We’ve had a big 2019!

At United Way of Central Oregon (UWDC), 2019 has been a big year. We accomplished a couple of notable firsts, as well as continued our ongoing fight for the health, education, financial stability, and resilience of every person in our Central Oregon community.

On September 7, 2019, we hosted the inaugural Central Oregon OVER THE EDGE – a fundraiser in which community members rappelled off the roof of downtown Bend’s Oxford Hotel to raise funds for our community.  During the event, 30 individuals scaled the 7 stories and 70 feet down the side of Central Oregon’s tallest building whilst Ground Party festivities took place in the streets below.

Those who rappelled included NewsChannel 21’s Bob Shaw and Mike Allen, KQAK’s Dave Clemens and Austin Reed, and UWDC’s very own Executive Director, Ken Wilhelm. The event raised approximately $40,000 to help our community’s most vulnerable.

Two days before OVER THE EDGE, we recognized a 50-year United Way volunteer – John Salzer of Sunriver – with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a surprise party held at the Oxford Hotel and attended by his family, friends, and community members.

Mr. Salzer has dedicated his life to giving back. For us at UWDC, he has served on the Board of Directors, multiple Committees, as Campaign Chair, and currently leads our Sunriver Community fundraising campaign. Originally from Michigan, Mr. Salzer now spends the majority of his volunteer time and energy in southern Deschutes County.

“I have been impressed with John’s philosophy of ‘learn, earn, and return’ ever since I met him,” says Diana Fischetti, our director of development and marketing. “John has a saying that he spent the beginning of his life learning, the next part of his life earning, and now is dedicated to returning – giving back. I just love that.”

Also on September 5th, we hosted our Campaign Kickoff Celebration at the Oxford Hotel. At this public event, Jacob Fain, this year’s Campaign Chair, announced the organization’s campaign goal of $1.2 million. Mr. Fain, who is a Family Wealth Advisor and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, has served on UWDC’s Board of Directors for 5 years and is a former Board President.

At the Kickoff Celebration, we officially launched our annual community fundraising campaign to raise funds used to address the most pertinent, unmet needs of individuals and families in our community. The campaign includes not only corporate leaders, but also employees from businesses and nonprofits throughout our region, as well as individual community members.

At United Way of Central Oregon, we are focused on fixing imbalances for today’s kids so that when they are tomorrow’s adults, they can thrive. Together with its 26 nonprofit partners, 100 corporate partners, and nearly 2,500 donors, we help 27% of Central Oregonians.

We are a local fundraiser and a local funder. The money we raise here, stays right here and serves this community. The community fundraising campaign is still underway and striving to reach that $1.2 million goal! To learn more about how to be involved or to donate, call 541.389.6507 or visit www.deschutesunitedway.org.


We just earned $300,000 in grant funding to support TRACEs from the Ford Family Foundation to fund foster care work

Central Oregon’s foster care system will receive a vital infusion of funds thanks to a $300,000 grant received Wednesday. The Ford Family Foundation awarded United Way of Central Oregon a three-year grant on Oct. 9 to support TRACEs’ work in foster care. TRACEs is a region-wide partnership across Central Oregon that helps communities learn how to recognize trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and nurture its antidote – resilience, which means having the supports needed to overcome adversity.

“Nurturing resilience in our community includes fixing broken systems,” said Ken Wilhelm, Executive Director of United Way of Central Oregon. “Systems only work when they put people first. This level of investment in foster care can help us do that by supporting children and families with culturally responsive, trauma-informed care.”

The grant will support the collective effort of a TRACEs foster care working group, made up of dozens of organizations including Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Family Resource Center, Central Oregon Foster Parents Association, Every Child, JBarJ, Friends of the Children and the Oregon Department of Human Services. The funding will go toward key areas identified by that working group, including strengthening biological families, directly supporting children in foster care, nurturing stable, caring and responsive relationships and encouraging system improvements.

This grant comes on top of $565,000 already invested in the three-year shared agenda of the foster care working group, bringing the total investment to $865,000 and putting the movement that much closer to its $1.6 million goal.

“This three-year investment in the work of TRACEs partners will touch the lives of hundreds of Central Oregon kids,” said Katie McClure, executive director of TRACEs. “Our partners’ eventual goal is to eliminate the need for foster care. This funding will help us support children and families currently navigating the foster care system, and allow us to further our efforts in stabilizing and reuniting families.”

To learn more about how to support Central Oregon children and help bring the foster care work to full funding, contact Ken Wilhelm at United Way of Central Oregon. Phone: 541-389-6507
Email: ken@deschutesunitedway.org

About United Way of Central Oregon
Since 1953, United Way of Central Oregon has been strengthening communities in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties and investing locally in our community’s most needed programs and services while simultaneously strengthening our community.

TRACEs is a region-wide partnership of people and organizations committed to increasing understanding of trauma and cultivating resilience. Through collective action, and with backbone support from the United Way, TRACEs is creating systemic cultural change through research, training, education, stronger communities, advocacy and new funding for programs that will have a lasting impact on the lives of all who live in Central Oregon.