Community Heroes Issue
Typically, here in our Good News Letter we share success stories of the kids in our programs and thank you letters from them. In this issue, instead, we want to express our gratitude to a few heroes.
We are grateful to be a part of a community where people care. Our neighbors are touched by kids facing struggles, and they respond.
Neighbors see us matching kids with caring adult mentors and see how it changes the lives of both for the better. They see the Little Brothers and Little Sisters showing improved academic achievement, better family relationships, and reduced attitudes toward risky behaviors.
Other heroes see homeless youth, kids who daily face sacrificing their education and futures to meet immediate needs of food and shelter. They see vulnerable and often invisible kids who need a safe place to live while they try to finish school, get a job, and save money to start a new life. These kids need life skills for living on their own, and our heroes help us respond.
Our heroes see our program for youth in the juvenile justice system at J Bar J Boys Ranch: kids who want and deserve a better future but need the skills to build one. Bad choices have led them into trouble, at J Bar J Boys Ranch they get an opportunity to learn how to restructure their thinking to make better choices.
Our heroes respond, making a difference and being examples to other business leaders. We are grateful for your support.
Community Hero Dennis Murphy
These heroes are people like Dennis Murphy of Hayden Homes. Big Brothers Big Sisters received an extraordinary gift from Dennis, we are deeply honored by his generosity. Dennis was a Big Brother for years (and is still in touch with his Little Brother), has served as Chair of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon Advisory Board, and helped BBBSCO grow and thrive in the early 2000s. He continues to be a hero!
In the community, Dennis is CEO of Hayden Homes, a company with a wonderful legacy of philanthropy. Not only do they support us and other non-profits in our community, Hayden Homes founded First Story to ‘help deserving individuals and families in need achieve the dream of home ownership.’ Since 1998, the gift of home ownership has been provided to 82 deserving families and over $1.3 million has been donated to charitable organizations to enrich Northwest communities where Hayden Homes builds! Dennis, Hayden Homes, and First Story are working hard to break the multi-generational cycle of poverty!
Community Hero Dan McGarigle
For the past four years, Dan McGarigle and his crew at Pine Mountain Sports have chosen a local non-profit partner for their Community Ambassadors Program. For an entire year, they raise funds to provide a big boost to their partner charity. Rallying his community, Dan asks customers and other businesses to participate, offers up high end mountain bikes and helps set up raffles to give them away, and donates 50% of all Pine Mountain Sport’s Black Friday sales!
In 2019 Cascade Youth & Family Center and the LOFT were chosen as the Community Ambassador Program Partner. We were awestruck by Dan’s commitment to help those who are less fortunate in our community through his personal commitment and business’ generosity. Over the course of the year, the Community Ambassadors Program raised $73,380 for CYFC!
Community Hero Don Smith
Hearing a rumor that we were planning a vocational program at J Bar J Boys Ranch, Don Smith volunteered to help. As the former owner of Comfort Insulation, Don’s ties to the construction industry in Central Oregon run deep. He jumped in to spearhead the project, and through his connections, he convinced several businesses to donate their time, services, and materials. The gifts came in the form of things like demolition of the existing structure on the site, the concrete for the foundation, and insulation. The cost savings were a huge factor in our ability to complete the project on budget.
Doors opened on the new vocational facility in December. The boys are excited about the opportunity to learn skills that can help them land a job when they leave our program. Don describes it as ‘Choices to Chances:’ giving youngsters, who have made bad choices, chances for a better future. We are so touched and grateful for Don’s hard work on this project! He has also returned to a seat on our Board of Directors.
There are many heroes in our community, and we appreciate you! Large and small, together we create a community of support for at-risk kids and families. Thank you for supporting us, for helping us close the opportunity gap and end the cycle of multi-generational poverty. And today, in particular, thank you to Dennis, Dan, and Don, for going above and beyond to help kids in our community build brighter futures.
A Hero of Our Own!
Woody Medeiros, Director of Grandma’s House, is a nominee for the Community Hero Award at this year’s Bend Chamber Women of the Year Awards. Woody has changed the lives of so many young women and babies over the years, she is a true hero! Woody became a part of Grandma’s House as a volunteer in 1992, the year it was founded. Soon after, she was a case manager, then stepped up as Director. After 25 years, she began looking for a plan to ensure it would continue after her own retirement, and the program became a part of J Bar J Youth Services.
The following is excerpts from her Community Hero Award nominee page:
My life in the world of pregnant and parenting young mothers began in 1989 when my 16-year-old daughter broke down in tears and told me, “mommy, I’m pregnant.” Those words started me on my path to the most important and meaningful role I would play in life (outside of family).
As I looked for resources and support, I found very few, however, in my search, I discovered that there were other pregnant teens who were homeless, in need of so much more than just shelter. They needed love and support. In 1989 we took a 7-month pregnant 14-year-old into our home and later an 18-year-old making an adoption choice for her baby; they are still like family to this day.
In early 1992 I started volunteering with Grandma’s House. The residents referred to me as Wednesday Woody, because I committed to volunteering every Wednesday for the rest of my natural life. I didn’t realize then how close to the truth that would be! I loved being there for the moms and babies – it was quite eye opening on things that were going on in their lives.
Although I am not a founder, I am part of the foundation of Grandma’s House. I have supported every young mother and rocked every baby that have come through our doors.
We have a home in Redmond which became available for a couple of our kids in our Independent Living Program. These are young adults who have aged out of foster care and need someone to fill the role of parents to teach life skills and help them over hurdles like rental applications and setting up a household of their own. In preparation of moving in, the house was a mess and these kids had little other than their clothes.
Furnish Hope stepped in to make their move not only much easier, but their new home lovely. The organization ‘Furnishes Hope for families transitioning out homelessness by transforming bare dwellings into warm, inviting homes.’ They are heroes!