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Life and Health

Back to FY2021 Community Benefit Report

Making a difference—one family at a time

For more than a decade, a small group from our local Department of Human Services (DHS) managed an anonymous email group led by Chris Evans, a Community Development Coordinator for the district that serves Union, Baker and Wallowa counties. He saw an opportunity to fulfill the unmet needs of various DHS program participants by reaching out to individuals via email.

"We'd get requests—for example, maybe a crib or a child's dresser. People in our community love to help their neighbors. So I started putting out an email request—here's a kid who needs help," he says.

Filling a need

The anonymous "Underground" email group was born. Evans would email out a request, someone from the group would fill the gap, and needs that otherwise would likely have gone unmet were taken care of. The Underground provided a safety net for many years, but Evans knew that while a lot of connections were being made, as the Underground grew the painstaking system of manually collecting information and items, seeking responses and connecting all the dots was cumbersome and potentially unsustainable.

"Many of us were literally storing furniture in our offices,” he recalls. "I began shopping the concept of a community resource network. I talked about it to anyone who would listen to me.”

By September 2020, the Eastern Oregon Community Resource Network (EOCRN) was born, with the active participation of representatives from GRH, the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization, the Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Initiative, Union County's Local Community Advisory Council and MODA. The success of the program has exceeded all hopes.

% of rates of filled requests

  • Mattresses/bedding: 56%
  • Clothing: 86%
  • Housing: 82%
  • Medical: 91%
  • Transportation: 50%
  • Food: 100%
  • Misc: 73%
  • Pets: 57%
  • Employment: 100%
  • Household: 75%

Building each other up

The EOCRN is seeing unprecedented success, with an average 80% success rate in fulfilling unmet needs. Although similar programs like this have not been as successful in other parts of the country, Evans believes it works here in Eastern Oregon because our roots in an independent can-do attitude and pioneer spirit make us "built for it."

"The reason it has been so successful is that rural folks just love to help their neighbors," he says. "We just have to put the need out there—here's the gap, here's the kid—and they step up. I get so excited because it really is the little things that we can help with before they turn into big things. I feel so privileged to be in this position, where we can help build each other up."

Categories: Community report

Lend a helping hand

The EOCRN provides an anonymous opportunity to serve the needs in our local community. If you’re interested in getting involved, visit eocrn.org to learn more.

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