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Covid-19 Vaccines for Albany Helping Hands Residents - March 31, 2021 Albany Democrat Herald

Rural residents of Linn County and other folks who may not be able to make it to the mass Covid-19 vaccination clinics in Albany are still getting shots thanks to the mobile vaccination van that’s been rolling for weeks.

The van, a Mercedes Sprinter bought this year for $100,000 with federal CARES Act funds, has been driving to various locations around Linn County since March 5. The Linn County Board of Commissioners last week approved $35,000 to resupply it with medical equipment.

The van was parked at Albany Helping Hands on Wednesday, doling out Johnson & Johnson vaccines to unhoused individuals.

​Helping Hands operates a homeless shelter in Albany, as well as a few transitional housing units for people trying to get back on their feet. Unhoused individuals just became eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the latest round of eligibility expansion by the Oregon Health Authority.

​“It means a whole lot,” stated a 66 year old retired truck driver who’s currently living out of his car. “I’m afraid at my age.”

​He received a free dose of the vaccine Wednesday afternoon at Helping Hands, where Linn County Public Health officials were working. Not only does the mobile vaccination clinic allow the doses to go where they’re needed most, it makes it a lot easier to coordinate clinic visits rather than trying to schedule appointments for all the unhoused people in Linn County.

​“It’s been life-changing for us,” said Helping Hands Executive Director Emma Deane. “To coordinate 100-plus people to get to the fairgrounds twice (to get fully vaccinated) would just be a colossal task.”

​That’s also why the mobile unit is primarily giving out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, because it only requires one dose and doesn’t have to be stored at the same low temperatures as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

​Deane pointed out, too, that fewer people have been able to be sheltered at Helping Hands’ facilities during the pandemic — capacity is down to 90 people per night from the normal 130.

​“Hopefully, as we get more people vaccinated, that will help us get more people in beds,” she said.

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The van has also gone directly to the homes of people who cannot make it to the clinic at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center in Albany. Over the past couple of weeks, the van has been to homes in Gates, Scio and Brownsville. It’s operated by a small team of volunteers and directed by Neva Anderson, Linn County’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

Right now, the van goes to specific locations and sets up small pop-up clinics or readies the doses required for the folks at the home. But the plan is for the van to act as a full-blown clinic in the near future, retrofitting it so that people can simply pull right up alongside and receive their shots right out of the van.

Next week, the van may go out to nearby truck stops. There may also be more stops scheduled at senior living facilities, where the van would again help at-risk communities by taking doses directly to them rather than having to get their residents to Albany or organize a way to get more doses.

Retired Dr. Terri Homer gives a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at mobile clinic at Albany Helping Hands homeless shelter.

While Benton County has plans to do a similar mobile vaccination unit, it’s not in operation yet. Officials there have partnered with Samaritan Health Services to run vaccination clinics and may be able to use a van provided by Samaritan as its mobile unit. That would be essential for planned clinics out in Blodgett and King’s Valley sometime in April or May.

Right now, Benton County officials are using the term “mobile clinic” to refer to the pop-up-style clinics being conducted at Pioneer Park, for example. These are areas where excess vaccine doses can be delivered in order to administer shots directly where at-risk populations already are.

It’s also important to note that Benton County is loosening its process for how residents can sign up for a vaccine appointment. Before, people had to fill out an eligibility assessment in order to determine if they could even get an appointment scheduled. Now, with eligibility constantly expanding and Oregon’s inventory of vaccines increasing, the process is becoming more open and streamlined.

Early in Oregon’s vaccination campaign, which makes vaccines available to different groups of people in phases, only certain health care workers and at-risk people were eligible. Now, with so many more categories of people — from homeless individuals to professional sectors besides health care — there’s less need to focus solely on certain segments of each group.

“Before, we were very committed to prioritizing within the group,” said Lili’a Neville, Benton County’s joint information center manager. “Now, we have enough supply of vaccine that we don’t have to be as stringent.”

It’s further proof that vaccination campaigns require a lot of moving parts, so ways that each county can streamline the process and deliver doses directly to communities that need them will help ensure that supply matches the demand.

“All of the sudden in the last few weeks, we have hundreds of appointments and they’re spread out over hours,” Neville said. “It’s really flip-flopped from where we were a month ago.”

Mid-valley car clubs team up on sock drive for the homeless - November 24, 2020 Albany Democrat Herald

Carol Hood, a 78-year-old Albany resident who serves as vice president of the Rollin’ Oldies Car Club in Lebanon, says folks sometimes get the wrong idea about organizations like hers.

“People think car clubs, all we do is speed and drag-race,” she huffed.

But don’t let Hood’s sapphire-blue ’57 T-Bird fool you: She and her friends are about more than just revving their engines and cruising the strip. In a friendly competition that also involved Albany’s American StreetMasters club, mid-valley auto enthusiasts have collected more than 750 pairs of socks for people experiencing homelessness this winter.

Hood said she was inspired to take action after noticing a growing population of unhoused people on the streets.

“There’s just so many homeless people, and socks aren’t that expensive,” she said. “I just thought we should do something and this would be fun.”

She floated the idea at her club’s January meeting, and the members were enthusiastic. She got a similar reaction from Ron Shinn when she asked if the American StreetMasters wanted to help out. His club decided to take on the sock drive in addition to their traditional holiday effort of collecting children’s gifts for the toy runs put on by Albany and Lebanon motorcycle clubs.

Shinn, who’s 72 and drives a 1957 Ford 300 Deluxe, said Hood got both car clubs in the giving spirit at the outset with a little holiday-themed needlework.

“She made a couple big Christmas stockings and gave us one of them,” Shinn recalled.

“Folks brought socks, gloves and hats. My wife probably knitted about 50 hats,” he added.

“Some people would bring maybe a dozen socks, or maybe somebody would bring just one pair,” Hood said. “It didn’t matter.”

Over the course of the year, the club members’ small acts of generosity for strangers in need really added up. Early last week, Hood reported the sock count had grown to 762 pairs, but Shinn said the number is still climbing steadily.

“Actually, you can probably count about 20 more,” he said. “One of our members just brought in about 20 pairs of socks and gloves.”

At the end of this month, the groups plan to donate the socks, gloves and hats they’ve collected to Albany Helping Hands, a local homeless shelter.

 

Leigh Matthews Bock, the communications and marketing manager for Helping Hands, was thrilled when she learned about the donation.

“What a beautiful thing,” she said. “I am just grinning from ear to ear. People continue to surprise me and amaze me. This is so generous!”

Helping Hands can house up to 135 people at its shelter at 619 Ninth Ave. SE and the Bailey Home, which serves mothers with children. The nonprofit can accommodate another 24 people each night in its day room, which is converted into a warming center when the sun goes down.

But the agency has been forced to reduce capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet safe physical distancing requirements, meaning there are fewer beds available for Albany residents experiencing homelessness.

Bock said many of the socks and hats collected by the car clubs will go into the 200 holiday gift bags she’s preparing for unhoused people staying at the Helping Hands shelter or living on the streets. The bags will also contain cold-weather essentials such as blankets, rain ponchos and handwarmers, along with some candy (because everybody likes candy).

“It’s cold and wet out there,” Bock said. “Our folks who are experiencing homelessness need stuff to keep them warm and dry – those items are lifesavers,” she said of the car clubs’ donation.

“Not only that,” she added, “but these gifts tell this population that is often invisible, ‘We see you and we care.’”

The car clubs’ sock drive may become an annual tradition.

“I’ve already talked to Ron, and we’re probably going to do it again next year,” Hood said.

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The Bailey Home - For Mothers with Children

Each family that comes through the Bailey Home doors, comes to us with great need. The struggles and barriers they are trying to overcome would be overwhelming to most, and they do it with kids in tow.

 

Most of us have family or friends we can depend on. These mothers come to us with very little to no support.

We are often their primary support system. Allison, House Mom for the Bailey Home, “I feel blessed to be part of these women's support system”.

Bailey Home residents come to us from a world of chaos and uncertainty, they crave safety and security for themselves and their children. Allison shared, “Recently, I had a child who would follow me as I went through the house to lock every window and door. This nightly ritual of reassuring them they were safe helped this child sleep better. It is heartbreaking having nightly talks with a child to reassure them they are in a safe place”.

 

Interested in helping create a safe a place for our Bailey Home mothers and children to heal and begin a new life? By going to our donate page, you can donate to help fund this program or send an email to info@albanyhh.org to request our WE NEED THESE ITEMS DONATED list or learn about volunteer opportunities.

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Wildfires in Linn County - How Albany Helping Hands Responded

On the 9th of September, Executive Director Emma Deane, dropped what she was doing, gathered some of her staff and essentials (kid’s clothes, formula, diapers, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.) and headed to the Linn County Fair and Expo. Wildfires had caused hundreds of people to evacuate their homes and flock to the Expo Center.

 

The community responded with an outpouring of generosity. AHH’s staff worked for a few hours accepting donations and sorting the ever-growing piles of items from a steady stream of donors.
 

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When asked, one of our staff stated, “The community is always so generous to Albany Helping Hands, it felt amazing to return some of that generosity back to our community”.

Albany Helping Hands Shelter was able to provide housing for two folks displaced by the wildfires. Executive Director Emma Deane worked with Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker and County staff on how best to provide shelter for people.

 

The County also invited us to work alongside their Mental Health and Emergency Preparedness teams to help connect evacuees with long term services.

 

Emma said, “What a huge blessing it was to work with our County departments to ensure people felt cared for and that their immediate, and long-term needs, were being met”.

What a year 2020 has been thus far! Community Living Amid Covid-19
 

There is no point in denying it, Covid-19 has turned all our lives upside down and forced us to rethink our daily existence. Imagine you are part of a community living situation where your sleeping quarters, hygiene facility and dining room is shared with dozens of other people. What measures would need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone during a pandemic? This is the battle Albany Helping Hands has been fighting much of 2020.
 

In an effort to keep our residents and non-residents healthy, we have changed many procedures so we can continue to provide services safely. We are so thankful to announce, that as of today, Albany Helping Hands has not experienced an outbreak of Covid-19.

These needed safety precautions have increased our monthly expenses due to the rising cost, and growing need for cleaning, sanitation and PPE supplies. Because of Coivd-19, we cannot allow non-residents in our dining room as we work to keep our residents safe. Because our mission is to never turn someone away in need we are providing, monthly, thousands of to-go meals for those who are unsheltered and food insecure. These to-go supplies have helped deplete our already strained budget.
 

During these tough times, we have been blessed with help from the County and City. We are grateful for the tent, portable restroom and cots they have provided. When we conduct an intake, the new resident is housed in this temporary facility for 2-weeks to ensure they are free of Covid-19.

Please consider financially supporting Albany Helping Hands as the work continues to love, meet essential needs, provide wraparound services and keep folks safe during this pandemic.
 

Forever grateful,

Emma Deane,

Executive Director of Albany Helping Hands

Online Bridge of Hope Fundraiser - 2020
 

After postponing our yearly April fundraiser, due to Covid-19, the wildfires required another postponement. We are so grateful to our generous community for their support and patience of our first online auction. 

THANK YOU to our Bridge of Hope Sponsors for 2020

  • Coastal

  • Chad Davis Construction

  • Frank & Linda Morse

  • Jim & Phyllis Richards

  • Oxford Houses of Oregon Chapter XIX

  • John and Jane Donovan

  • Holistic Housing

  • OFD Foods LLC

  • Jenks Hatchery, Inc.

  • Conser Group

  • Linn Benton Tractor

  • Eads Broadcasting (KGAL, KSHO)

  • Bicoastal Media (KRKT/ KLOO)

THANK YOU to those who donated items

Allen Anderson, Amor Events, Bob Smoker, Bullwinkle's, Carcraft, Carino's, Cascade Grill, Coastal, Conser Group, Corey Bontrager, Courtesy Corner, Dahled Up Painting Inc., Dahled Up Roofing Inc., Dave Liles, Elmers, Emerson Smoker, Emily Hall, Four Seasons Car Wash, Furniture Share, Grant NW Guide Service, Jenks Hatchery, Les Schwab, Linn Benton Tractor Myers Gutter Service LLC, Natural Sprinkles, NW Realty Consultants, Oregon Freeze Dry, Oregon Shade Tree/ Birky Farms, Peoria Gardens, Quinton & Danita Hamel, Quirky Canvas, Southpaws Pizza, Stutzman Excavation Inc., Stutzman Kropf Contractors Inc., Sybaris, Valvoline Victory Pest Control Inc., Xtreme Grafx, and YMCA of Albany.

 

 

Emma Deane Promoted to Executive Director of Albany Helping Hands
 

February of 2020 - Albany Helping Hands announces the promotion of Emma Deane to Executive Director of the faith-based nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Organization. Emma will oversee the Shelter, Kitchen, Bailey Home, Thrift Store, Woodlot, U-Haul, and Christmas Tree Operations.

John Donovan, Vice President and Development Director, stated, "We are pleased to promote Emma. As Farm Manager (ed: overseeing the Woodlot, U-Haul, Christmas Tree, and Tom's Garden Center operations), she has wide experience, and it's great to promote from within the organization. We are fortunate to have Emma, who replaced Pastor John Leon as Executive Director after his resignation in February."

 

Emma, a lifetime resident of Albany, attended West Albany High School. She worked ten plus years with adolescents in special education and support to adolescents and their families through Linn County Developmental Disabilities and in a secure adolescent inpatient facility.

 

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In 2016, Emma began working with adults who were experiencing homelessness, mental health crisis, and battling addiction. Her experience includes mental health case manager for Salem's Salvation Army Light House Shelter, Lebanon's CHANCE Office and House Manager and Albany Helping Hands Guest Services and Farm Manager and guest advocacy coordinator.

Emma's Positive Impact Emerson Smoker, Sr., Albany Helping Hands Board Member, stated glowingly, "After observing Emma's love, compassion, performance and interaction with the guests as our AHH Farm Manager, it was a no brainer to move her into the position of Executive Director. To say the least, it was a seamless move. The residents just love her."

Emma stated, "I have always had a heart for our community of people experiencing homelessness, addiction, and mental health crisis.

These are people in our community that need to be seen, encouraged, offered resources, and loved. Our goal is to come alongside each individual, right where they are in their journey, and walk with them, offer needed resources, and connect them with the resources. We cheer for them and help them break down barriers. We want to advocate for them, believe in them, and truly see each individual and provide accountability.

I strongly believe this is not a one agency fix; we have to come together as a community and walk alongside these individuals. Albany Helping Hands will be actively working to build community partnerships so we can all work together.

 

 

 

I feel blessed to be given this opportunity, and I am excited to see where God takes us. A few years ago, one of Albany Helping Hands' residents told me, "Emma, you were sent here to be our voice." I carry that with me daily, and I take it very seriously".

 

Inez Neal Recognized as Volunteer of the Year - 2019

 

This year’s Spirit of Pastor Bailey Award was awarded to Inez Neal, a long-time volunteer at the Thrift Store.

 

 

We are so grateful for Inez's devotion and selfless service to our organization. She was presented the award in front of a crowd of over 400 at the 9th annual Bridge of Hope  Auction. The auction is the primary fundraiser each year for Shelter and Kitchen Operations.  

 

 

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Albany Angel - Doris Scharpf

 

A Democrat Herald editorial headline proclaimed Doris Scharpf as “Albany’s Angel”. We agree.

 

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Doris was a major, long time donor to Albany Helping Hands and many area nonprofits.   April 2019, she passed away at the age of 95. Pastor John reflected “Where would the Albany Helping Hands mission be without Doris? She has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mission over the years. It is questionable whether we would be here today without her generosity”.

 

Thank you, Doris, for your years of contributions and generosity.

 

The Bailey Home - February 2019

 

Pastor Bailey’s vision of helping those experiencing homelessness in our area was inspired by God more than 30 years ago. Pastor Bailey, founder of Albany Helping Hands, was really concerned about mothers experiencing homelessness. He wanted to provide a safe loving home for them. They needed a place where they could care for their children.

 

The Bailey Home has 6 bedrooms and 2 ½ bathrooms. The kitchen is fully equipped and there are two washers and dryers. The house can safely accommodate 10 people.

This is a transitional home for mothers and their children. Moms like Susan who have two children and no place to go. But, thanks to you, today she has found a safe place for her family - the Bailey Home. Your generosity has helped make it possible!

Special thanks to our contractor, Joel Dahl, and his company Dahled Up Construction. He was responsible for almost $80,000 in donated materials and labor. And, his company donated over $15,000 to the project.

 

Your gifts played a big part in the completion of the Bailey Home, your continued gift ensures the Bailey Home is a safe place for mothers and their children to heal and begin a new life. 

 

Your Donations Enrich Lives - Tammy & Marcus

 

In a 2019 radio interview, Pastor John (Executive Director) discussed how generous contributions contributed to the lives of Marcus and Tammy. 
 

Marcus was self-supporting for many years but came to AHH with a housing need as a result of suffering and surviving 12 heart attacks. Marcus is described as “a gentle soul, he is kind to our residents”. Marcus is now Albany Helping Hands' Property Manager.

Tammy worked for years in Utah providing loving care to individuals as a CNA. Her father passed away in 2017 from dementia. Tammy had been his caregiver. With the loss of her father, Tammy began to struggle and describes that time as bordering on having a nervous break down. She went to spend time with her daughter in Portland, and then headed to the Coast. Tammy’s car broke down and she found her way to Albany Helping Hands for a meal.  She met Marcus there and their relationship began.

 

Tammy now is the Manager of our Thrift Store which generates over $100,000 per year in sales to support Shelter operations. “Tammy is probably the best manager we’ve ever had at the Thrift Store. She's very kind, empathetic, very professional and very compassionate.”

UPDATE: Spring of 2021 - Tammy and Marcus have purchased a home and come back to the Shelter once in awhile to visit 'their family'.

YOUR DONATIONS made it possible for Tammy and Marcus to heal, feel safe and loved, set goals for self-sufficiency and accomplish those goals.  THANK YOU!

 

Marilee Sapp Recognized as Volunteer of the Year - 2017

 

Technically, Marilee Sapp isn't a hairstylist. Her actual business is Marilee's Permanent Cosmetics and Electrolysis, and it doesn't include cuts.

But the Albany resident's styling services have been in demand ever since she taught herself to cut her own hair, in junior high. And now, her many hours trimming and shaving at Helping Hands homeless shelter earned her the title of 2017 Volunteer of the Year. 

Sapp is to be awarded the designation tonight at the shelter's annual "Bridge of Hope" dinner auction fundraiser, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. The event is the shelter's biggest individual fundraiser for annual operations.

Sapp is the secretary for the Helping Hands board of directors. Her husband, Jim Sapp, is president and chaplain. The two are longtime volunteers at the shelter, as are the other board members, she said.

"We have a very working board, so we're all doing something all the time," she said.

Sapp said she's no longer sure how long she's been helping out with hair — could be a decade by now — but she remembers she knew right away she needed to set up a regular schedule. Just squeezing in the time whenever she was away from her own salon wasn't working.

Guests at the shelter know they can make an appointment between 2 and 4 p.m. each Wednesday. Sometimes she sees just one patient, and other times there could be more than a dozen.

"It just depends," she said. "Some days I can't even get all of them. Sometimes I stay over."

Sapp works on both men and women, setting up a sturdy chair in a sort of lobby area of the residence hall.

She doesn't have a sink, a mirror or even a counter, so she doesn't offer permanents or dye jobs. Nor does she have a mechanical chair, so sometimes she'll ask a guest to stand. She brings all the clean supplies in one bag and transfers combs to a separate bag once they've been used.

Given her circumstances, however, Sapp can still accomplish a great deal. 

"If I don't know how to do it, I just tell them," she said

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However, she said, after this many years, there's not much she doesn't know how. "I even did a Mohawk on a gal," she said. Sapp said she saw the need and just stepped in. "There's so many people here that need it, and they don't have the means to pay for it. Everyone needs haircuts regularly," she said with a shrug. "It makes me feel good, and it makes them feel good, too," she added. "And I've become friends with some of them. That's the best part." 

Sapp said she's honored by the volunteer award but surprised. "I think there's plenty of other people probably deserve it more than I did."

Bunk Bed Replacement Project - 2016

 

A bunk bed project at Helping Hands homeless shelter, funded by Albany Mennonite Church with help from First United Methodist, is finally wrapping up. The churches raised close to $14,000 over the winter holidays to buy, assemble and install 50 pairs of metal bunk beds for guests at the shelter. Ten sets are already in place and another 20 are being assembled this week.

The beds will replace older wooden bunks that had been a haven for bed bugs, shelter officials said. The shelter has made a concerted effort to get rid of the pests, cleaning and heat-treating each room and its contents and making sure the possessions of all new guests also are treated and cleaned.

It's working, said Jim Sapp, chaplain and president of the shelter's board of directors. But the metal beds also make a huge difference, because their hard, smooth surfaces provide one fewer place for bed bugs to hide. "It's much, much, much, much, much better," he said.

Pastor Meghan Good of Albany Mennonite has been volunteering at the shelter for the past six years and has been concerned about the bed issue.

"It was making me crazy — but I know how much it costs," she said. She wasn't expecting a full-on campaign, but when she mentioned the need at church, people started stepping up. "People just caught a vision and said, 'We can make this happen,'" she said.

 

Good received the shelter's Pastor Bailey Spirit Award earlier this year for her efforts, Sapp said.

Jim Willhight, the shelter's marketing and development consultant, said the shelter is grateful for all its partnerships as it works toward eventual expansion.  This year's Bridge of Hope dinner auction, the shelter's biggest individual fundraiser, brought in more than $50,000. Held April 28 at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center, the 6th annual event also attracted more than 200 attendees. Both totals are new records for the shelter, Willhight said. Auction proceeds pay for the nonprofit, nondenominational shelter's day to day operations, which involve providing emergency housing, food, toiletries, job training, education resources and other services to roughly 100 people each day. Those needs likely will continue to grow, especially if housing prices remain on an upward trend, Willhight said. Helping Hands is exploring the possibility of purchasing adjacent parcels of land to build more transitional housing. "It is a hope, but if I would bet on it, I'd say 98 percent, we're there," he said. Needs "are only going to get worse, from what I can see."

 

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