A good news story about a nice guy

The founder and owner of Bob’s Red Mill celebrated his 81st birthday February 16th. However, it was Bob who gave a birthday gift his company’s employees will always remember.

Bob gave them his business!

Bob and his wife moved to the Portland area in 1978 when he retired. But rather than retire Bob founded Bob’s Red Mill. Now 32 years later rather than sell the company he gave it to his employees. This is not a small time operation. In 2004 the company was estimated to be worth $24 million and has had very strong growth every year since.

I mentioned to my hairdresser this morning that I was going to eat lunch at Bob’s. She told me her cousin has worked for Bob’s since it was just a small company and he is still in shock over the gift Bob gave him and the other 200+ employees.

Everyday in the newspaper, on TV and radio news we hear all of the bad things that happen in the world. So to me this story stuck out as a good news, nice guy story.

There are more photos that I took back in June on another post about Breakfast at Bob’s Red Mill.

I finally met the Isla Mujeres student that I sponsor

Along with two other women I have sponsored Alejandra since March 2008. Alejandra has been going to university in Merida for 2 1/2 years. She is studying to become a kindergarten teacher because “everyone needs to start school.” Alejandra studies hard and has received excellent grades. While she was home on Isla for Christmas break one of my co-sponsors Wanda and I made arrangements with Maggie (La Gloria English School) to meet Alejandra and her family for breakfast. We met yesterday at Bistro Francais for breakfast with Alejandra, her sister Nidali and her mother Juana. Juana sells pareos on the road to Playa Sol. Juana works on 100% commission and was struggling to support Alejandra’s school and living expenses. Maggie has known Alejandra and her family for many years and reached out  for help so Alejandra could stay in school.

With Maggie’s help we were able to communicate quite well with Alejandra and her family. She plans on staying in Merida after she gets her degree and has already found a school where she would like to teach. Alejandra’s 17 year old sister also has plans to attend the same teaching program in Merida after she graduates from high school. 7 year old Nidali is  an excellent student too. She recently received a diploma for outstanding math scores.

One interesting thing that I learned about the university program that Alejandra is attending is that it is a strict 4 year program. There is no stopping in the middle of it. If a student drops then later wants to complete the program they must start from the beginning. This is very different from the USA college system where many students take much longer than 4 years to complete their  studies to receive a degree. This is why it was so important for Maggie to find sponsors for Alejandra. The $200 US that we give to Alejandra monthly helps her stay in school and takes much stress out of her mother Juana’s life.

Alejandra, Nidali and Juana

Maggie from La Gloria English School

We talked about many other things about island life but that is for another post.

If you are interested in finding out how you can help an Isla student stay in school please  email me.

Clackamas Fire District #1 – Operation Santa Claus

I am heading out to shop for food and toys to donate when the Santa Parade comes by my house this evening. 

“The sleigh bells from Operation Santa Claus have been ringing for the citizens of Clackamas Fire District #1 since 1974.

Firefighters recognized the need to provide toys and food baskets to families and individuals that were less fortunate, and not likely to experience the joys of the holiday season. Hence, Operation Santa Claus was formed.

Operation Santa Claus Is 100% Funded By Donations From Members Of The Community

During this month-long holiday toy and food drive, fire district volunteers and employees lead Santa’s fire engine parade down neighborhood streets to collect toys and non-perishable food items, which are used to fill hundreds of food baskets for needy families. Donated new toys bring a little extra Christmas cheer to children. Donated funds are used to purchase perishable items for food baskets, and help to cover miscellaneous expenses.”


Holiday clothing project – helping kids in need

I usually coordinate a Holiday giving project for our office of about 65 people. In the last 10 years we have given generously to many area agencies to help the homeless, abused women and their children and kids in need.

I sent an email to all of the local employees in my department on November 19th asking for suggestions for a holiday project. Coincidentally less than a week later I received an email from one of the local Telephone Pioneer’s project coordinators regarding the holiday project they were sponsoring this year.

Subject: CHILDREN IN NEED CHRISTMAS PROJECT. “Pacific View Pioneers has decided not to adopt a family this year, but instead help approximately 54 children in the Gresham-Barlowe School District, who are in desperate need of clothing. Grade levels are from 1st grade up to senior in high school”

I forwarded this email on to all my co-workers suggesting we take part in this project rather than doing our own this year. The need had already been identified, someone else was coordinating and all we have to do is pick a gift tag off the Giving Tree set up in our building’s lobby. Easy as can be!

I picked a 6th grade girl who needs a sweater. I went to Fred Meyer yesterday to buy a sweater and ended up buying three sweaters and a fleece sweatshirt. They were all on sale for 30% off. I decided to go down to the office this morning and pick a few more kids tags off the tree. I went back to Freddy’s and bought 2nd & 6th grade girls coats and gloves and a 7th grade girl shoes, socks and slippers. The girl’s coats were on sale for 50% off, gloves 40% off, shoes and socks on sale too.

Tomorrow I will deliver the purchases to the Pioneer’s store in my office building. I am hoping that many others have selected kids and made purchases to help. It makes me feel good to help others. I am glad to be in a position financially that I can help make a difference for some kids in need. Plus it was fun shopping for kids.

The Pioneer’s Giving Tree

How my office is helping Portland’s homeless youths one book at a time

11/21/09 Update: Yesterday 231 books were delivered to New Avenues for Youth. Yeah! Way to go co-workers.

My office recently moved a few blocks up the street from where I have worked for many years. We are still in downtown Portland but there are very different type of people in the area. While we are still located in the core business area there are a couple of small parks in both directions where homeless people tend to hang out. Many of these homeless are young. A co-worker who has come to Portland from Seattle a couple of times asked why there are so many young homeless people on the street. The answer is because the city and county have many services available geared toward the youths in addition to many private organizations. Across the street from the office is  New Avenue for Youths.

What is New Avenues for Youths and what do they do?

Every day there are up to 400 homeless youth from Oregon and Southwest Washington living on the streets of Portland.

At New Avenues for Youth, we are committed to creating and providing excellent programs and services for homeless and at-risk youth to assist them in developing the skills they need to exit street life forever. The New Avenues for Youth continuum of care is broken into four key areas:

Stabilization, Outreach  & Engagement, Early Intervention & Protection and
Skill Building

All four areas come together to ensure that homeless youth have the appropriate resources and support at every stage of their development.

When I was on vacation last month a couple of women in my department ran a clothing drive to gather clothes for the clients of New Avenue.

Then last week a couple of women in my immediate office decided to start a contest between the two sales teams and the sales support team to help support a charitable organization. They sent out this email to everyone on the three teams and a few of us who kind are not really tied directly to one of the teams.

“The benefactor of this competition will be New Avenue for youth GED program. We are collecting books that are required reading for graduation and will be donated to their library.

We have coordinated with Powell’s Books main Burnside location. They are providing a 20% discount for the purchase of new books for this drive. Powell’s also has a large supply of used books available, New Avenues is happy to receive both new and used books.”

Since the original email went out there have been a lot emails talking smack and posturing flying between the teams. Our contest runs until Nov. 2oth. Within the first couple of days the teams had already purchased over 125 books.

It’s all good clean fun competition with the winner ultimately being New Avenues and the future of their clients.

* “Oregon has the highest proportion of homeless people in the nation, according to a new report on homelessness issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”