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NeighborImpact’s Head Start Program Accepting Applications For 2012-2013 School Year

Give your child a Head Start to be ready for school! NeighborImpact’s Head Start program is now enrolling children for the 2012-2013 school year. Children from low-income families, ages 3 and 4 on September 1, 2012, who live in Crook or Deschutes County, are eligible for the free quality preschool and family support program. To qualify, families need to submit an application along with income documentation to the NeighborImpact Head Start Administrative Office located at 2303 SW 1st Street, Redmond, OR 97756. Space is limited so it is important that families apply soon.

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FootZone’s Seventh Annual “I Like Pie” Run/Walk - $10K and 5,500lbs of food for NeighborImpact

Thanksgiving Day was the seventh year for the I LIKE PIE run/walk and pie baking contest. Since last year’s run, registrations doubled in size totaling 1,600 runners who donated 5,500 pounds of food to NeighborImpact (1,700 lbs. more than last year). The event also raised $10,000 (more than $4,200 raised the previous year), with 160 pies that were brought by registrants. Each registrant was asked to donate $5 and 5 pounds of food to participate in the event. 100% of the proceeds and food donations are donated to NeighborImpact from the event each year. As Teague Hatfield, Owner of FootZone says: “I Like Pie is such a rewarding community event with runners and walkers of all ages and lots and lots of pie. It’s exciting to see everyone getting in some exercise on Thanksgiving and contributing to NeighborImpact and all their vital work in this community.” More information on the I Like Pie run/walk can be found on FootZone’s blog at http://www.footzonebend.blogspot.com/2012/11/i-like-pie-recap.html.

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Redmond Sears Hometown Store to Support NeighborImpact’s Food Bank

Sears Hometown Stores announces its annual holiday food drive for 2012. Stores across the nation will collect non-perishable food items for eight weeks through Dec. 31. The local Sears Hometown Store in Redmond is partnering with NeighborImpact’s Food Bank as part of the national event. As a thank you, the Redmond Sears Hometown Store, located at 224 SW 6th Street, is giving people $5 off any $50 purchase for every can of nonperishable food donated, with no limit to the amount of food brought in. At the end of the event, the local store will donate all items to NeighborImpact’s Food Bank. With more than 950 locations, the organization hopes to impact communities throughout the country. At the local store level, Sears will recognize people who donate, not only with the promotional offer, but also by decorating the store with Giving Trees — signs hung up with names of individuals who donate in the store. “We are a family oriented store and we want to give back to the families in our community” says Redmond store owner, Ron Troutman. Activities such as a visit with Santa and a large display of cans are being planned during the Holiday Food Drive. “Food Drives in all communities are important to the work that we do, and we appreciate when a national organization such as Sears supports the local community. “said Sandy Klein, Food Resource Specialist. Local food donations count for approximately 40% of the 2.5 million pounds of food collected and distributed throughout Central Oregon each year. For more information on the Sears Hometown Store Holiday Food Drive please contact Ron Troutman at 541-526-5905. For more information on NeighborImpact’s Food Bank or hosting a food drive contact Sandy Klein at 541-548-2380 x 148 or email sandyk@neighborimpact.org.

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Low Income Households Realize Goals with Matched Savings Program

A matched savings program run by HomeSource of NeighborImpact provides financial incentives to help low income households achieve long-held savings goals. For every dollar invested into the program also known as an individual development account (IDA), three dollars are matched by the state. “The spirit of the matched savings program is to help people develop regular savings habits,” notes Laura Fritz, Housing Director of NeighborImpact. “Saving on a regular basis is key in dealing with the unexpected expenses that arise whether you run a business, own a home, or are going to school.” Income qualified households identify a savings goal such as home ownership, creating or expanding a business, paying for higher education, or making repairs to their home to address health and safety issues. Clients develop an action plan during their participation in the program that includes mandatory participation in financial fitness classes and meeting with a financial coach. Clients work with a coach to get on a savings plan and learn skills that will help them be successful when they achieve their savings goal. Income restrictions do apply to the IDA program. For example, a four person household in Crook or Jefferson County would have to earn $51,120 a year or less to qualify for the program. A four person household in Deschutes County would have to earn $53,100 a year or less to meet income restrictions. The funds, made possible by state tax credits, enable an individual to receive an additional three dollars for every dollar they save. “This program is one of the most interesting programs available today,” says Fritz. “It promotes asset building while also encouraging skill development and self-sufficiency.” Households must participate in the IDA program for a minimum of six months and earn 80% or less of the family median income in their county. Anyone interested in applying for the program should contact Yolanda Vanderpool at 541-323-6564 or yolandav@neighborimpact.org Please refer to the website www.homeownershipcenter.org for income restrictions and additional information.

Click here to download the official press release


NeighborImpact Weatherization Program has Impact on Community and Economy

In recognition of National Weatherization Day on October 30th, the NeighborImpact Weatherization Program announced it has weatherized more than 104 homes in 2012 to date by providing home improvements such as insulation, air sealing, and efficient mechanical equipment. “That means over 300 of your low income neighbors will be able to conserve energy and reduce their costs for heat, cooling, and electricity,” said Weatherization Manager Emily Quaka. "The money saved by reducing their energy bills can now be used by these families in the local economy to pay for clothing, food, and other essentials in their daily lives.” This year the Weatherization Program also completed projects that included installation of solar panels on 84 low income affordable housing units in Madras and Bend and installation of ductless heat pump systems in 40 units in Redmond. These projects provided a combined $1.2 million dollars of revenue into our local economy by employing local contractors and purchasing solar panels built in Oregon. These were made possible by funds awarded to the State of Oregon from the Department of Energy for Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers (SERC) projects. The source of funding was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The NeighborImpact Weatherization Program provides free, grant funded weatherization. Eligibility requires an application, income qualification and homeowner approval. For more information please go to www.neighborimpact.org/homesource or call 541-316-2034.

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New Foreclosure Prevention Services Announced

The State of Oregon and HomeSource of NeighborImpact today announced important new resources to help Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook County homeowners at risk of foreclosure. A new website, OregonHomeownerSupport.gov provides information about foreclosure prevention counseling, legal assistance and other programs for the tens of thousands of distressed homeowners in Oregon who remain at risk of losing their homes. The website is funded through Oregon’s share of a National Mortgage Settlement with five of the nation’s largest loan servicers. The Oregon Legislature appropriated nearly $4 million of this Settlement to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) for implementing programs that support foreclosure prevention, including the new Foreclosure Avoidance Mediation Program. The largest component of the OHCS appropriation was dedicated to expanding the network of trained foreclosure prevention counselors across the state.

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Scott Cooper Appointed as Executive Director of NeighborImpact

The NeighborImpact Board of Directors is excited to announce that Scott Cooper has accepted their offer to become the new Executive Director of NeighborImpact, succeeding its long term retiring executive, Sharon Miller. Cooper joins NeighborImpact from the Partnership to End Poverty. He will assume his duties on September 24, 2012. For the past two years Cooper was the Executive Director of the Partnership to End Poverty. Prior to that, Cooper led Crook County as Judge/Administrator implementing and creating policies that supported local residents. He previously served two terms on the Oregon State Housing Council and recently concluded a term on the Oregon Commission on Children and Families, where he served on the executive committee. He is the long-time treasurer for Mosaic Medical and chair of the regional Public Transit Advisory Committee. He served 14 years as chair of the regional economic development board, and is a former chair of the regional workforce quality committee. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Crook County School Board. In addition to a local nonprofit background in Oregon, he also has worked in large national nonprofit organizations in Indianapolis and Denver. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Scott Cooper will be leading one of Central Oregon’s largest nonprofits, a multifaceted service agency with 10 major programs, 15 offices in the tri-county area with a cadre of roughly 200 employees and an annual budget of $14 million dollars.  Cooper was chosen from a qualified pool of more than 60 candidates after an extensive nationwide search. 

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NeighborImpact’s Weatherization Program Completes $2.8 Million ARRA Grant

NeighborImpact recently completed its final weatherization project utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. This special grant provided an additional $2.8 million over three years to expand NeighborImpact’s Weatherization Program for low-income home weatherization and improvements. Over the three years NeighborImpact completed a total of 428 units utilizing ARRA funds: 304 homes were weatherized, 84 units received solar panels and 40 units received ductless heat pump units. Financial support for this project came from Oregon Housing and Community Services and originated from a US Department of Energy (DOE) grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. There were more than 7,500 completions statewide as of press date. In the most recent quarter reported (January-March 2012), the ARRA Weatherization Assistance Program was 1st out of approximately 200 ARRA federal programs in the number of direct jobs created or retained (as reported at www.recovery.gov).

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Gardeners Can Help NeighborImpact’s Food Bank In Many Ways

*Now in its fourth year, NeighborImpact’s Grow A Row Project helps connect fresh produce with the 19,000 people who are accessing emergency food in Central Oregon every month. In 2011, Grow A Row brought in over 4600 pounds of locally grown food to the Food Bank’s Warehouse in Redmond where it was quickly distributed to partner agencies throughout the region. NeighborImpact’s Food Bank is planting a seed in the minds of local farmers and gardeners to consider dedicating a row of vegetables or extra produce to help those who are less fortunate in our community. As gardening gains more popularity and the USDA predicts another 2.5 to 3.5% increase in food costs, participants in Grow a Row are encouraged to donate throughout the entire season and can bring produce to the Food Bank Warehouse in Redmond or donate directly to a local food pantry. A current list of agencies is available through our website at www.neighborimpact.org/growarow.

*For the 2nd year, NeighborImpact is seeking groups, individuals and sponsors to help with their Demonstration Garden located at the warehouse in Redmond. Last year, over 1000 pounds of tomatoes, peas, onions and lettuce were produced in our 1200 square foot plot thanks to the OSU Master Gardeners and numerous volunteers. This year the garden has been expanded to 1700 square feet but needs the support of volunteers to plant, weed and water. This is a great opportunity to address the root causes of hunger, while learning different ways to successfully grow food in the Central Oregon climate. Printed material and hands on education on various methods of growing are available at the Food Bank.

*Gardeners and farmers are also encouraged to participate in the 3rd Annual Backyard Farm Tour, August 25 & 26. The Backyard Farm Tour, a collaboration between NeighborImpact and Celebrate the Season, features urban vegetable farms and gardens in the Bend area. This year’s tour is being expanded to include more outlying areas and people with chickens and other livestock are also encouraged to participate. For more information on becoming a sponsor or participating in the Backyard Farm Tour, contact Julie Schiedler at Celebrate the Season, 541-CHICKEN or e mail wa@bendbroadband.com.

Click here to download the official press release


Mortgage Assistance Program Now Open to Unemployed Oregonians

Residents of Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson County can now apply for the Mortgage Payment Assistance Unemployment Program. The program is administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services and can provide up one year in mortgage payment assistance or $20,000, whichever comes first to approved homeowners. The program is available to homeowners that are receiving Unemployment Insurance to help them avoid foreclosure while they seek work. OHCS expects to serve approximately 3,000 homeowners with the program. Homeowners can start the process with the program’s online application at www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org. Local agencies, such as NeighborImpact, will process applications and support participants throughout the program. “We are very happy to be a part of helping our unemployed neighbors,” said Selef Spragg, Housing Center Manager at NeighborImpact. “Mortgage payment assistance will allow people to focus on getting a job without the added anxiety of making a monthly mortgage payment.” Homeowners can apply for the program online, during two-week application cycles. The program website provides helpful information about application cycles, including a how-to video that answers the most common questions about the program. A first round of the state’s mortgage assistance program has provided more than $40 million in benefits on behalf of more than 4,000 Oregon homeowners. Homeowners without internet access can visit their local WorkSource Oregon Center for computer and printer use. Prospective applicants can also call OHCS at 503.986.2025 for application support.

Click here to download the official press release


Executive Director of NeighborImpact to Retire After 25 Years of Service to Central Oregon

Redmond based NeighborImpact has announced that long-time Executive Director Sharon Miller will be leaving the organization in September of 2012. In announcing the departure Board President Karole Stockton said, “We are greatly appreciative for the exemplary leadership and dedication that Sharon has shown to our community.” As a nationwide search begins in March of 2012 for her successor, Miller leaves a legacy of high quality services delivered by a dedicated staff that serves more than 60,000 residents in Central Oregon last year alone. As one of the first employees of C.O.C.A.A.N. (Central Oregon Community Action Agency Network) now known as NeighborImpact, Miller currently oversees an agency with 175 employees and an annual operating budget of over $14.5 million. Miller directed the organization through many milestones including: Construction of the Bill Healy Family Center the region’s first transitional housing program for homeless families, A shared role in helping establish the Homeless Leadership Council, Doubling the number of children served by Head Start to 448, Securing funding for Oregon’s first Regional Housing and HUD Counseling Center and NeighborWorks America Chartering, and Spearheading NeighborImpact’s current multi-faceted approach to aiding families affected by the current foreclosure crisis. When asked about her longevity as Executive Director of NeighborImpact, Miller explained, “The Central Oregon community has always been extremely supportive of the work we do. In all of my different roles over the years, I always enjoyed serving our community and working with other organizations dedicated to solving the challenges that face us.” Miller also cited the remarkable dedication of NeighborImpact’s Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and donors that contributed to her successful career.

Click here to download the official press release


NeighborImpact Weatherization Program Supports Local Residents

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the NeighborImpact Weatherization Program provides money saving services to Central Oregon residents. Since the inception of the federal weatherization program in 1976, more than 6.7 million homes have been weatherized across the nation. The NeighborImpact Weatherization Program provides permanent solutions to reduce the energy burden on low-income families by installing cost-effective, energy-efficient materials and services. More than 140 homes have been weatherized by NeighborImpact in the past year alone, including that of Central Oregon Resident, Frances Barber who said, “The experience (with NeighborImpact) was wonderful. What was done to my home is a blessing as it is warmer in the winter. I am tickled that there is a service provided like this for the ones that cannot afford to do the things the weatherization program does.” As the cold weather approaches, most families across the country are turning up their thermostats to combat dropping temperatures. For low-income families, however, cranking up the heat is not always an option. These families pay 14% or more of their annual incomes for energy compared with only 3% for other non low-income families. Unable to pay big balances or hefty reconnection fees, some families are considering how they will survive this winter without heat. Barber had a roof leak, an inefficient refrigerator, and limited financial resources to address these issues in addition to her daily expenses. NeighborImpact’s weatherization program provided her with a new refrigerator and addressed the roof leak as part of a comprehensive improvement plan for her residence. Now Barber doesn’t worry about food spoiling or water damage in her home due to a leaky roof. In addition, she has had a total savings of $180.00 on her utility bill in the six months since her home was weatherized Each year, October is designated as National Energy Awareness Month and October 30 is recognized as Weatherization Day. The Department of Energy uses the onset of winter to promote energy conservation, renewable energy, and new technology use in the energy industry. With the high costs of fuel oil and natural gas, a successful conservation program like the NeighborImpact Weatherization Program makes a noticeable impact to local residents.

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NeighborImpact Supports Foreclosure Prevention with Counseling and Education

NeighborImpact’s Housing Center foreclosure prevention services offers assistance to Central Oregonians still struggling to pay their mortgage and keep their homes. With monthly foreclosure prevention classes and housing counselors on staff, NeighborImpact services can provide homeowners with the tools and support needed to negotiate a modification with their lender. “Our staff works with clients to assess their situation and help them make informed decisions about options they may wish to pursue,” notes Selef Spragg Housing Center Manager. “Our accredited counselors have the specific skills and knowledge to help people through this trying time.” NeighborImpact’s Housing Center offers a variety of free programs including foreclosure prevention classes and counseling, first-time homeownership classes and counseling, down payment assistance loans, reverse mortgage counseling, financial literacy classes and counseling, credit counseling, and a matched savings program (IDA). “We want to encourage Central Oregonians to attend our classes so we can address their needs,” continues Spragg. “If you are struggling to pay your mortgage or on the brink of foreclosure and researching your options, we have resources available to assist you in making informed decisions about your financial future.” The next foreclosure prevention class (held every third Monday of the month) will be taught in Bend on September 19th, 2011. Anyone interested in signing up for classes or counseling services should contact Karen Bushnell at 541-318-7506 ext. 109 or karenbu@neighborimpact.org. Please refer to the website www.homeownershipcenter.org for additional information.

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Low Income Households Realize Goals with Matched Savings Program

Matched savings programs are useful to many members within our communities. For every dollar invested into the program also known as an individual development account (IDA), three dollars are matched by the state. “The spirit of the matched savings program is to help people develop regular savings habits,” notes Selef Spragg, Housing Center Manager at NeighborImpact. “Saving on a regular basis is key in dealing with the unexpected expenses that arise whether you run a business, own a home, or are going to school.” Income restrictions do apply to the IDA program. For example, a four person household in Crook, Deschutes, or Jefferson County would have to earn $50,500 a year or less to qualify for the program. The funds, made possible by state tax credits, enable an individual to save an additional three dollars for every dollar they invest. “IDA funds may be used for purchasing a home, starting or expanding a small business or going to school and vocational training,” says Spragg. “The funds may also be used if your home is in need of rehabilitation to address health and safety issues.” Households must participate in the IDA program for a minimum of six months and earn 80% or less of the family median income in their county. Participants must also attend financial fitness classes and meet with a financial counselor. Anyone interested in applying for the program should contact Self Spraag at 541-318-7506 or selefs@neighborimpact.org Please refer to the website www.homeownershipcenter.org for income restrictions and additional information.

Click here to download the official press release


NeighborImpact Offers Central Oregon Homebuyers Tips To Prepare for Homeownership

“With interest rates near historic lows and home prices more affordable now than in the last decade, right now may be a great time to buy a home for working families who are ready for homeownership,” says Laura Fritz, Housing Director at NeighborImpact. But how do Central Oregon homebuyers know whether they are prepared to realize the American dream? “Homeownership – if it’s done right – opens the door for a better life for families, communities and future generations,” says Fritz. “NeighborImpact provides first-time homebuyer education and counseling to help households make smart, sustainable choices about homeownership.” To help potential buyers determine whether they are ready for homeownership this Homeownership Month, NeighborImpact offers the following tips on how homebuyers can prepare for homeownership the NeighborWorks way.

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Virtual Food drive a new, interactive way to support the NeighborImpact Emergency Food Bank

NeighborImpact has created a new, interactive way to support the Emergency Food Bank through its Virtual Food Drive program. Mainly a source of collecting funds, the Virtual Food Drive makes donating a little more interesting and meaningful and is easily accessed from any computer.

Click here to download the official press release

Click here to use the new Virtual Food Drive feature