Lake Oswego Women's Club to dissolve by year's end. Group passing Lake Run off to Northwest Housing Alternatives

STAFF PHOTO: BARB RANDALL  - From left, bottom row are Katie Ash, NHA grants and communications specialist, LOWC member Tamara Vanderpool, Kristen Barber, NHA director of resources; second row LOWC members Minita Feldsien, Lisa Rainer, Kim Shettler and back row LOWC President Stacey Durbin and Meghaen Anderson, NHA development director. LOWC is passing off the clubs traditional Lake Run to NHA. LOWC is dissolving at the end of the year.

After 44 years of supporting Lake Oswego and the surrounding area, Lake Oswego Women's Club is dissolving.

From its humble beginnings as a bake sale, the organization has donated nearly $2 million dollars to local charities supporting women and children and scholarships for local high school students.

LOWC President Stacey Durbin said changing demographs were to blame for the club closing down. Women were more likely to be stay-at-home mothers when the club was founded; today, Durbin says, many of the members work.

"The Lake Run takes a lot of volunteers and many months of preparation," Durbin said. "We just don't have the manpower anymore."

The Lake Run has been the club's biggest fundraiser for many years, drawing as many as 1,200 to 1,500 runners and raising more than $100,000 at its zenith.

More recently the number of runners has declined and revenue has dropped, though the race still generates significant dollars, which LOWC donates to local charities.

Knowing they needed crucial help in putting on the race, LOWC sought a partner for the Lake Run this past spring, and connected with Northwest Housing Alternatives, one of the nonprofits LOWC supports.

"They were at a time in their history where they needed to build a new Annie Ross house," said Tamara Vanderpool, the Lake Race committee chair.

NHA was unable to have its annual plant sale — traditionally held on the same day as the Lake Run — so they held a smaller scale plant sale at the Lake Run.

"All the stars aligned and we began a true partnership," Vanderpool said.

NHA recruited its volunteers and sponsors to help with the Lake Race.

"NHA went above and beyond," Durbin said. "There was no better way to take ownership of the event."

"We could have walked away from the run," said Lisa Rainer, who has been a LOWC member for about 17 years. "But we love this event and know the community loves it too." She said it made more sense to find a partner to carry the race forward in the spirit LOWC intended.

With a year under their belt, NHA staff and volunteers are gearing up to host the Lake Run 2019, to take place May 11.

"We don't want to change things, just expand on what Lake Oswego Women's Club built," said Kirsten Barber, NHA's Director of Resources. "We hope it will continue to grow." She said NHA has plans to expand the family fun festival events with arts and crafts, and also add a beer garden.

In their typical caring fashion the LOWC members wished to express their gratitude for the support of Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation, and give a "huge thank you" to the Lake Oswego Police Department, and a special shoutout to Officer Doug Treat for his support throughout the years.

Northwest Housing Alternatives believes that everyone needs an affordable, dignified and safe place to call home. NHA has created opportunity through housing for over 30 years. At the heart of their work are families, older adults and people with special needs.

Two overarching principals guide their work, partnerships and equity. They aim to explore and engage innovative partnerships with community-based organizations, business partners and funders to create efficiencies and expand capacity to achieve their mission. And ensure that both their programs and internal operations enhance their focus on social equity by implementing best practices and evaluating accomplishments.

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