One of the most exciting things happening on the South Coast right now is the awarding of a $100,000 grant to Coast Community Health Center for the development of a new health care clinic in Port Orford. The grant is coming from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF), a community foundation serving the state of Oregon.
Community foundations are designed to match donors with non-profit organizations in a community with the overarching, intentionally broad mission of improving life for people in a given place such as a county, city, or state. Foundations are made up of various funds established by individuals, families, or organizations. The donors can recommend a specific grant recipient, or they can be more general with their wishes and give the foundation the discretion to award money to grant applicants.
The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) was founded in 1973 by William Swindells, part of the Gerlinger family who owned Willamette Industries. Swindells’ vision with OCF was to improve philanthropic efforts throughout Oregon. He started the foundation with a $63,000 contribution; the foundation has since grown to an asset value of approximately $1.8 billion and has to date has delivered over $1 billion to communities around the state. It is currently the 8th largest community foundation in the country.
The mission of OCF is to improve lives for all Oregonians through the power of philanthropy. To meet this broad goal and the challenges and needs specific to the diverse needs of Oregonians, OCF connects donors with the well-researched non-profit causes they care about.
OCF has divided Oregon into 8 regions. The South Coast region includes Coos and Curry Counties and, as is true of all regions, is headed up by a leadership council. Penny Allen, an OCF board member and Bandon resident was the first OCF board member from the south coast. When the South Coast was added as a region, Penny was asked to be on its leadership council and has been the chair since 2004. She believes very strongly in OCF. “It’s a wonderful organization,” she said, “I’m very honored to be part of it.”
The South Coast leadership council was responsible for the hugely successful Ready to Smile program which for seven years has provided school-aged children with dental screenings, cleanings, sealants, dental kits, and education to promote oral health. The program is in the process of being folded into Advantage Dental’s service, but Ready to Smile has been a model for delivering dental care and for problem-solving in the state.
Through several OCF grants over many years totaling $226,000, Coast Community Health Center (formerly Bandon Community Health Center) has been able to make vast improvements to their facilities and capabilities in Bandon. This most recent award of an additional $100,000 will support the creation of a full-service Health & Wellness Center in Port Orford to serve the historically underserved north Curry County. This is an incredibly exciting gift for Coast Community Health and the people of Port Orford. OCF is excited as well, knowing that they are directing funds to an organization that will improve health care options for folks in Curry County.
In preparation for this grant application, executive director Linda Maxon and the Coast Community Health Center in Bandon identified a need for a health care clinic not just in Curry County, but specifically in the northern part of the county that encompasses Langlois and Port Orford. North Curry County has a disproportionately high rate of cancer diagnoses and stillbirths. Years ago, after seeing the health-related issues in the area, Coast Community Health Center purchased land for a future clinic in Port Orford but lacked the funding to build.
This $100,000 grant is the largest single grant to come from OCF to the South Coast, and it will give the jump start needed to get this new clinic built. The new clinic will include a dentist and a much-needed pharmacy in Port Orford; it will be the only one in northern Curry County. The new clinic will be located near Driftwood Elementary School in Port Orford, giving elementary school children easy access to health and dental care.
Penny Allen, although not directly involved in the reviewing of the grant, she did advise the OCF board on the needs of the South Coast through her role on the leadership council. She was able to speak on behalf of the Coast Community Health Center and be very supportive of the application on its way to a final vote by the board.
Penny is very excited about this $100,000 grant and what it will mean for the communities of north Curry County. She is a well-read world traveler, but her heart is in Oregon and the South Coast. Her heart is also very apparent in her work in OCF. She appreciates the fact that OCF is not just “Portland-centric” but instead serves everyone in the state. Penny put it very simply: “We want everyone to be lifted up together.”