‘Our House’ Plans Virtual Gala to Celebrate and Raise Needed Funds

‘Our House’ Plans Virtual Gala to Celebrate and Raise Needed Funds

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.

 

Oregon Parks Forever Raises Funds to Replant One Million Trees Lost to Wildfires

Oregon Parks Forever Raises Funds to Replant One Million Trees Lost to Wildfires

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.

“Hope Reigns” is Theme for 2021 Portland Rose Festival

“Hope Reigns” is Theme for 2021 Portland Rose Festival

Portland, OR. Portland Rose Festival Foundation has elected Dave Todd (pictured with his grandson, Henry) as the new president for a two-year term. Todd is a retired Navy Captain (Reserve) and recently retired from a 33-year career as a university-level teacher. Todd plans on leading a group of board members into the new year of 2021 with the theme “Hope Reigns” for the Portland Rose Festival.

Todd shared his thoughts on the transition into the new year, “All of us feel a sense of loss as we look back on the year that spun out of control and changed our Festival so dramatically. Even so, those of us who work and volunteer for the Festival remain grateful that we are privileged to be a part of the world’s best Festival. The pay-forward for that privilege is we must do everything we can to make sure that the Festival does what it needs to do whenever people are able to return to it. We want the Festival always to be an escape, a celebration, and not a reminder of what was lost.”

“Hope Reigns” 2021 Portland Rose Festival Theme

Todd also served as a Rose Festival Director for 31 years where he worked on a wide variety of committees, held all but one of the Foundation’s elective offices, and chaired multiple committees including seven terms as Chair of the Fleet Committee.

The new year’s elected officers serving with Todd include:

  • President-Elect John O’Hanlon – Bank of America
  • Vice-President Contesa Diaz-Nicolaidis – Alaska Airlines
  • Secretary Dr. Thompson Faller – University of Portland (Retired)
  • Treasurer Bill Poppino – Corporate Airline Pilot
  • Assistant Treasurer Dayna Kirk – The Standard

The Festival board has also elected three new directors for 2021 including Steve Welch, a Senior Mortgage Banker with Guild Mortgage Company and member of the Rose Festival Clowns. Tragically on Jan. 3, 2021, Welch passed away due to a non- COVID illness.

Welch was well respected by the Rose Festival staff and volunteers not only for his wonderful antics as a member of the Festival’s clown family but as an incredibly warm and compassionate person.

The elected 2021 Directors include:

  • Tamara (Tam) Allison – Associate Financial Analyst at Portland General Electric
  • Steven Welch – Senior Mortgage Banker with Guild Mortgage Company (deceased)
  • Mary Abbott Young – Realtor with Coldwell Banker

Looking forward, Todd speaks on health and continuing the tradition of the Portland Rose Festival, “The health of our community and our friends around the world remains the most important thing. The Portland Rose Festival is here to stay. We continue to plan for a Rose Festival celebration when conditions allow.”

From Portland Rose Festival website: The Portland Rose Festival Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves families and individuals with programs and events that promote the arts, education, and volunteerism. We value environmental responsibility, diversity, patriotism, and our historic & floral heritage.

Shop Local with the Arts Council of Lake Oswego Holiday Marketplace

Shop Local with the Arts Council of Lake Oswego Holiday Marketplace

Portland, OR. You could find your next Christmas gift at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego Holiday Marketplace. It showcases work from over 30 local artists including fine art, wood, ceramics, jewelry, handmade gifts, ornaments, textiles, confections, accessories, and more. The Holiday Marketplace is open for in-person, online, and curbside pickup shopping from Nov 28 to Dec 30.

During the two-week freeze that started on Nov 18th by order of Oregon Gov Kate Brown, the Holiday Marketplace is able to still offer in-person shopping with a lowered capacity that is limited to ten people including employees.

“I think what’s great about it is that we still are able to offer some sort of in-person shopping experience and from artists who are local,” Executive Director, Nicole Nathan, said. “So, while it may look a little bit different, we’re still able to offer the same core [values] at the heart of what we do and support our artists while also supporting the artistic community in Lake Oswego.”

The 2019 Holiday Marketplace.

In its fourth year, the Holiday Marketplace is one of the only in-person local gatherings of artists for the Portland and Lake Oswego area. Purchases directly benefit the artists and community-enriching programming of the Arts Council and this year the Holiday Marketplace can be found at the ARTspace Gallery.

For those who would like to stay local and stay safe while shopping, an online option will be available for the first time due to COVID-19 coinciding with the opening day of the Holiday Marketplace on Nov 28. The online shopping platform won’t feature everything from the gallery, instead, a few pieces of work from this years’ artists will be available to browse.

Nathan believes that this will be a good option for those who either live far away or might be sheltering place, because of travel restrictions, since they might not be able to come by in person. The online Holiday Marketplace will be able to reach those from further afield and still be able to enjoy some work, by local artists, or artists who they love and have seen before.

Some of the artwork offered at the Holiday Marketplace last year.

With restrictions in place, the Holiday Marketplace will look different this year with fewer wearables such as clothing and textiles. Vendors will also be further spread out to adhere to the six-foot guidelines. With the few pieces of clothing that are offered those will be disinfected between each visitor among other extra precautions.

ARTspace Gallery is taking all the safety precautions for a safe visit including:

  • Face masks are required to visit
  • Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the gallery
  • Safe distance decals and public capacity are enforced
  • Sanitizing and cleaning after visitors
  • Contact-tracing – provide information where the public can check-in
  • Requesting people to stay home if not feeling well

According to Nathan, “We have an incredible number of artists who’ve been with us in past years and some new work as well. There’s some beautiful work, that you can get for yourself or your loved ones; It’s really in great support of not only our artists but helps support the arts council throughout the year.”

From the Arts Council of Lake Oswego website: The Arts Council of Lake Oswego works to ensure that arts are an integral part of life in our community, now and into the future.

Literary Arts Puts Portland Book Festival Online

Literary Arts Puts Portland Book Festival Online

Portland, OR. For the past 35 years, Literary Arts has built a community around literature, books, and storytelling. A yearly highlight was the Portland Book Festival, pictured above. This year due to COVID-19 the nonprofit is moving its annual Portland Book Festival online where people can attend for free.

Up until this year, Portland Book Festival was a one-day event that drew about 9,000 attendees. Now participants will have access to the event over the course of two weeks from Nov. 5 to Nov. 21. There will be more than 100 authors, writing classes, and book events of all genres for kids, teens, and adults to explore.

The festival will also feature an exhibitor fair and writing classes for adults/youth that will be accessible online. Pop-up readings have also been filmed at the Portland Art Museum and are being offered digitally as well.

Holman Wang, a writer of children’s books, sits with a fan from the 2019 Portland Book Festival.

Festival Director, Amanda Bullock speaks on the Portland Book Festival going virtual, “The festival strives to offer something for every kind of reader and offers a diverse lineup of authors from exciting new voices to literary superstars. I really hope that the virtual festival throws the doors open even wider and that more folks get a chance to be a part of the festival.”

According to Andrew Proctor, Executive Director of Literary Arts, before going virtual there would be roughly 200-300 volunteers to help with the festival; however, the new digital format this year is not conducive to volunteer opportunities.

Although the Portland Book Festival is different this year, according to Bullock, she hopes the event will be a chance to discover parts of the festival they otherwise might not have before.

Attendees walk around the 2019 Portland Book Festival looking at the different vendors.

Volunteer opportunities may not be available for the 2020 Portland Book Festival, but there are other volunteer positions available on the Literary Arts website. One virtual opportunity is to become a college essay mentor to junior and senior high school students where a majority are first-generation applicants to college. Check out more about the volunteer opportunities here.

From Literary Arts website: Our mission is to engage readerssupport writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.

Howloween at the Oregon Zoo Offers Perfectly Spooky Stroll

Howloween at the Oregon Zoo Offers Perfectly Spooky Stroll

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.
  • See other safety measures here.

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.

BACKBONES Advocates for Civic Engagement and Mental Health During COVID

BACKBONES Advocates for Civic Engagement and Mental Health During COVID

Portland, OR. Unlike many nonprofits, online operations are no new challenge for BACKBONES. This organization provides support and education for people with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D). In-person meetups like that pictured above have been replaced by monthly peer-to-peer chats. The BACKBONES team already worked remotely, according to Executive Director Reveca Torres. They have successfully continued their online-based leadership program and boosted attendance for their monthly virtual meet-up group PeerConnect.

PeerConnect provides a space for people with SCI/D to take their minds off their worries and build relationships. Program Coordinator Shannon Kelly chooses conversational topics and activities for the group. Lately, numbers have grown. “At first, it was just a few people, and now we’ve had a consistent number of attendees,” says Torres. On September 19th, PeerConnect will host a discussion on managing mental health during COVID.

The BACKBONES Leaders Program also took place over video call pre-pandemic. As a result, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders were not major obstacles. The Leaders Program prepares individuals with SCI/D to advocate for others, be civically aware, and serve as role models. On October 22nd, BACKBONES will host a virtual celebration of this year’s participants and discuss plans for next year.

Before the pandemic, backbones created events and experiences that promote awareness and engage people of all abilities.

Despite BACKBONES’s preparedness, COVID did introduce new challenges for the organization. Many have turned to BACKBONES for help managing their healthcare mid-pandemic: for example, providing protective equipment for in-home caregivers. The nonprofit’s board had to cancel some in-person events. Economic hardships have made donations slow down. Also, some in the SCI/D community also feel an added layer of anxiety due to talks of ‘medical rationing.’ “Society doesn’t see disabled lives as valuable often,” Torres explains. “There’s this fear that, if it comes to rationing medical care, that people with disabilities would be at the bottom of that.” 

Discussions of bias in medicine and disability rights intertwine with subjects like racism and policing. The Black Lives Matter movement continues to shed light on these topics and encourage solidarity between marginalized groups. “It’s been nice to see that disabled voices have been included. A large number of people with disabilities are victims of police brutality,” says Torres, citing officers’ frequent inability to communicate with autistic, deaf, and mentally ill people.

However, the intersection between racial justice and disabled rights gives Torres hope. According to her: “Everything that’s going on — with COVID, with BLM, with all the issues really — it’s bringing to the surface different issues we all face at the same time and if we work together we can make change in a more efficient way.”

From BACKBONES’s website: BACKBONES exists to help people with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) and their families connect with their communities. We do that by creating events and experiences that promote awareness and engage people of all abilities.

BACKBONES was born when friends and family of Reveca Torres started a fundraising campaign in order to help pay for medical expenses after a spinal cord injury. Surrounded by great people, Reveca realized the importance of a support system to help reach one’s goals after an injury and the impact others with similar injuries had — they provided motivation and confidence that couldn’t be found elsewhere.

With the support and guidance of so many, Reveca Torres and co-founders Veronica Gott, Patricia Mikicic and Annie Gonzalez put a long-time goal into motion and transformed BACKBONES into what it is today: a place to connect with others with the purpose of learning, teaching, and sharing.

Union Gospel Mission Goes Mobile for Upcoming Operation Overcoat

Union Gospel Mission Goes Mobile for Upcoming Operation Overcoat

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Bridge Meadows Intergenerational Communities Change Gears

Bridge Meadows Intergenerational Communities Change Gears

Portland, OR. The Bridge Meadows model is an intergenerational neighborhood where adoptive families of youth formerly in foster care bond with their older neighbors. The nonprofit has had to dramatically alter its operations due to the pandemic. “In our community, it’s about one-third elders—adults over 55 is how we define that—and then families who have adopted kids out of foster care,” Director of Communications Lindsay Magnuson explains. “The way everything is built is so people can connect, and that means being in person, face to face, doing things in the courtyard. And so [Covid-19] has kind of ripped away this way of connecting that has been so essential for people in our communities, and so we’ve had to pivot and figure out: how do we maintain that feeling of intimacy and connectedness without the physical proximity?” 

Several of the Bridge Meadows elders in North Portland started busily sewing masks to support local health care workers.

Bridge Meadows will be hosting its annual fall auction and gala, IMAGINE, on September 17th. The event will be hosted—as in previous years—by KGW anchor Drew Carney and Benefit Auction 360’s Johnna Wells. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event will be held virtually. 

“We are aiming to do a very interesting, dynamic and short program,” said Bridge Meadows Director of Communications Lindsay Magnuson. “We really want it to be valuable because the event usually has this community reunion feel, and so we wanted to kind of try to replicate that as much as possible.” 

“Though our event will be held online this year, we are excited to celebrate the resilience and power of intergenerational community with you in new ways. Hear stories from the community about the impact the Bridge Meadows Model has on the lives of children who have experienced foster care and how you can help us bring this solution to more communities.” 

Bridge Meadows lawn prior to the pandemic.

Many of Bridge Meadows programs, such as check-ins with its members and therapeutic groups, have been adapted into virtual programs, and members have been hard at work figuring out how to help older members who are uncomfortable with newer technology and parents who are adjusting to homeschooling. 

According to Lindsay, “We’ve also been brainstorming with the community about how—now that we kind of know a little bit more about how [Covid-19] is spread—figuring out how to safely connect in person with [social distancing].” 

On top of the upcoming IMAGINE gala, Bridge Meadows has also been hosting virtual roundtables, where community members, partners, champions and donors get together to check in with one another and host Q&A sessions. 

For those interested in supporting Bridge Meadows, Lindsay recommended signing up for their newsletter, attending their virtual events, and making financial contributions. 

While the pandemic has created many challenges for Bridge Meadows, Lindsay noted that there has been some benefits: “I think that this experience has really made us become more comfortable with how you diversify your methods of maintaining community. We have learned how to do that very quickly, and we’re still learning,” Lindsay said. 

About Bridge Meadows: 

Bridge Meadows develops and sustains intergenerational neighborhoods for adoptive families of youth formerly in foster care that promote permanency, community and caring relationships while offering safety and meaningful purpose in the daily lives of older adults.

 

FACT Oregon Hosts Virtual All Ability Youth Event

FACT Oregon Hosts Virtual All Ability Youth Event

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.