By Carrie Struss, January 29, 2019
By Carrie Struss, January 29, 2019
As a company, Living Room donates 5% of our annual profit to local charities. As individual agents, we donate a minimum amount per transaction to one of our Loving Room Fund charities, along with allowing our clients to choose a charity and donate on their behalf. Every three years, Living Room agents collectively elect and invite a group of charities to present at our company meeting so three new charities can be selected. After all the charities present, we then vote on the next group of Loving Room Fund recipients. This year, ten organizations with varied focuses all pulled at the heartstrings, making for a very difficult decision. We had so many wonderful organizations with great causes and missions present, I wanted to take the time to recognize them all. Below you will find links, descriptions, and missions of all the organizations we were blessed to hear from. If any of these stories resonate with you, I urge you to donate, whether money or time, to help them continue the beneficial work they do within our community.
Greater Than – The mission of Greater Than is to support and empower students from poverty- impacted communities to thrive in school, college and career. To that end, we identify and convene quality best-in-class partners (based on track record, evidence of impact) and recruit them to join our collaborative whole school model on their own dime. Our programs focus on students and families from Oregon’s most poverty-impacted communities, promote culturally responsive family engagement. We work closely with parents, who are the primary drivers of program priorities, are long-term—we work with students and their families from Pre-K through college and career, and are inclusive—we do not “cherry pick” students and are deeply committed to educational equity.
Harper’s Playground – Our quest to design and build playgrounds that work for everybody began in 2009 after our five-year-old daughter Harper tried to approach a play structure in her walker at the park a few blocks from our home—and got stuck in woodchips. Frustrated she was unable to climb, slide or simply play in virtually all playgrounds, we set forth to design and build a better model and fund it ourselves. In 2010, we created Harper’s Playground, a non-profit organization dedicated to building better, all-inclusive playgrounds around the world. Our first project? Uniting our community to help redesign and rebuild that very same playground in our neighborhood.
Impact NW – Impact NW is a premier provider of educational and social services in the greater Portland metro area. Our mission is to help people prosper through a community of support. Impact NW is a private non-profit organization that began in 1966 as Portland Action Committees Together, Inc. (PACT). Four neighborhoods came together and created the agency to address the growing problems associated with poverty in the area. Since our inception, Impact NW has been a leader in providing individuals of all ages with the skills and resources necessary to achieve success and to advocate for themselves and their communities. Annually, over 30,000 low-income children, youth, families, seniors, and adults with disabilities participate in Impact NW’s comprehensive anti- poverty programs.
Oregon Wild – Founded in 1974, Oregon Wild (formerly the Oregon Natural Resources Council or ONRC) has been instrumental in securing permanent legislative protection for some of Oregon’s most precious landscapes, including nearly 1.7 million acres of Wilderness, 95,000 acres of forests in Bull Run/ Little Sandy watersheds (to safeguard the quality of Portland’s water supply) and almost 1,800 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers. With a staff of 14, including regional coordinators, Oregon Wild’s strength is its active grassroots citizen network. Through the power of 3,000 members, over 15,000 e-mail activists and dozens of active volunteers, Oregon Wild works to maintain environmental laws, while building broad community support for our campaigns.
p:ear – p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives. Each year our programs serve almost 900 homeless and transitional young people ages 15 to 24. To truly exit homelessness, kids must develop the internal strength, skills and foresight to make healthy choices. p:ear provides a safe, non-judgmental environment in which youth are trusted to outgrow unproductive and harmful behaviors. They offer individualized mentoring and education programs in a safe, reliable setting designed to foster trust, build self-esteem and to teach homeless and transitional kids – who all too often are regarded by society as disposable, “hopeless cases” – that they are valuable individuals with a future who have something vital to contribute to this community.
Partners for Hunger Free Oregon – We are leaders in the anti-hunger movement. We envision an Oregon where everyone is healthy and thriving, with access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food. To bring that vision into reality, we raise awareness about hunger, connect people to nutrition programs, and advocate for systemic changes. Our mission statement highlights the three strategies that are fundamental to address hunger at the scale of the problem and tackle the root causes: learn, connect, advocate. This model–gathering and disseminating information, expanding access to key anti-hunger programs and engaging stakeholders in public policy reform– builds on our strengths and leverages the expertise of our partners and those impacted by hunger. As a relatively small non-profit with 10 staff, we draw strength from a wide network of partners, advocates, leaders and donors across the state. From mayors to moms to chefs to doctors, people across the state join this movement in making change. Together, we can end hunger in Oregon.
ReBuilding Center – We offer affordable used building and remodeling materials with the goal of promoting the use of salvaged and reclaimed materials — a non-profit resource to strengthen environmental, economic and social fabric of local communities. We accept donations of reusable building materials that are then priced at 40-90% off retail market values. We do this to make them affordable to people of all income levels. We are a resource for information and materials. Inventory changes daily, so plan your projects, bring your measurements and get ready to be inspired!
Rose Haven – Rose Haven is a day shelter and community center serving women, children and gender non-conforming folks experiencing the trauma of abuse, loss of home and other disruptive life challenges. We break the cycle of homelessness by providing meals, clothing, first aid, mailing addresses, hygiene, restrooms, showers as well as educational programs and guidance through medical and social services. By meeting basic needs and building trust, we empower our guests to explore long-term change.
Transition Projects – Transition Projects helps people transition from homelessness to housing in the Portland metro area. Each year, we assist more than 10,000 people through a broad array of services, resources, and tools. On any given day, we help meet the basic needs of more than 500 people experiencing homelessness through our Resource Center. On any given night, we provide a safe place to sleep for more than 800 people with nowhere else to turn. In any given year, we help place more than 1,000 people into affordable housing – and then support them in retaining that housing. Founded in 1969, Transition Projects is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that today employs a staff team of more than 275 people working across a network of 9 program sites around Portland.
Urban Gleaners – Urban Gleaners’ mission is to help alleviate hunger by collecting edible, surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributing it to agencies that feed the hungry. The concept of picking up and redistributing food is a simple weapon in the fight against hunger. Hunger is less a problem of scarce resources but rather inefficient distribution. Urban Gleaners’ programs include Food to Schools, Emergency Food Relief, Summer Free Farmers’ Markets, and a pilot program called Mobile Market aimed at bringing relief to food desserts.