Author: Dhyana Kearly

Central Oregonian Feature Article – Meeting the Need

Stepping up when the need is great

Ramona McCallister, December 08, 2020 (Central Oregonian)

One of Crook County's most important points of contact for folks who need food or housing assistance has seen a sharp increase in those needs this past year.

To say there has been an increase in need is a gross understatement, and for President of St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County, Charlie Kurtz, the need to become creative and problem solve is equally as important.

St. Vincent de Paul provides a food pantry for low-income individuals as well as emergency help for those needing temporary assistance.

Sharp increase in housing assistance during COVID

"One of the biggest things that has changed is what we call emergency help," commented Kurtz of the increase in need.

St. Vincent de Paul provides emergency help to low-income individuals needing temporary financial assistance with housing, emergency shelter, transportation or other needs. Last fiscal year, they assisted 166 adults and 161 children with $38,800 in financial aid. The demand for housing assistance increased from 70% the previous year to 84% this past year.

"Requests for emergency help increased dramatically due to the impact of COVID and the loss of jobs supporting low-income workers," pointed out Kurtz.

He said that up to one year ago, they averaged approximately $2,000 per month, except for a spike around Christmas. Now, they are up to $10,000 per month.

"This last year, ending September 30, we spent about $39,000 in emergency help, and 84% of it was housing—rent and utilities."

In October and November, they worked with the city to pay water bills for residents who were behind on their water bills. In October alone, they spent $12,600 in emergency help. City water bills accounted for $3,400 of the total, as the city started shutting off water to customers who were behind in their payments.

"The city sent us $8,000 in COVID relief funds and told their delinquent customers to come to us for assistance," added Kurtz. "We've paid the city $10,020 to get water services restored from September 1 to date."

Kurtz indicated that his concern now is keeping people in their homes – especially with the rent moratorium expiring the end of December.

"We work in partnership with NeighborImpact on rent and utility assistance," he said. "We ask folks to seek help from NeighborImpact first. NeighborImpact refers clients to us that don't meet the specific program requirements they administer."

Food pantry and volunteers

St, Vincent de Paul operates a food pantry that provided food to 700 low-income individuals last month. For the fiscal year just finished, they served 2,812 households with 7,154 individuals with enough food for five days, which equals 107,000 meals.

Households are eligible for food every two weeks. They receive non-perishable food weighing 40 pounds or more, based on the number of people in the household, plus two kinds of meat, eggs, milk and fruit, depending on availability.

"Guests enter a drive-thru in the parking lot at 1103 NE Elm St.," said Kurtz. "They are asked to stay in their car and wear face masks. A volunteer takes their information and posts it on a sticky note on their car's windshield. Three volunteers load their vehicle with food."

St. Vincent is able to provide their services with the help of generous volunteers in the community. Volunteers were designated as "essential workers" by the State of Oregon at the start of the pandemic. Many of their older volunteers stepped back, but younger volunteers stepped forward to fill the vacancies.

"We average 36 volunteers a month, who collectively worked 8,400 hours and donated 30,000 miles commuting to the pantry for work this past year," Kurtz said of his volunteers. "Volunteers are asked to commit to two to four hours a day, once a week. We could use a few strong volunteers to unload and stock 4,000 pounds of food each Monday. Please call our office if you are interested in helping."

He said that some of their best volunteers came to help because of their need to perform community service. They have several volunteers with physical or mental challenges who find a rewarding experience helping unload, sort or distribute food. These individuals are fortunate to have a friend or family member work alongside them.

Volunteers have also been instrumental in helping reach underserved folks in Crook County. At the urging of Virginia Hilderbrand, one of their board members, they started a mobile pantry outreach to RV or trailer parks in the Crook County area, delivering food boxes to people in need who did not drive or were afraid to visit their food pantry for fear that any help they might receive would be used against their application for permanent resident status.

Hilderbrand knows many underserved people in Prineville, and Kurtz said that she has routinely taken food to folks in several trailer parks in Prineville.

"She raised our awareness that many of these folks lost work because of COVID and weren't eligible for federal relief benefits or workman's compensation. At her urging, we started our Mobile Pantry outreach."

Hilderbrand is a graduate of University of Autonomy of Mexico, with a 1987 degree in surgery. She has been a St. Vincent de Paul volunteer since 2006.

"She feels strongly in helping those in need and has been a great motivator," said Kurtz. "We visited 10 parks, the most distant were Sun Rocks RV and Juniper Grove," Kurtz pointed out. "Visits dropped to once a month after school started. We plan to increase the visits to every two weeks."

In spite of increases in demand for services at the local SVDP, they paid forward to the St. Vincent de Paul Rogue Valley Council of Medford for people made homeless by the Almeda fire. Rogue Valley requested "twinning" donations from other Vincentians to purchase tiny houses to be set up in their parking lot to house some of the people made homeless by the Almeda fire.

"We received a $5,000 donation from the Bend SVDP Conference last year when we started back up and decided to pay the same amount forward to Rogue Valley Council," noted Kurtz.

Kurtz reported that the 2021 Business Plan for St. Vincent projects total expenses of $134,000, almost double last year's plan of $70,000. Demand for emergency help is expected to increase to $78,600: $10,000 per month for six months followed by $2,000 per month, as the effects brought on by COVID will hopefully subside. $6,600 is allocated to Redemption House Ministries to support the full-time operation of the women's shelter, which is a resource to direct women who come to St. Vincent de Paul seeking emergency shelter.

"The growth of our business plan was made possible, in part, due to the generosity of last year's donors, which enabled us to carry forward a balance of $44,530," stressed Kurtz. "We pray that our donors will continue their generosity in the coming year."

“Meat the Need” Benefits St. Vincent de Paul

500 Pounds of Beef to Support Our Community

This 2020 year has been especially hard on families who are suffering physical and economic hardship, and so we are profoundly grateful for the generous gift donated by the High Desert Livestock 4H Club.

As part of the Club’s “Meat the Need” community service project, SVdP received a black angus steer raised by Saul Nunez. The Club partnered with Quail Valley Angus Ranch & Butcher Boys which allowed our organization to have 500 pounds of ready-to-give cut and wrapped packages of prime beef.

The High Desert Livestock 4H Club is led by Dennis Hilderbrand and Mark & Casey McKinnon. The 4-H members are shown below (from L-R): Michael McKinnon, Ira McKinnon, Grace Flitner, Joann McKinnon, Jenny McKinnon, Easton Perrin, Cash Wells, Saul Nunez, Paisley Wood, Nehemiah Becker, Taylor Eschevarria and Seth Smith.

This “Meat the Need” 2020 project did exactly that and many in our community are grateful!

Donors Support Keeps Us Focused on Helping Those in Need

We very much appreciate the financial support donors have provided St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County during the Pandemic.  These donations have allowed volunteers and volunteer staff to stay focused on helping those in need.

Food Pantry business jumped in March, serving over 1,000 household members as the Pandemic shutdown hit home. However, as federal benefits flowed in, visits to the food pantry dropped off, declining to their lowest in May.

Inspired by Virginia Hilderbrand, a Board Member, we started delivering food directly to residents of local mobile home parks, starting the end of May.  Many were either not aware of our services or afraid to access them.  We are now back to providing food to over 1,000 people per month.  We have traveled to 7 mobile parks and plan to visit several more.

Demand for Emergency Services was highest in December and January, then trended down to very little in April.  Starting in May, demand picked up, and where it goes will depend on continuing federal and state benefits.  We work to fill gaps in rent relief not covered by State grants administered by Neighbor Impact.  Those seeking temporary shelter are mostly fleeing domestic violence.  We served 37 adults and 20 children in May and June.  We allocate $2,000 per month for Emergency Services.  When demand exceeds that amount, we are spending cash reserves or unexpected donations such as yours.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Charles H Kurtz
President

St. Vincent de Paul wraps up 2019 with gratitude for community support

St. Vincent de Paul wraps up 2019 with gratitude for community support

St. Vincent de Paul releases 2019 Statistics

There are over 23,000 people living in Crook County. Thirteen percent of these people have income under the federal poverty level. That means 3000 people in our County need help just to survive. St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County’s mission is to help these people meet their basic needs. We couldn't accomplish everything we do without the generous support of this community. Today we are sharing our statistics for the past year, with a special note of appreciation for all those volunteers, community members, donors and supporters who made last year a success.

Statistics from our 2019 Year of Operation:

  • Ave. Volunteers  each Month     31
  • Volunteer Hours Works                6,000
  • Volunteer Miles Driven                17,600
  • Food Received, pounds                162,000
  • Households Served                        2,700
  • Total Guests Served                      7,300
  • Equivalent Meals Provided          110,000  (3 meals/day for 5 days)
  • Value of Meals Provided              $165,000 ($1.50 per meal)
  • Emergency Help Provided           $16,940

Pantry Hours to Change

Pantry to open one Saturday each month

The Food Pantry operated by St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County will open one Saturday a month starting November 23rd to accommodate those who work during the week and can’t visit the Panty during normal hours of 1 PM to 3:30 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Pantry will be open the fourth Saturday of month except for December when it will open the third Saturday.

Saturday Pantry hours will be Noon to 3 PM.

The Pantry is located at 1103 NE Elm St., Prineville, OR, on the north side of the parking lot.

Easy access to making online donations — safe, secure option for local donors

Easy access to onlne donations, safe, secure option for donors

Providing easy access to online donor options, St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County continues it's mission to provide aid to the needy

People who find themselves in a tough spot in the Prineville area understand that they can rely on St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County to provide help in a pinch, specifically food and emergency assistance. In an effort to make it easier for folks from all over Central Oregon to contribute to this important effort, the organization recently implemented a new online donation system via the St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County (SVdPCC) website which can be reach by typing in svdpofcc.org.

“Donating online has become much easier for those who support our organization,” said Thomas MacDonald, SVdPCC board member and community advocate. “We now have simple forms that feature the option of setting up a recurring donation directly from our website.  Monthly donations are the life blood of our organization. With the easy and simplicity that this provides, we hope donating online becomes a popular feature for our donors.”

St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County is locally organized and is focused on serving anyone in need with dignity and respect. Through donations by individuals and local businesses, they provide food and a variety of social services to individuals who are in need.

The organization was formed in 1977 and has been an important part of the local community for more than four decades. St. Vincent de Paul is part of an international society devoted to works of charity with more than 4,400 conferences in the U.S. alone. This Conference is located in the rural community of Prineville and serves the people of Crook County.

“Our aim is to promote human dignity and personal integrity through the work we do and the services we provide,” MacDonald added. “We feed and help people every month. Our new online donation system is integral to our work and the process is convenient, safe and secure.”

SVdPCC is located at 1103 NE Elm St., Suite 140 in Prineville. Services are available Tuesday through Thursday every week from 1 to 3:30 p.m. For more information visit the website www.svdpofcc.org or call 541-447-7662.

Bank staff spends afternoon at St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County

Shelk Foundation Matching Grant Fund Drive Success

First Interstate Bank Supports St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County

September 11, 2019, Patriot’s Day, First Interstate Bank, Prineville Branch closed for a community service day. This year, the Bank’s staff spent the afternoon at the St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County (SVDPCC) food pantry working on various improvement projects. In addition, First Interstate donated $500 in materials for painting and other projects in the facility.

Shelk Foundation matches $8K in community donations for SVDPCC

Shelk Foundation Matching Grant Fund Drive Success

The Shelk Foundation donated $8000 to St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County (SVDPCC) as the key element in SVDPCC’s 2019 local fund drive. During this past summer and early fall, all local donations were generously matched dollar for dollar by the Shelk Foundation.  By September, we met the $8,000 goal and was gratefully received the balance of the Shelk Foundation grant.

The Shelk Foundation’s generous support enables SVDPCC to continue the mission to aid Crook County’s poor and disadvantaged residents.  SVDPCC provides USDA approved food boxes to over 1000 people each month.  More than 13 percent of Crook County’s residents live on incomes below the federal poverty level.  The partnership between the Shelk Foundation and SVDPCC helps to ensure people in need receive supplemental food and emergency assistance.

About St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County

St. Vincent de Paul is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) social service agency supported by private sector donations and grants. All donations stay in our local community to serve others regardless of religion, race, origin or gender. Donations go directly to help people in the Crook County Community.

About the Shelk Foundation

Linda and John Shelk

The Shelk Foundation advocates for Eastern Oregon with special focus on Crook, Grant, Wheeler and Harney counties. John and Linda Shelk established the Shelk Foundation in 1994 after co-advising on the OCF Shelk Advised Fund for fifteen years.