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The power of giving

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Xerox employee Garry Jones, left and former Xerox employee Dick Spence, right, assemble a new bed for the Parrott Creek Ranch. It’s a story that has grown familiar in contemporary America.

With public funding locked in a downward spiral due to the Great Recession, private nonprofit organizations that work with public agencies have time and again been forced to look to private donors to keep their work alive.

Parrott Creek Ranch near Oregon City is no exception. Formed in 1968 to provide residential services to what were then labeled “delinquent” boys, the ranch now contracts with the county and the Oregon Youth Authority to provide residential services to boys caught up in the juvenile justice system.

“It’s an alternative to incarceration,” said Neil Davies, Parrott Creek’s director of residential services. “It’s an intervention before that need; and for a lot of our youth it’s an opportunity to transition back home from McLaren or Hillcrest (youth correctional facilities).”

Youth offenders ordered to the long-term residential side of the facility typically stay nine months to a year while undergoing therapy, counseling and working toward their GED or other academic qualifications. Short-term residents usually are sent their by county authorities for stays of 30 to 90 days.

Last year, Parrott Creek served more than 1,000 youths and their families with an all-funds budget of some $1.8 million. But it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of needed supplies or undergoing expensive maintenance on the aging facility.

“The cost of doing business, just the costs of heating and food, are continuing to go up,” said Linda Winnett, Parrott Creek executive director. “There’s a gap and we appreciate our community partners in helping us to fill that gap and meeting the needs of these kids.”

In this case, it is the Xerox Community Involvement Program that has stepped up to the plate and delivered in the clutch. Through the program employees recently donated $5,000 to Parrott Creek.

The money was used to purchase 19 wooden single beds from Murphy’s Furniture in Cornelius. The beds replace old metal-framed versions that were well past their prime and featured sagging mattresses that provided little support.

“I wish you’d seen the old beds,” said Davies. “It’s been a need for a long time and really hasn’t been something we’ve been able to afford to address. So seeing someone jump on that is really gratifying; to see that others have some consideration for the youth here — they’re not a cuddly population, though a lot of why they’re here is because they haven’t had that consideration and it’s always amazing to see that.”

Full-service nonprofit group

Until the late 1960s, boys in Clackamas County who committed crimes were returned home or sent to a state training school. Today, they often are sent to Parrott Creek.

Like the rest of Oregon’s corrections system, Parrott Creek has experienced a steadily climbing demand for its expertise at the same time as public sources of funding have traveled in the opposite direction.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Xerox employees, Parrott Creek staff and Parrott Creek board members gather at the ranch last week. From left, front, are Linda Winnett, Neil Davies, Donna Bane, Dick Spence, Kathy Jones, Garry Jones and Diane Adams.“It’s a constant,” said Parrott Creek Board Member Donna Bane. “And the contracts do not cover the full cost of the program.”

That need is what helped catch the attention of Xerox employees Diane Adams, Kathy Jones and Garry Jones, each of whom were on hand Sept. 18 to finish up assembly of the beds and accompanying matching night stands.

“Things that rely on volunteers or donations, we try to help,” said Adams, listing off a host of beneficiaries of the Xerox Community Involvement Program that include Wilsonville Community Sharing, Dogs for the Blind, Dress for Success, the Tualatin Riverkeepers, the Portland VA Hospital and many more.

“It’s a full-time job,” said Adams.

“We collect books for children, even a painting and bunk beds for a shelter in Mount Angel,” added Wilsonville resident Dick Spence, a former Xerox logistics auditor who still works with the community involvement group. “They visit patients at the Portland VA hospital, and we’ve done a tremendous amount with the food bank in Wilsonville.”

When it comes to teenagers still in school, something as simple as a sound bed makes a huge difference, Winnett said.

“It’s very important to their ability to turn their lives around, to get good sleep, good nutrition, therapy and counseling,” she said. “It’s all a part of the big picture.”

And for a group of teens unused to enjoying positive attention, it’s yet another part of their ongoing therapy and transition back into “normal” society.

“It’s a difficult group to engage people with,” said Davies. “But I think once you see the need it’s compelling. These guys, they really have the need of outsiders being interested and supporting them in what they’re going through.

“This is a painful experience for the kids,” he added. “It’s difficult to do treatment, and having a bed to sleep in that doesn’t fall apart or bend or break or is held up by bricks is a really good thing for them and you can’t put a price tag or value on that consideration.”




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