As Mother Teresa once said, “Give until it hurts.” Lane County has an abundance of nonprofits deserving of your donations — both tax deductible donations of cash before the end of the year and also donations of your time, your blankets, socks, warm clothing, food and other items in short supply. You might get some ideas from our cover image. EW donated all those items to people in need via First Christian Church. We would love to list every single group, and we hope you write letters and comment online to let other readers know of deserving nonprofits that didn’t make it in this year.
The actual Mother Teresa quote from her 1979 Nobel Prize lecture is “But I don’t want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts.” Many of us don’t have a lot to give, but from what little or large amount we have, give your money, give your time, give so others don’t have to hurt.
It seems like the arts are always the first budget to get cut, and that just shouldn’t be. Talk about the arts in this town, and MECCA (Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts, materials-exchange.org) comes up repeatedly. MECCA is a recycled art supply store that keeps “junk” out of the waste stream and helps people turn it into art.
Maude Kerns Art Center (mkartcenter.org) has been a nonprofit community center for the visual arts and part of the cultural fabric of the city since 1950, curating some of the best exhibits in Eugene’s modern history while also offering classes, lectures, workshops and onsite co-operative studio space.
The Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA, diva.proscenia.net) joined the local arts community in 2003 as a nonprofit membership and donor-supported center, which hosts exhibits by local artists, a poetry series with visiting writers and the OpenLens Short-Film Festival (this February the fest celebrates its 10th anniversary).
One of the most exciting recent additions to the art scene is Eugene Contemporary Art (eugenecontemporaryart.com), a platform and space to educate the community about contemporary art, which also jumpstarted an ongoing artist-in-residency program, Public Process, in 2012.
Jazz belongs on Broadway, and thanks to The Jazz Station (thejazzstation.org), downtown is filled with the sounds of some of the best jazzers from around town and up and down the West Coast. But like most nonprofit arts organizations like The Jazz Station, a project of the Willamette Jazz Society, help from the community is always welcome and needed.
Gertie the Bookbus (bookstothepeople.org) is a nonprofit book bus, and you might have seen her parked around town — most recently at SeQuential Biofuels on Chambers — or tootling along in the Eugene Celebration parade. Gertie’s mission is “To serve as roving ambassador of the book, permanently placing free books into the hands and homes of the young, the old, the book-hungry and the book-poor in outlying or underserved areas” and to “foster educational programs that dramatize the ways in which books can and do change lives, helping each reader discover their unique place in the family of all things.” We’re a newspaper; we like helping people read. — Alex Notman and Camilla Mortensen
|A Lean-To hut for Opportunity Village designed by Alex Daniell of Eugene|
In spite of all the financial, political and legal obstacles, Community Supported Shelters has managed to get its hands dirty and make a difference for Eugene’s homeless population. CSS provided Conestoga huts at Opportunity Village and elsewhere, and it has plans to manage a yet-to-open homeless rest stop. More information about these practical people creating tangible results is available at communitysupportedshelters.org.
The recent cold snap showed just what can be accomplished when people work together. Egan Warming Center kept the unsheltered people safe at a time when the need for a warm, dry place intensified. And for all those whose dollars are stretched thin, the center urgently needs more volunteers. Find out more about how to help at eganwarmingcenter.com.
The struggles of homelessness are easily hidden from those of us who are housed, and nobody tries to illuminate them as vibrantly as SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, http://wkly.ws/1nk). The Whovilles and other protest camps seek a large-scale solution to put people who need it in places where they can sleep through the night, improving their lives immediately and removing a big barrier to getting a home.
Speaking of safe places to sleep, Eugene’s experiment with a homeless-run community is going swimmingly, right into the rainy season. At least one person has already transitioned from Opportunity Village Eugene into permanent housing, and it’s heartening how sincerely the residents of the village want to pay it forward and give back to the community that’s helping them get on their feet. Help them help even more by donating at http://wkly.ws/1nb.
With all this focus on shelter, we remember that people have to eat, too. FOOD for Lane County’s Dining Room serves meals in a comfy restaurant setting and displays art on the walls that was made by homeless folks themselves. It’s a nice, dignified place for people that serves an important need. More at foodforlanecounty.org.
Occupy Medical (occupymedics.wordpress.com) serves anyone who needs medical care — insured or not — every Sunday afternoon at the downtown Park Blocks. You can’t miss the big red, white and black bus. The tireless work of OM gives us a glimpse of what universal health care looks like. — Shannon Finnell
Champions like Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon are the reason that we are the only state without any additional abortion-related regulations: It takes effective activists to keep our bodily autonomy safe. Waiting in the wings is a potential measure for the 2014 ballot from the anti-choice crowd that would take away funding for abortion services from the lowest income women in Oregon. To help ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable procedures, visit choiceadvocates.org.
Womenspace (womenspaceinc.org) is another strong advocacy group for women that needs your help — government budget cuts have led to cuts in funding for this much-needed work of preventing “domestic violence in intimate partner relationships in Lane County and support survivors in claiming personal power.” — Shannon Finnell and Camilla Mortensen
The Civil Liberties Defense Center (cldc.org or 687-9180) gives support to local groups and protesters as well as to the everyday person whose rights have been trampled and who can’t always afford an attorney. Sometimes that person is not so everyday, such as a local homeless man with severe bipolar disorder and psychosis who was “forced to endure inhumane conditions and was critically injured while incarcerated in Lane County Adult Correctional Facility for 13 days.” The CLDC got the jail to settle with the man for $500,000 and change its mental health practices and policies. That’s on top of all the other work CLDC does conducting “know your rights” trainings around the state.
Alley Valkyrie and the Nightingale Public Advocacy Collective (respectexistence.org) know their rights. They spend so much time advocating for the right to exist in public spaces, we’re not sure when they have the time to raise money for their cause. — Camilla Mortensen
Everyone wins when someone chooses to bike, but those benefits from diminished traffic, easier parking and a more active population don’t add up to much if people are biking unsafely. That’s where GEARs’ educational arm comes in, holding classes for riders of various levels to help them be safe and comfortable on the road and coordinating events for the rest of the community. Donate to GEARs Education at eugenegears.org/donations.
When your bike breaks and you’re broke, it can cause a whole host of problems. Luckily, among the many projects of the Center for Appropriate Transport is Eugene Bicycle Works, where riders can benefit from cheap instruction and a workspace with tools. CAT also works hard to educate young cyclists, takes underprivileged kids mountain biking and spurs local bike manufacturing. Check out CAT’s other projects and donate at catoregon.org. — Shannon Finnell
Our green city is always fighting one environmental battle or another, and those battles aren’t cheap. It takes a lot of tenacity to tackle the sorts of problems that local enviros shoulder, like the work of Beyond Toxics (beyondtoxics.org). One of its missions is to protect honeybees by banning the pesticides that took out thousands of the vulnerable insects in Wilsonville earlier this year. The group also recently published the West Eugene Asthma and Air Report, which showed that school children in industrialized West Eugene have a 72 percent greater chance of having asthma. If you agree that pollution and pesticides are bad for people, animals and ecosystems, think about supporting the people who fight for a world free from toxics.
If forests and woodland creatures are on your list of causes, it’s hard to go wrong with a donation to Oregon Wild (oregonwild.org), whose campaigns to conserve native wildlife include gray wolf recovery, northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet habitat preservation and restoring the National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin, home to migratory birds and runs of salmon.
The folks at Cascadia Wildlands (cascwild.org) get a shout-out for their continued support of old-growth forests, waterways and endangered and threatened species. In June of this year, the conservation group, in partnership with Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity, settled its lawsuit with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, granting greater legal protection for gray wolves in Eastern Oregon.
Then, of course, there’s the resilient Cascadia Forest Defenders, always standing in the front lines of the battle, hanging out in trees and getting the word out there for Oregon’s forests. They support protecting the O&C lands, which feature in Rep. DeFazio’s controversial plan to increase logging on BLM forests. Recently, the Forest Defenders have been occupying Unit 8 of the White Castle Timber Sale area, camping out in protest of excessive timber harvests, as well as getting arrested protesting megaloads of tar sands equipment.
Sometimes legal action is necessary to make headway in the fight for a healthier planet, and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW, elaw.org) is there in the thick of it. ELAW teams with grassroots advocates from across the world to support clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems that benefit us all. — Amy Schneider
Foxy was rescued by Strawberry Mountain
Rescue and Rehab Center
Here at EW we are a bit prone to doting on our four-legged friends. Some days there are more pets in the office than there are humans, and that sometimes includes the dogs we foster. Save the Pets (savethepets.net or 683-PETS) not only supports spay and neuter programs, it finds homes for beasties in need from kitties to pitties. Overburdened and also in need of help, Greenhill Humane Society (http://green-hill.org or 689-1503) and First Avenue Shelter (http://wkly.ws/1ej) couldn’t survive without groups like Save the Pets as well as all their own volunteers.
One of the best ways to prevent unwanted and homeless pets is to make sure there are fewer puppies and kitties born without forever homes. Willamette Animal Guild (http://wagwag.org or 345-3566) provides low-cost spay/neuter services, as does the City of Eugene Spay and Neuter Clinic (http://wkly.ws/1ni or 682-3643), which also offers shots, deworming and discount microchipping.
Pit bulls in tutus romp and play at Luv-A-Bull (luvabullpitbullrescue.org) in the hills south of Eugene. The group has been helping Lane County’s good-natured pit bulls find homes and shed their bad-dog reputations with its lovely sanctuary. Luv-A-Bull kicked off the area’s efforts to save tiny Los Angeles pups from doggie-death row and now features the Luv-A-Little portion of the rescue. The latest airlift of dogs in need of homes came from Wings of Rescue to Luv-A-Bull in early December. Wiggly Tails (http://wkly.ws/1ek) also takes pups from high-kill shelters in LA and focuses on small dogs (usually under 15 pounds); the group takes in locally surrendered dogs as well and, like the other groups here, is always in need of more foster homes.
It’s not just dogs and cats that need rescue; Red Barn Rabbit Rescue (http://redbarnrabbitrescue.org) in Creswell saves and re-homes bunnies in need. Red Barn has worked tirelessly to put an end to the “animal scramble” in Cottage Grove, where children chase down bunnies in a rodeo arena. Lane Area Ferret Shelter and Rescue (http://wkly.ws/1nj or 484-1090) not only rocks the Ferret Agility Trials each year — formerly the Ferret Olympics, until the real Olympics got mad — it also re-homes the furry little weasels.
Large animals like horses are even harder to find homes for — lots of kids ask for a pony for Christmas but not every family can afford one, or knows how to take care of it. So why not sponsor a pony, or a horse, at Strawberry Mountain Rescue and Rehab Center? Darla Clark works endlessly to not only rescue, rehab and rehome the hoofed and maned animals of the region, she also works with law enforcement to ensure that those who neglect and injure the horses are stopped and often charged with a crime (strawberrymountainmustangs.com). — Camilla Mortensen