It means searching for a place to escape the extreme cold, scavenging for food and trying to make sure that Santa comes for every child, even if he only brings the basics.
While Santa may not be real, Thrive Central Oregon is. Thrive is a local nonprofit working to ensure that every family and person in need has a warm place to stay and something to eat throughout every season.
What is Thrive Central Oregon?
Thrive Central Oregon is a nonprofit that connects people who are struggling with the resources they need, including housing, healthcare, employment and benefits, as well as food and basic needs.
“Thrive specializes in linking individuals and families to permanent housing and community resources,” explains Thrive Central Oregon’s Executive Director, Sarah Mahnke. “Our internal network of services, applications, guidelines and connection strategies are constantly under development. As such, we provide a solid level of case management that helps families get their individual needs met.”
Who Thrive Serves
During the 2020/2021 service year, Thrive staff met with 300 households each month and connected them with 450 resources. Of the individuals that sought Thrive’s services, 26% were houseless, while 45% were at risk of becoming houseless.
According to Mahnke, 94% of those seen by Thrive Central Oregon have low or extremely low income, 55% are female-identifying, 30% are families and 54% report a physical or mental health disability.
“Individuals who seek support from Thrive are greeted with respect and assistance in connecting them to the services they seek,” says Mahnke.
The primary request Thrive receives throughout the year is housing. “For those with limited, shared or no housing, the winter months can highlight what people do not have and may be struggling to obtain,” Mahnke explains. “In the winter months, we can find ourselves trying to get creative with our funding to assist families with supporting their desired traditions or having a special meal.”
Thrive Central Oregon is Unique
Thrive Central Oregon is the only organization in Central Oregon that provides the following combination of client-focused services to vulnerable individuals and families:
- The staff meets clients where they are, at designated sites across Central Oregon.
- Thrive provides connections to a full spectrum of social services, including permanent housing and healthcare.
- Thrive provides comprehensive and professional case management to anyone seeking it.
- There are no eligibility requirements.
Thrive Central Oregon’s Long-term Impact
“By linking individuals and families to affordable and permanent housing and other resources, Thrive prevents people from becoming houseless,” Mahnke explains, “which is more effective and efficient than trying to re-house individuals after they have become houseless.”
Similarly, by providing hands-on coordination to social and medical services, Thrive helps at-risk individuals and families reap the rewards of improved long-term health and well-being. It may be surprising that the simple gifts of health and housing are on the lists of many Central Oregonians this holiday season.
How Families Can Support Thrive
The holiday season can be a time of abundance for many. Gift giving and receiving are a way of sharing love and goodwill. This season, families can direct that abundance to support those in need.
“We are grateful to have support from our community any and all times of the year,” says Mahnke. “It is incredibly empowering to our hard-working team to be supported by the community in ways that help them provide tangible items, on top of support services, to the people we meet with each day.”
The following are ways that local families can give back to Thrive Central Oregon so that they can continue to support those most in need.
Donations give Thrive the ability to support families with rent payments, utilities, gas cards and basic needs support.
Thrive Central Oregon keeps an Amazon shopping list with which to stock their welcome home baskets. These are given to families when they move into housing. On average, they house 13 families per month, so their need for move-in supplies is high.
Thrive Central Oregon is currently working to purchase outreach vehicles that will allow for more direct community service provision across Central Oregon, in addition to their usual outreach sites.
This winter, make the season a little warmer for those in need by supporting Thrive Central Oregon as they play Santa for those in need.
Donation information can be found on their website: thrivecentraloregon.org/donate