Best New Nonprofit
For nonprofits, creating a compelling story of accomplishments through video, photography, and the written word can mean the difference between luring future-redefining grants and gifts and laying off staff members. Enter CreativeCares, a fledgling nonprofit that pairs creative professionals with the charities that need their skills. Founder Burk Jackson, a veteran freelance photographer, calls the service a kind of Match.com for creatives willing to donate their time to the nonprofits that inspire them. Since its inception in 2010, CreativeCares’ roster of more than 80 copywriters, graphic designers, photographers, filmmakers, and more have helped tell the stories of nonprofits serving everything from Oregon’s homeless population to disabled children in rural Tanzania. In the coming year, Jackson aims to bump his well of creatives and nonprofits to 1,000 each. “Thirty years ago Mercy Corps was just an idea,” Jackson says. “As creatives, we need to be asking, ‘How do we support the other nonprofits to help them become that kind of organization?’”
Honoring our Elders
Senior Citizens Council of Clackamas County
In 2008, West Coast Bank received near daily phone calls from a 70-year-old woman complaining—not about check fees, but about her hunger. So the bank notified Adult Protective Services, which turned to the Senior Citizens Council of Clackamas County, a senior advocacy group. SCC’s investigation revealed that the woman’s family had moved into her tiny house and were squandering her Social Security checks, leaving her without money for food or insulin. The SCC quickly intervened: within two days, they had set the woman up with regular medical care and moved her out of the house. A few months later, they sold her house (depositing the money in her bank account) and ensured her Social Security checks stayed in her hands. Sadly, the initial scenario isn’t unique. Money is most often at the heart of the issues the SCC helps resolve, says executive director Christina Bird, one of just six staff members. In its 40-year history, the SCC’s staff and volunteer force of 25 have helped a small city’s worth of seniors—some 40,000—get back on their feet, be it simply helping them set up auto bill pay, moving into more affordable housing, or, sometimes, untangling more difficult familial financial messes. “Each referral is just as important to us as the one before,” says Bird. “Not only do we—in some cases—save lives, but we also preserve dignity.”
Keeping Us Healthy
Project Access Now
After Gordon Eastman lost his job in 2009, he began having a hard time speaking in coherent sentences. Without health insurance, and convinced he was losing his mind, Eastman ended up at a free urgent care clinic that attributed his impaired mental functions to a case of untreated diabetes. Since the clinic wasn’t set up for the ongoing treatments he needed, providers there turned to Project Access Now, a four-year-old group that helps connect uninsured low-income patients in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington with a network of 3,000 health care providers willing to donate their time. PAN determines what practitioner is the best fit for the patient’s needs, then helps schedule appointments at the physician’s regular offices and even provides appointment reminders and transportation. “A little bit from a lot of people makes a big difference,” says executive director Linda Nilsen-Solares. We’ll say. To date, PAN has connected nearly 6,000 patients like Eastman (who not only found his way back to health, but also found a new job) to the care that, in some cases, saves their lives.
Most with the Least
Farmers Ending Hunger
To say Oregon has a robust agricultural industry is kind of like saying New York has a decent fashion scene. In 2009 alone our state grew more than 50 million tons of fruit, and that’s to say nothing of the vegetables, grains, fish, and ranch products we also raise each year. Sadly, that bounty doesn’t always find its way to the mouths of our citizens; a new report from Feeding America ranks Oregon second only to Washington, DC, for childhood hunger. But Oregon growers of all kinds are working to change that through Farmers Ending Hunger. Launched in 2006 with a donation of 173,000 pounds of frozen peas, the program stocks pantries like the Oregon Food Bank, soup kitchens, and shelters with supplies donated by farmers and ranchers. Last year, the program distributed about 2 million pounds of fresh fruit and veggies, frozen produce, locally milled pancake mix, and ground beef. Yet after five years in operation, Farmers Ending Hunger still has just one employee—executive director John Burt—and operates on a shoestring budget. In essence, this nonprofit is powered by the people who till the land. “It’s been amazing to see how farmers step up,” Burt says. “They want to be good corporate citizens in the world, but also make the highly personal decision to feed hungry people.” We call that farm-to-heart.