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“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Heading out on vacation for a couple of weeks and intending to wander and wonder and come back refreshed ready to face the annual fundraising campaign! It’s almost that time. Summer is beginning to feel like a waning season to me. It takes some time to arrive and then it seems to evaporate quickly, even on hot days.

The work here continues, even when I’m gone or especially when I’m gone. Our great staff always delivers on the mission and vision of United Way. We have an incredible Board of Directors too.

This is a time of reflection here because our new year began on July 1 and the same things happen when the calendar year changes. We look back at our accomplishments, lean into a new year and what it may bring. We had a great year, exceeding our fundraising goals for our annual campaign, for our fire fund and for our new building – all in the same 12 months!

We collaborated with schools to help increase high school completion for students in alternative education programs and schools. We tripled our output on tax returns through our VITA/FSA free income tax preparation program in partnership with Teresa McCormick Center. We received a remarkable grant from the State of Oregon to expand and we did! We continued to help reduce toxic stress in people’s lives through HOPE Chest.

In This Together continues to promote suicide prevention and mental wellness. Thanks to the Suicide Prevention Coalition and grants from Ashland Community Health Foundation and Providence Community Benefit, we were able to get 233 more people in our community trained with ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Training)! And in September, again through Providence Community Benefit, we were able to receive a grant to help launch the Mobile Mental Health Crisis pilot program. Jackson County Mental Health and Mercy Flights are doing amazing work to help save lives in our community thanks to this program!

And our transportation work is going places (bad pun, I know)! We’re completed several travel trainings and offer them in Spanish as well. We’ve done 9 commuter surveys for employer groups. If you’re interested in one, let me know.

Wow this makes me tired and energized at the same time. And we know we don’t do this alone! You’re always with us helping create positive community change! Wander with us on this journey of #LiveUnited!

See you in a couple of weeks.