Welcome to our first issue of Thrive Central Oregon's Monthly Newsletter: Thriving Together. Beyond sharing program updates and news, we hope this can be a place to build community -- something we all cherish and work for every day here in Central Oregon, especially in recent times. I am uncertain how to summarize this past year. January and February seem a lifetime, and lifestyle, away. I had no understanding then of the changes that were coming. Changes that impacted the stability of businesses, housing, how our kids go to school. So many things. For our work at Thrive Central Oregon, this meant that our primary mode of communication shifted overnight. We went from asking community members, “please don’t leave a phone message, come to a walk-in site” to “our walk-in sites are closed, please call us and we will help you over the phone.” I wasn’t sure then how this change would work and felt overwhelmed just thinking about the level of increased need that I knew was coming.
Our work is so relational. We sit with people. We learn about their lives, their struggles, their resiliency, their goals. We work together to connect them to the housing, the income, the medical support they seek in order to reach those goals. I was not sure we could do this work over the phone. By May I learned we could not only do the work over the phone, but we were actually reaching folks in the rural areas of Central Oregon better than ever. By June our numbers were increasing. We were accustomed to seeing around 300 households per month, and we were steadily moving toward 400. It was working! With our team of committed staff and partner agencies that were willing to adjust their pre-pandemic way of doing things, we were connecting. We were getting housing applications completed, supporting folks with rent and mortgage assistance, navigating unemployment systems, and helping clients set up virtual medical and mental health appointments. We have changed our model to adjust to the times. And we have increased access to our services in the process.
I cannot thank my team, my community, our funding partners and board of directors enough for the support you have shown us through these last several months. I am so grateful.
I do not know what the coming months hold, but I do know that the team at Thrive Central Oregon will continue to link community members to the services they seek. I do know we will continue to support partner agencies with updated resource information. Coming together, I know we can do this. Thank you for being part of this effort, Sarah Mahnke