Inspiring Our Next Generation

Young Audiences Arts for Learning Oregon & SW Washington

A dozen fifth-grade boys line the classroom wall, shoulders squared, jaws set. At their teacher’s cue, they cross the room, hold out their arms, and proudly lead their partners to the dance floor. “Once the kids got over the cootie factor, ballroom dancing captivated them and taught them respect for each other,” says Doug Bridge, a teacher at Lot Whitcomb Elementary, which hosted dance specialists from Young Audiences last fall. At a time when dwindling school-district budgets are eroding arts education, Young Audiences brings reputable artists to more than 200 K–8 schools, where they teach painting, storytelling, dance, music, and theater classes. “Each student learns in a different way,” says executive director Dr. Gail Hayes Davis. “Take art away from the curriculum, and you lose kids who had a strong chance of success.” —Kelly O’Connor

Retired teachers and administrators
Volunteers with legal, business, and accounting expertise

Check out our web exclusive slideshow

Sustainable Planet

The Freshwater Trust

“You can drive a Prius, and you can hug a glacier,” says Joe Whitworth, president of river restoration group the Freshwater Trust, “but the fact of the matter is water issues are coming swiftly.” Of Oregon’s 111,619 miles of streams, the Trust says roughly a quarter are too degraded for fish to thrive. The Freshwater Trust is trying to change that. For 26 years, the group, armed with rubber boots and waders, has removed trash and invasive species from our rivers’ edges, helped redirect stream flows to make waterways more fish-friendly, and planted stream-saving trees. Last year alone, the Trust helped restore 850 miles of stream, including stretches of the idyllic John Day and Salmon Rivers. —Meghan Hilliard

Volunteers to plant trees
Donated wine for the annual benefit and auction
Housing for volunteers near freshwater resources (contact the Trust for specific locations)

Check out our web exclusive slideshow

Building Community

REACH Community Development

Forget Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Portland has a better version: Reach. Over the past 27 years, Reach has not only added 1,346 units of affordable housing to Portland’s landscape, but has also provided free home repairs to the elderly and disabled, individuals who might have neither the mobility nor skills—nor the money to pay someone else—to do the job. Consider Louise LaBaugh: after she broke her elbow, 25 volunteers showed up at her home of 47 years and installed a handrail, replaced light fixtures, and even cleaned her bathroom. And like any good Makeover episode, LaBaugh’s story ended with happy tears. “I was crying,” she says. “I never imagined they would do so much.” —Elizabeth Buelow

A work truck
Building materials for wheelchair ramps
School supplies for children in affordable housing