the world.
A river otter and a pumpkin.
To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year’s Howloween:
All costumes must include masks that cover the nose and mouth.
Howloween participants must purchase pre-filled treat bags that can be collected at the end of their scavenger hunt instead of collecting candy throughout the zoo. Treat bags are $3 each and are available for purchase online.
All tickets must be purchased in advance, in timed-entry segments. Because of the capacity restrictions, even infants need to be counted. Infants are free with a paid adult admission but must have a ticket.
Items like treat-filled pumpkins are part of the Oregon Zoo’s world-renowned environmental enrichment program, which helps animals stay active and mentally engaged. It was at the Oregon Zoo in the 1980s that the concept of environmental enrichment was established. The first international animal enrichment conference was held at the Oregon Zoo in 1993, producing the book Second Nature, co-edited by former Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager Dr. David Shepherdson and Dr. Jill Mellen, a member of the zoo’s animal welfare committee.
The Oregon Zoo says “Bring your costumed kids to Howloween for treats and safe fun!”
From the Oregon Zoo website: The mission of the Oregon Zoo Foundation is to foster community pride and involvement in the Oregon Zoo and to secure financial support for the zoo’s conservation, education and animal welfare programs. We work with individual donors, corporations and community organizations that share our dedication to creating a better future for wildlife.
Portland, OR. Eight different nonprofits around Hillsboro have gotten together to make artwork and raise people’s spirits throughout the fall. The community project is called LOVE on the FENCE.
AgeCelebration is heading up the effort. On Thursdays through to October 29th, volunteers from 8 different non-profits gather at various Hillsboro School District fences across the community to add their artistic flair to LOVE signs designed by local artist Elizabeth Higgins. The colorful artwork will be up on the fences through this fall. This multi-partner community-building project hopes to encourage us all to choose LOVE more often, by reminding us that LOVE is always on the FENCE. In every moment we each have a choice, whether to reach out and create LOVE, or not.
The community is invited to walk/drive/bike around Hillsboro to experience the LOVE artwork on the fences, download your own copy of the LOVE art to color and share on social media, and donate to the eight participating non-profits as the fence artwork is completed. Follow the project @AgeCelebration and #LoveOnTheFence on Facebook and Instagram for fence locations, maps, downloadable art, photos, updates, and more.
From LOVE on the Fence:
“This multi-partner community-building project hopes to encourage us all to choose LOVE more often, by reminding us that LOVE is always on the FENCE. In every moment we each have a choice, whether to reach out and create LOVE, or not.”
The eight nonprofits that have been involved in the project are inviting the community to come to experience the artwork, download their own copy of the art, to share the joy on social media, and to donate to the different nonprofits. Information on where to go to see the artwork can be found here.
Portland, OR. During the pandemic, most people are spending more time at home and many have taken up new hobbies or found time to dive back into one they previously enjoyed. Physicians at the American Heart Association say that expressing creativity can be good for your health, especially during the pandemic, because having a hobby can relieve stress.
(Attila Csaszar/Moment, Getty Images)
A mother and daughter practice yoga a home.
James C. Kaufman, professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, says that the process of creativity is valuable for people in many ways, both mentally and physically. Taking up a hobby can help because it’s fun. When people are having fun it’s a break from the stresses and concerns that may be troubled them throughout the day. Writing is also found help; when people organize their thoughts, it also relieves stress. Lower stress levels, lead to lower heart rates and improved mood.
From woodworking to calligraphy, building scale miniatures or collecting coins, action figures or antiques– Hobbies are as unique and varied as the people who pursue them.
Activities that are growing in popularity this year are gardening, exercising, spending time outside, playing a musical instrument, and even knitting. When people vary their hobbies by engaging their bodies and minds in different ways, it keeps both the brain and body healthy. And better yet, the benefit does not come from doing a hobby well or masterfully, it just comes from engaging yourself in the hobby.
Are you looking for a hobby? Here’s a video from Bustle about how to find a hobby as an adult.
From the American Heart Association: “Maybe it was the meme that pointed out how Shakespeare used his time in quarantine to write “King Lear.” Maybe it was all those photos of sourdough bread in your social media feed. Maybe you’re just bored. Whatever the spark – you’re ready to take on a hobby. Good idea, experts say.”
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, language, sexual orientation, national origin and physical or cognitive abilities. We’re committed to ensuring that our workforce, workplace and mission have a shared impact across America’s diverse populations.
Boring, Oregon. Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) celebrated its annual Oregon Fun Day event in a new way this year, with a virtual Fun Week for members of the nonprofit’s community of volunteers, clients, and employees. In past years, the event was a single, themed day of robust activities on its Boring, Oregon campus. However, because of social distancing protocols, the event was expanded into a week-long occasion in late July, occurring remotely for its puppy-raising community to enjoy. Attendees were able to virtually attend activities and events with GDB staff, bringing their dogs to the Zoom sessions, as seen above.
This year’s Oregon Fun Week theme was retro video games, resulting in creative puppy costumes. GBD’s volunteer puppy raisers were able to virtually interact and bond with the community. GDB team members created a video session titled “Canine Campus Life” to share what happens when guide dogs-in-training return to campus after living with their volunteer puppy raisers. Other activities included a “How To” video on drawing a guide dog and a healthy recipe for making treats for your dog created by GDB’s Canine Welfare Neonatal Department.
GDB’s 2020 Fun Week event theme was retro video games, complete with a Zoom background for participants to use while attending with their GDB puppy-in-training.
Another highlight of GDB’s Fun Week was the “Pack” Man Challenge. The activity gave participants the chance to venture on a scavenger hunt with their dogs to identify common obstacles a guide dog team may encounter. To conclude the week, GDB community members shared an image of themselves and their GDB guide dog, which was compiled into a mosaic art piece.
GDB puppy raiser, Cory Erickson participated in the GDB Fun Week “Pack” Man Challenge which involves an outdoor scavenger hunt for puppies-in-training to identify obstacles that a guide dog team may encounter such as traffic cones.
With Camp GDB being held virtually this year, GDB sent each camper supplies for the week, including some campfire snacks and a stuffed GDB guide dog toy.
GDB’s virtual Fun Week celebration was one of many virtual events the nonprofit held since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, GDB also hosted its annual Camp GDB virtually, which is a special summer camp for teens ages 14-17 who are blind or visually impaired. The virtual camp included an opening campfire, a meet and greet with one of GDB’s veterinarians, Zoom bingo, and a discussion on the value and logistics of having a guide dog in a high school or college setting. Each camper was also sent a special camping kit in the mail to add the virtual Camp GDB experience. GDB remains committed to providing support for its clients during COVID-19.
Over 375 photos were submitted by GDB volunteer puppy raisers and leaders during Fun Week to create a virtual mosaic of members of the GDB community.
From Guide Dogs for the Blind:
We are more than an industry-leading guide dog school; we are a passionate community serving people who are blind or low vision. All of the services for our clients are provided free of charge, including personalized training and extensive post-graduation support, plus financial assistance for veterinary care, if needed. Our work is made possible by the generous support of our donors and volunteers; we receive no government funding.
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. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) of Portland has successfully maintained the health of current residents while continuing to provide portable meal containers to the community safely via the front door.
The Union Gospel Mission set up a handwashing station outside its building
“We shut the inside services down and did safety protocols to keep all of the men inside COVID-free. And praise God, we haven’t had any infections inside,” reported Bill Russell, who has overseen operations of Portland’s UGM and Lifechange – an affiliated service – for over 30 years. The inside game room and evening services at the 3rd-Avenue location are typically staffed by the 30-50 men undergoing residential recovery from trauma or substance abuse.
Adapting services to meet health regulations still comes at a cost for UGM’s bottom line: connection. “It thins out what we do. Our whole philosophy of the program is to care for people in order to connect with people and coach them.” Russell explained. “It’s been harder to build trust with just the food program, to have the conversations and relational building that’s necessary to build trust…The very concept of wanting to get people to connect is really challenged when you have to maintain six feet of distance and wear a mask.”
Establishing this trust organically has always been a priority for UGM’s volunteer “Search and Rescue” team, who normally go out in the community to get to know residents at local camps like “Right 2 Dream”. A second team provides rides to medical and housing appointments the following day if they discover a need.
UGM’s Search & Rescue team distributes meals safely with social distancing
Russell noted, “A year ago we were moving one person a week out of homelessness into some kind of either program or shelter that led into housing, so there was a pretty good flow. This year, COVID has caused a real lockup on the available places to go. We’ve placed more women with kids out of camps, but single adults have been fairly stuck in place with COVID… It’s really been a game-changer.”
Russell predicts that the economic downturn will generate more need for affordable housing, adding, “We need many more allies.” Those interested can look online for volunteer opportunities or sign up to give monthly.
On June 9th, UGM reopened its thrift store for retail shopping and are accepting donations. Face coverings and social distancing are required to ensure the safety of guests and volunteers, and hand sanitizer is provided throughout the store. UGM has requested that clothing donations be sealed in plastic bags upon arrival.
From the Union Gospel Mission’s website:
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, RESTORING THE ADDICT AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. SINCE 1927.
Union Gospel Mission provides more than 250,000 meals a year to the homeless and people in need. In addition to meals, the Mission provides food boxes, a day room with coffee and snacks, clothing, hygiene items, referral services and emergency cold weather shelter to the homeless.
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