Dawn CooperBy Grants Program Specialist Dawn Cooper

The grants team at the Roundhouse Foundation values the relationships we forge with grant partners and people in their communities. I recently hit the road in April to meet with nonprofit leaders in Southern Oregon where I visited some remarkable communities in Medford, Butte Falls, Central Point, Eagle Point, Talent, Cave Junction, Grants Pass and Ashland. While in Ashland, I joined the annual Oregon Nonprofits Leaders Conference (ONLC) hosted by Nonprofit Association of Oregon

It’s enlightening and encouraging when you have time with partners who are doing profound and impactful work within their communities. I am grateful for their time to share with me their challenges, successes and future plans.


The tour started on a Thursday afternoon in Medford. Executive Director Sunny Spicer of the Oregon Center for Creative Learning is a  true leader and visionary. Sunny has forged a path for early childhood education and child care in a very meaningful way. They serve young children and their families, filling a critical need for affordable preschool services in this region. OCFCL is a unique learning center that offers developmental opportunities to provide children with a foundation for future learning. 

I then joined Executive Director Jennifer Mylenek, of the CASA of Jackson & Josephine County & Heather Brown, Project Director of CASA of Josephine County. These incredible ladies and their team of dedicated CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Volunteers, are providing a voice for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Their work is often very difficult, and they are such a profound support system for at-risk youth.  They advocate on their behalf because all children should feel celebrated and loved. 

Butte Falls

The next day I headed out to Butte Falls to visit with Program Director Angela Ellis-Wells and Board President Diane Gorman of Butte Falls Community Partnership – The Landing.

This organization is home to multiple services for the Butte Falls community of 441. Their services include a food pantry, clothes closet, lending library, preschool, medical equipment lending, a lending library, emergency preparedness storage, a gym, Maslow’s Project closet that is filled with basic necessities for unaccompanied youth and a community garden in front of the building.

Overall, The Landing provides a wrap-around support system, which removes barriers to access basic needs. Angela and the staff at the Landing were such gracious hosts. As with many of our partners, I look forward to staying connected and celebrating the intentional work they are doing.

Later that afternoon I met with Executive Director Tammi Pitzen, with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County in Medford followed by a visit with Director, Tina Stafford with Josephine County Children’s Advocacy Center in Grants Pass.These Child Advocacy Centers are community-based, child-friendly, and trauma-informed organizations that coordinate a multidisciplinary response to child maltreatment and abuse allegations. They come together to reduce the trauma of abuse by providing coordinated support services for child abuse victims to begin the healing process. With the passage of Karly’s Law, a groundbreaking law in Oregon designed to enhance the protection of children who have experienced abuse, Child Advocacy Centers have been able to advocate, and support families through their traumatic experiences.

I am forever appreciative for the work being done in this space and am profoundly grateful that they are a safe space for children to find support.

Rounding out my time in Medford, I had the chance to sit down with Executive Director, Bill Ihle & Disbursement Assistant, Maria Moto with Consumer credit counseling in Southern Oregon. Bill and Maria were so open and excited to share with me all of the progress they are making in the community and really providing gentle care to those with damaged credit, which is one of the main barriers preventing folks from successfully obtaining a rental at an affordable price, or a vehicle that won’t bankrupt them. Understanding that financial health and security are a large part of the social determinant of health, this team is working hard to educate, provide professional counseling and empower financial stability.

Other Stops in Southern Oregon

The weekend included with many other stops (Central Point, Eagle Point, Talent, Cave Junction, Kerbyville),  before I attend the Oregon Nonprofits Leaders Conference (ONLC) on Monday, hosted by  Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO). ONLC spans a two-day opportunity to build and enhance relationships with over 300 nonprofit leaders across the state of Oregon. It also provides education, community and a chance to have meaningful one on one conversations with funders and fellow colleagues. I was honored to be part of the NAO conference and represent the Roundhouse Foundation and it was a wonderful capstone to my southern Oregon site visits.


Published On: May 28th, 2024 / Categories: Featured Grant Stories, Foundation Highlights, Grant News /