Service–What calls us

I’ve been thinking a lot about love these past few months.  In my naiveté, I always believed love could get you through.  It’s gotten me through my toughest times because someone loved me and held me up so it led me to believe it worked for everyone.  This year, I’ve met some folks, on a deep personal level, that were loved and it didn’t work.  And really bad things happened to them and they, in fact, did really bad things in return.  It’s hard to explain.  And it’s not necessary to explain.  What is necessary to explain though is my own myth was exploded.  Love wasn’t the answer.  It sure helps though especially when love doesn’t waiver.

I watched an interview with Wes Moore this weekend.  I think he’s such an amazing man and if you haven’t read his books or seen any of his interviews, they’re worth a look.  As a reminder, Wes Moore wrote the book, The Other Wes Moore.  It’s a powerful true story of two men named Wes Moore, one a Rhodes Scholar and one a murderer who grew up blocks and worlds apart.  During the interview, he was asked about how you know you’re doing what is right for you.   Wes Moore also wrote, The Work.

As you think about what calls you to service, you might want to read this book.  During the interview, there was also a moment when they spoke about what you fight for and who you stand with.  That’s when I realized that maybe I’d been thinking about love being the answer quite naively.  Love isn’t weak.  It’s strong and powerful.  And can stand in the storm.  It is about who you stand with and who you’ll fight for.  It can be ferocious.  If you’re up for the fight to raise more than $1.2 million over the next few months, it’s about time to volunteer for the United Way campaign.  Over the next few months, a small and mighty group of volunteers raise that amazing amount of money to help people in need in our community.  They stand with all of us.  They fight for all of us.  They are doing the work!  Let me know what you think.  Email me at  Onward,

The Shutdown…imagine

Imagine you work for the Federal government because you thought it was a secure job and a way to make a good living for your family.  Imagine you are the sole support for your family while your husband goes to college.  Imagine your child needs a prescription.  Imagine you’re going to work again today and not being paid again.  Imagine your family is actually hungry.  Imagine you’re walking to work because you can’t afford the gas any more.  It’s not that far and you can walk the four miles and then you stand most of the day.  Imagine you’re a single mom and you can’t afford diapers.   Imagine you’ve never had to ask for help.  Imagine you have cancer and you can’t afford the blood or iron you need this week.  Don’t imagine, it’s real.  These are the stories we’re hearing this week and last.

United Way of Jackson County has stepped up to offer $300 Safeway and Fred Meyer cards that help to cover food, gas, diapers and prescriptions through our Hope Chest fund.  We’re not alone in this community doing this work.  There are many others helping furloughed workers.  Now’s the time to step up and give to those providing emergency services.  And when the Food Project rolls around in February, give two bags, not just one.  Because regardless of the fact if this is settled, we have a lot of hungry people in our community.  And if it’s not settled, we’ll have more than 40,000 hungry people because SNAP won’t be funded. 

Call your representatives.  It’s time to solve this shutdown.  I don’t care what side you’re on.  Just call them.  Here are Oregon’s representatives and their phone numbers.

The White House email contact page:

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3753
Fax: (202) 228-3997

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C., 20510
P: (202) 224-5244
F: (202) 228-2717

Congressman Greg Walden

2185 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-6730
Fax: (202) 225-5774


Dee Anne

Shatter the Silence

Shatter the Silence…

Today is a big day. It has taken a long time to get here. More than two years ago, a Big Idea student said to me, “I don’t care how many of us you graduate, how about you keep us all alive.” I was dumbstruck by the statement. The young woman shared a story with me about her friend Zach. He had done all the things that indicated things weren’t okay in his life. He started edging away from friends; he quit going out; he got quiet, really quiet; he took down his social media one night. That was enough. She called his mom. That was the night Zach planned to end his life. He didn’t. Stories don’t all end that well and Zach still needs support. But this young woman launched an idea that I couldn’t let go of either.

I began my own learning journey about suicide, suicide prevention and awareness. I have a learned a lot and still have a long way to go. The most important things I’ve learned are that suicide is the most preventable cause of death and it’s because you can ask people if they’re thinking of killing themselves and it’s an effective intervention.
Through United Way’s work in building community, we brought together great partners from Jackson County Health & Human Services, Jackson County Mental Health, Suicide Prevention Council, AllCare Health, Jackson Care Connect, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Employees and Providence Community Benefit Program to help fund this very creative effort. Our committee is filled with amazing, talented and dedicated people who have helped to shape a remarkable campaign that will target all groups across social media and television. The committee included Amy Belkin, Stacy Brubaker, Curt Burrill, Brande Cowden, Sgt. Julie Denney, Joanne Feinberg, Kristin Fettig, Ashley Hughes, Bill Maentz, Stephanie Mendenhall, Belle Shepherd, Amy Thuren, myself, and was chaired by our board member, Dana Shumate. A special shout out to Jen Urich, who I met for entirely different reasons but helped to inform this work in deep ways. Bill Maentz and his team did some of their best work ever. I believe it will save lives.

You can watch all four spots by going directly to our website,

As the Aboriginal women say, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time, but if you say your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.” We are, in fact, our brothers and sisters keepers. We have a responsibility, in a community double the national average of suicide, to say something. So, as Bill wrote and the ads say…

Southern Oregon, let’s get honest, let’s get brave, ask if they are thinking about suicide! Let’s break, no, let’s Shatter the Silence!

Our Future Home!

Our Future Home!

What an amazing time United Way is in!  We are purchasing a permanent home for the United Way!  I don’t think we ever dreamed of this or maybe more truthfully, I didn’t dream of this.  When I first started here in 1996, we rented and had always rented.  When the economy took a sharp downturn, our board had the great idea to seek donated space.  We sent out an email asking our business partners if they had space available to donate.  On the first day, five local businesses said yes!  And a few asked would we take the best offer or the first offer.  That was really cool!  We moved into a portable building that Providence Medford Medical Center had open on Spring St.  They even helped us with some remodeling and then we outgrew the space.  We sent out another request for a little bit larger space and Banner Bank said yes!  Now, going on five years, we’ve been in donated space by Banner Bank and they need their building back.  That seems fair.  We’ve been pursuing our options for the past 18 months.  We laid them all on the table:  seek free space again, rent (ugh) or purchase something.  We had a building task force and they did great due diligence.  We looked at a lot of spaces that needed a lot of work and I mean a lot of work.  Some that had asbestos, lead pipes and even a little black mold thrown in.  (We’re not moving there.)

And then, thanks to the great partnership we’ve had for years with the American Red Cross, we inquired about their property at 60 Hawthorne St. and we made an offer.  They accepted!  We close on the deal on February 28 and begin renovations immediately.  United Way will have a permanent home that many partners can use for meetings, trainings and events.  There are three buildings on the campus site:  an office building to house out staff; an auditorium building with a kitchen and small conference room; and, a classroom building.  American Red Cross will continue to teach their CPR and First Aid Classes there going forward.  We’ve talked with other partners in the community who are excited to hold classes there including Resolve and Consumer Credit Counseling Service.  The nutrition education collaborative, Great Start East Smart, is excited to have a permanent location too!

With the purchase, United Way is launching a $400,000 capital campaign to purchase, renovate and begin a small building fund for those things that can and will go wrong in the future.  We hope to seek some large gifts:  one –  $100,000; four –  $25,000, ten –  $10,000 and 100 – $1,000 gifts.  We are already at 20% of our goal!  Please join us in continuing the spirit of community that the American Red Cross built in the 60 Hawthorne St. address!  And expect an invite to the dedication in late summer!  Cheerio, Dee Anne

Warm Smile

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. William Arthur Ward
Happy Holidays! Finally sitting down to blog at work on December 22.  Missing wishing those who celebrate Hanukkah a very happy and joyous one because of my vacation!  I hope the season of light was beautiful for you.  For those about to celebrate Christmas, may it be merry and bright!

I had the privilege recently of attending a Wise Women luncheon.  My own faith community was celebrating the Near 90 women.  Each had their own spur of the moment wisdom after sharing a few stories.  The stories were amazing and I wish it had been recorded.  I did manage to capture the brief wisdoms, as I’ll call them.  They were:

  • Mildred Buck shared to remember to accept others.
  • Donna Stuart shared that we all need spiritual nutrition.
  • Sheila Hungerford shared to be slow to judge.
  • Joyce Seebart shared to pay attention to what you’re doing now because it’s going to matter at the end of your life.
  • Barbara Fitch shared to never stop learning.

Each of these women shared such simple, beautiful lessons that just rolled off their tongues so easily.  Imagine if we could remember them as easily.

I just finished reading an on the 12 guiding principles of what it means to genuinely work in community.  We all have rules.  I even have my own rules for living.  I’ve shared them in speeches.  Maybe I’ll share them at the end of this rambling blog.  Back to the 12 guiding principles.  Here they are:

  1. Include those who live there, those who work there, and those who deliver or support services provided there.
  2. Spend time understanding differences in context, goals and power.
  3. Appreciate the arc of local history as part of the story of a place.
  4. Elicit, value, and respond to what matters to community residents.
  5. Facilitate and support the sharing of power including building the capacity to use it and acknowledging existing imbalances.
  6. Operate at four levels at the same time: individual, community, institutional, and policy.
  7. Accept that this is long-term, iterative work.
  8. Embrace uncertainty, tension and missteps as sources of success.
  9. Measure what matters, including the process and experience of the work.
  10. Build a vehicle buffered from the constraints of existing systems and able to respond to what happens as it happens.
  11. Build a team capable of working in a collaborative, iterative way, including being able to navigate the tensions inherent in this work.
  12. Pursue sustainability creatively; it is as much about narrative, process and relationships as it is about resources.

These are great principles.  I always add know what you can do and what you can’t do at the outset.  It helps.

I hope to write again this year but I could get distracted and excited about year end next week.  So, in case I forget I’ll share my rules for living as I go.  They’re mine.  What are yours?

  1. Know what I’m passionate about and know passion is just an emotion.
  2. Know my purpose – why am I here.
  3. Know what I bring – my special skills.
  4. Come as I am—especially not good at being anyone else
  5. Know the difference between my values and my beliefs—because I can be too sure of myself
  6. Have fun
  7. Remember who I’m talking to — the optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist half empty, the rationalist sees the glass twice as big as it should be.
  8. Forget the 30,000 foot level. What can you see from there really?  The Lakota believe you should look at things from 2,000 feet where you can see the curvature of the earth and the mouse, an eagle’s eye view.  I want that one.


At our last board meeting, Helen Funk was sharing a deeply personal story that resulted in her learning it’s okay to #embracetheawkward.  Reach out someone in need.  How can you know?  It’s okay to smile at people.  It is the universal language.  We don’t know what burden they are carrying and a smile can lighten the load.  Be well, cheerio,