Daily success stories are mostly untold due to confidentiality
by guest contributor Norm Manly
Photo above (left to right): Kathy Jackson, Karen Anglin, Judi Stanford, Linda Batch, Laurie Adams, Claudia Reed, Maxine Moore, Marie Alice Hurst, Terri Kelly, Catharine Morehead
Just imagine waking up one morning and your world is turned upside down! This event can come in a heartbeat, such as the loss of a job, a horrifying medical diagnosis or a multitude of other reasons. This negative shift in your life can also take place after weeks, months or even years, struggling with addiction, relationship issues, ineffective financial planning and much more. In life’s big picture, it really doesn’t make any difference how you got to this point in life, you are here and now what do you do about it?
In our beautiful Lake Chelan Valley, we might be unaware but we are certainly not immune to the struggles of individuals and families in our community, many living paycheck to paycheck, beleaguered in life and some are homeless! Just trying to survive day to day is stressful, scary and downright depressing but during our cold winter months, survival becomes even more problematic, especially with reduced work for our families who depend on agriculture and tourism jobs. There is also good news in our Valley as we are blessed with an amazing non-profit organization that has been addressing these issues for over ten years, Chelan Valley Hope (CVH).
Chelan Valley Hope is a 501 c-3 non-profit organization that operates with a nine-person Board of Directors under the leadership of Michael Gibb, President. There are only two paid staff members, the Director and a Program Housing Case Manager. The organization currently enjoys 14 amazing volunteers that run the operations on a daily basis. Claudia Reed volunteers as Office Assistant and is excellent at managing the complexities of daily operations. Six volunteers are trained with Front Desk responsibilities, five are Intake Specialists, one serves as Bookkeeper, one serves in the role of an On-line Scheduler and one Non-Food Items volunteer who keeps shelves stocked and helps distribute items to clients. We also want to recognize Pastor Gabriel Ramos of the Berean Baptist Church, who helps with counseling, interpreting and occasionally he translates for Spanish-speaking clients. Retired Pastor, Tom Dunbar also helps in Spanish-English translation.
The search for CVH’s new Director ended on October 2, 2019 when after several interviews with the Board of Directors and President Michael Gibb and the candidate meeting with several members of the CVH’s volunteer team, Jean Gambrielle accepted the position. “I’m very excited to take on this new challenge and very thankful for those who have spent the last ten years making Chelan Valley Hope a success. I hope to build on past successes and advance opportunities to the next level for this great organization,” Jean said.
Michael Gibb, speaking for the Board of Directors and the entire CVH team said, “We are very pleased that Jean has made the decision to join our team. She brings great leadership skills, a long and successful career in the medical field and many transferable skills that will ensure her success as Director. You can read Jean’s complete Bio at the end of this article.
Chelan Valley Hope, located at 417 S Bradley Street in Chelan, is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 3:00. “We encourage people to call first and make an appointment,” said Kathy Jackson, a seven-year veteran, providing the front desk services. “There is paperwork to complete before individuals can be entered into our client database and interviewed by one of our five Intake Specialists. Walk-ins in crisis situations are expedited through the process and helped immediately.
“The next step in the process requires spending 30 to 60 minutes with an Intake Specialist”, said Claudia Swenson, who has volunteered at CVH for nine years. “We do a lot of listening and rely on our experience and intuition, as we evaluate each client’s special needs and work together to create a plan addressing their highest priority needs. In winter we may provide one-time assistance with utilities or rent to keep families safely housed. Often the client leaves with a “to do” list with specific steps to help achieve their goals.”
Needs are many and resources can be in short supply. Unfortunately, many seasonal hospitality and agriculture industry workers find the winter months a real struggle as they fall behind on their bills. Chelan Valley Hope, along with a host of essential local and regional services and agencies understands the challenge and are focused on helping, while treating everyone with dignity and compassion.
The Chelan Food Bank is located in the CVH’s building and is open 8:30 to 10:00 on Tuesdays and 9:00 to 10:00 on Saturdays. Food is just one of the basic needs for people in crises. Lack of medical services, unemployment, need for counseling, programs for drug and alcohol abuse and other needs critical for day to day living and housing. Topping the list is homelessness and that’s where Catharine comes in.
Catharine Morehead is CVH’s Housing Case Manager. Catharine has spent over 25 years working in Behavioral Health Services with a focus in Music and Arts Therapies, before returning to the Chelan Valley. She is also CVH’s trained Database Coordinator, operating the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS is a federal program developed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that tracks homelessness. This data is beneficial for national and local agencies and used to better assist, help, equip, and provide both short and long term solutions for clients facing near-homelessness or homelessness situations, hopefully helping solve our homeless problem.
“Homelessness is an increasing issue in the Chelan Valley because we are a destination area, which has caused the price of homes to go up and many homes have been sold and placed in the vacation rental market for significant profit, said Catharine. Because of this, many families are being displaced and there are no affordable options for them locally. Finding a place for homeless families to stay in our valley, for even a night or two is difficult and expensive.”
So how can you help? At this time of the year, warm clothing is in short supply. If you have coats, hats, gloves, scarves, please donate. These items can be dropped off at CVH during regular business hour or at the Chelan Fire Station. There are several businesses in our community that are accepting non-perishable food items that will be distributed at the Food Bank. A one time or recurring monthly donations to Chelan Valley Hope provides resources that will be shared with people struggling in our community. You can mail your tax-deductible check, payable to Chelan Valley Hope, PO Box 635, Chelan, WA. 98816. Contact Erik Nelson at 509-683-9094, our local Edward Jones representative, if you would like to donate stock. Consider Legacy Giving by naming CVH in your estate giving plan. There are volunteer opportunities at Chelan Valley Hope as well as other organizations in the Valley that make life better for those struggling in life.
Contact Chelan Valley Hope to find out how you can help at 509-888-2114 or visit their website http://chelanvalleyhope.org/