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The Curry County TWST
Day Four – Gold Beach and Brookings
Good Morning All! This is the last day of our tour! I want to thank you for following us on our trip through Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties. We met many wonderful individuals who are doing great work in their communities, making them better places for all who live there. Now I'm going to hand things off to our guest bloggers–Joyce White of
Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington and Gina Zotolla of Wild
River Community Foundation.
Until next time,
From Joyce White, GOSW
Greetings from Oregon’s south coast! This is a part of the state I don’t visit often and the financial condition of Curry County had me curious about how communities were managing. So I left Grants Pass and took one of Oregon’s most spectacular routes along the Smith River and dipped into California before arriving in Brookings.
First impressions – the coastline here is much quieter than the central or north coast, it was warmer than I anticipated, the community was bustling with travelers and Main Street had some empty storefronts, but appeared vibrant. Thanks to Sally’s food radar, we ended up having dinner at Black Trumpet Bistro that matched any hip eatery in Portland.
Gina Zotolla of the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, a program of the Humboldt Community Foundation, greeted Sally and me the next morning. Gina delighted in telling us that she knew where we had eaten the night before….welcome to Brookings, a community with a tight social network! Gina’s comment set the stage for our conversations with folks in Gold Beach and Brookings. Participants introduced themselves listing off multiple organizations and community initiatives they work on. We heard from nonprofits that were thoughtfully and creatively finding ways to address the community’s gaps by building on the area’s assets. My favorite is the installation of bicycle rest stops along Highway 101 that provide cyclists with information on local places to visit, eat, or even shower and sleep over. The idea started in Curry County and has the interest of ODOT!
We also heard about real challenges that aren’t easily addressed, primarily the distance between available services. If you are the only domestic violence shelter for 150 miles, how do you reach the women and children who need help? How does a community with a growing aging population provide health care without a hospital?
Hope for this region lies in the spirit and creativity of the people we met and in the leadership of the Wild Rivers Community Foundation. The Foundation is supporting Wild Rivers Connect, a technology platform that gives the community a place to share information about needs, opportunities and events. Building on data provided by Oregon State University the Foundation is beginning an intensive listening tour around Curry County – what do the diverse community of citizens of Curry County want for the future? The Foundation will be sharing this information with the community, policy makers and funders and we at GOSW will stay connected to this work and provide updates.
From Gina Zotolla
Wild Rivers Community Foundation
In true Curry County fashion, the sun was shining on Thursday to welcome my colleagues to our beautiful community. I met both ladies at their hotel and jumped in the car with them to head to the first of two community meetings that day. The drive to Gold Beach provided some wonderful time for me to share some of the great energy happening in Curry County and some of the struggles that we see as the local community foundation serving Curry and Del Norte (in California) counties. Through the exchange of information, a bond was formed and relationships developed. I realized on the drive up that these ladies’ years of experience in the field of philanthropy were also becoming a great resource for me!
Our first meeting in Gold Beach was held at the Curry County Fairgrounds, also known as the Event Center on the Beach, and had numerous community members present. Every community member represented at least one or more nonprofits in the area, with several representing more than three. Many of the participants are participating in the Ford Family Foundation’s Leadership Institute.
We were fortunate to also have Jeff Geiger from Oregon Community Foundation join us to provide further information on OCF’s philanthropic goals. Sally spent time with individual participants after the group meeting talking with folks like Jerry Beck, Wild Rivers Coast Heritage Land Trust. Collectively, Sally, Joyce and Jeff were a dynamic team answering questions and sharing how to be successful applying for a grant. Everyone I spoke to walked away feeling now more connected to MMT and OCF and expressed their gratitude for time with them all! After the meeting we finished with a tour of the 4-H OSU Extension dorm refurbishment project at the fairgrounds. I got goose bumps when we heard of the outpouring of community support and volunteerism for this project that is intended to be an economic driver for the area.
Next, we traveled south back to Brookings, grabbed lunch at Superfly Distilling Company and headed to the Chetco Activity Center. Janice Scanlon, executive director of CAC, and volunteers welcomed us. Again you could feel the passion in the resident’s voices as they talked about their projects and/or needs of the organizations they love. From serving the veterans in our area to helping seniors to working for resources to provide a multi-generational community center, passion and dedication were evident in all of our conversations!
The next morning after Joyce and Sally got a quick pick-me-up of Purple Monkey smoothies at Cream Cafe, I introduced Joyce and Sally to Dan Brattain, Board Member, Wild River Community Foundation. Dan is the CEO/COO of , an air ambulance operation.
I’m proud to be a third generation native of the America’s Wild Rivers Coast and truly feel blessed to serve the community I love. I am inspired knowing that there are organizations, such as Meyer Memorial Trust, that have an interest in the needs of our communities and celebrate our diversity. Today was just another example of the power of partnerships and how through collaborative efforts we can make a difference! Many thanks to Sally and Joyce for making the trek to Curry County to hear and witness the stories of the folks who are on the ground doing the good work everyday.
Thanks for this opportunity to blog with you.
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