“My Coach, My Teammate, My Umpire”
OHRA meticulously tracks and counts the services it provides. But sometimes it is hard to quantify what may be the most vital service – being a companion on a guest’s road to recovery.
Susan (not her real name) is a guest whose story and note of appreciation to OHRA stressed the value of having someone to lean on when you hit a rough patch.
Susan originally came to OHRA nearly two years ago. She had been working with an OHRA partner, St. Vincent de Paul, on the problem of stable housing, but then Susan’s car broke down and she lost both transportation and a potential (although not ideal) shelter. Lead Navigator Tina Stevens worked with Susan and, with other OHRA partners, raised money for car repairs. However, that did not end the problem of her unsafe housing (coach surfing and even sheltering in a former shop). Eventually, Susan moved into the OHRA Center as a stop gap. Tina worked with her to get a HUD and then the housing authority found a landlord who would take the voucher. Here is part of Susan’s note to OHRA, United Way and St. Vincent de Paul.
“This has been a very long journey. But I wasn’t alone on my path. I had you, Tina. You had my back through every single step. I don’t know what I would have done without you rooting me on, being my coach, my teammate and my umpire.”
Susan talked about moving out of her OHRA Center room for its next guest. “This was a wonderful place to be. You are all amazing people.”
Desde que fui referido a OHRA, Tina me ha ayudado con todas mis beneficios de desempleo y con otras necesidades. Hoy tengo la tranquilidad que nunca tenía con esos asuntos. Tina ha hecho toda la diferencia. ¡Es completamente invaluable!”
Since being referred to OHRA, Tina has helped me with all my unemployment and other needs. The peace of mind that I’ve never had with those matters is now there. Tina has made all the difference, completely invaluable!
“2008 was the perfect storm. My photography business had been going strong for years, generating more money than I ever imagined. My problems started with the recession which hit the advertising business hard. In addition to the hits on my career, my health was poor and declining.
Flash forward to 2016. I had lost everything – all my savings, my girlfriend of five years, my home and career. I bounced around to Mexico and finally a friend’s couch in California. In the pits of despair, I finally decided to call it quits and end my life. I looked into getting a gun. I still had my Oregon license and could get one if I just crossed the state line. I looked on the map for the first town over the border in Oregon and took a Greyhound up to Ashland. On the way into town, with the warm setting sun washing over the quaint Victorian homes and cute “downtown” I decided to postpone ending my life.
That night I had to sleep on the street for the first time. I don’t recall how I found out about OHRA, but I had the magnificent good fortune of my first time there meeting with lead resource navigator Tina. Her bright smile and welcoming energy were so comforting. She dove right in with addressing my immediate and long-term needs.
Over the past three years OHRA has either facilitated or outright made possible the following for me: Putting together a resume, housing assistance, food assistance, disability, unemployment, collecting stimulus money, filing taxes, and the list goes on. Without resource navigation, none of that would have been possible.
Today, I am happy to say, I have recently moved into a quaint cottage in central Ashland, I’ve become an active member of the local Unitarian Universalist church and have built a new life for myself here.” -Voz
A couple's story: Rapid rehousing stops crisis from snowballing
John and Judy’s situation was bleak– they were living in a motel for two months after losing their jobs and home. Room costs were eating up their savings. John’s chronic disability made sleeping in the car impossible. OHRA’s navigator quickly recognized the couple qualified for COVID Rapid Relief Rehousing funds. OHRA’s navigator found them an apartment just nine days after meeting them.
When OHRA’s navigator told them “I can get you housed right now,” Judy fell to her knees and cried. Since then, John has secured disability benefits. Judy continues to look for work, but in her words “a world of worry has been lifted.”
A family's story: Hope when everything was lost
A family of agricultural workers came into the Resource Center because COVID had taken their jobs, and the Almeda fire had taken their home. OHRA’s navigator immediately contacted a community partner that found a rental for the family. OHRA connected the family with resources for a deposit and several months’ rent. In a follow-up visit, OHRA was also able to secure utility assistance while they got on their feet.
The parents are now employed and deeply grateful for the help during an unthinkable crisis. With his parents stable, the oldest son was able to stay in school and graduate from college.
"This is the best blessing I've ever received..."
I was recently placed in your guys shelter (OHRA) I just wanted to reach out to you to tell you how grateful and appreciative I am that you guys have been there to help me. I was literally outside sleeping and I didn’t have any hope until I got a call from you to tell me you guys had a place for me to stay. Without this shelter (OHRA) I really don’t know where I would have ended up or what would have happened to me. Since I’ve been staying in the OHRA shelter, I’ve held down a permanent job that I really like, I have a hot shower before I got to work and a warm bed to sleep in. This is the best blessing I’ve ever received and words cannot express how happy and thankful I am for this OHRA being here. I really hope more residents receive the help I’ve been offered. Also they are helping me find a stable apartment. Again, I’m beyond excited and thankful for what OHRA has done for me. It’s by far the best help anyone could ever receive. Thank you!!!!! -Anonymous OHRA guest