PeaceHealth helps innovative Eugene-based nonprofit expand to Cottage Grove and create a model to take the program to more communities
This guest viewpoint by Alicia Beymer appeared in The Cottage Grove Sentinel in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Beymer is chief administrative officer at PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center and at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District.
When I and others at PeaceHealth heard that 88 teens are experiencing homelessness in Cottage Grove, we knew we had to do something.
That is why PeaceHealth contributed $45,000 to help bring 15th Night, a program in Eugene-Springfield, to Cottage Grove to build on the efforts already underway.
15th Night is a community-based program that serves youth who are navigating school and life on their own, without a permanent place to spend the night.
The program is named 15th Night because teens who camp out, sleep in their cars, or temporarily stay with other families for more than 15 nights are more likely to drop out of school and experience homelessness long-term, service providers have observed.
We at PeaceHealth have seen firsthand the difference 15th Night is making for teens in Eugene-Springfield. Last year 15th Night helped connect almost 800 students in Eugene-Springfield to local resources and services.
We are so impressed by the program, and the young adults on the Youth Action Council who help run it, that we wanted to support its expansion into south Lane County.
The start-up funding from PeaceHealth Community Benefit and the Cottage Grove Community Medical Center Foundation enabled 15th Night to begin a “listening tour.” This is an initial assessment to better understand what youth in Cottage Grove are experiencing, what they need, and how schools, public service agencies and everyday residents can respond to those needs. The funding also is helping 15th Night learn how to take its model to other communities.
At the heart of 15th Night is its Rapid Access Network (RAN). Just like it sounds, this is a network of many caring community members and service providers who are willing to pitch in to help youth in need. When a teen asks for help, the network swings into action. Specially trained RAN advocates in the schools and community respond by sending an alert to local agencies and community responder volunteers for whatever is needed--food, clothing or emergency shelter, for example.
15th Night created a RAN in the South Lane School District in October to help meet the needs of all students and families. So far, the network has met requests for such items as coats, shoes, clothes, water bottles, toothbrushes and bicycle locks and helmets.
Community advocates also proposed, and launched in October, a RAN for people staying at the Carry It Forward shelter. It has fulfilled requests for coats, gloves, hats, clothes, socks, diapers and personal hygiene products.
Coordinators of both RANs in Cottage Grove are working together to recruit community responder volunteers. Together, the two RANs have more than 100 volunteers—a testament to our caring and committed community.
Thank you, Cottage Grove, for once again seeing a need and stepping up to meet it. Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference at a critical time in a young person’s life and help prevent a lifetime of homelessness.
To become a community responder volunteer in Cottage Grove, please complete the form at www.15thnight.org/cg-volunteer-form.