If the recent snowfall, political upheaval, and the steady approach of winter have you either wanting to hide under the bed or come out swinging, there’s an easy remedy to all this stress at least on a personal level. Medical and scientific studies have shown that acts of generosity and kindness unleash stress-reducing hormones that make us feel better and improve our health.
What marks the end of summer festivals, rodeo, and music extravaganzas, also ushers in a season of nonprofit fundraising. Here in Wallowa County, nonprofit organizations are the glue and sometimes the duct tape that keeps our community functioning and together. Oregon ranks 13th in the nation in number of nonprofits per capita. But out here on the edge of things, they are even more vital to community function. Wallowa County has the second-highest ratio of nonprofits per capita of all Oregon counties (see map)—about 13 nonprofits per 1000 residents, or a total of 98 nonprofits, of all stripes.
Our nonprofits perform vital community services. There are youth-based nonprofits, including FFA, 4-H, and FSCLA that provide guidance and activities. There are family and social educational nonprofits that include Building Healthy Families and Soroptimist, and those such as Safe Harbors that provide shelter and care. Land use and natural resources organizations like Wallowa Resources and the Wallowa Land Trust preserve our rural character and connect people with forests, grasslands, and the world beyond pavement. The Josephy Center, Fishtrap, the Music Alliance and others nurture the arts. There are faith-based nonprofits that do exceptional work with youth. Divide Camp that works with veterans. The list goes on.
Our nonprofits are at the heart of Wallowa County. While some utilize grants for partial support, most rely on volunteer sweat equity and donations to carry out their vital work. Many studies have found that nonprofits in rural communities usually get less funding proportional to their needs than nonprofits in more urban settings. Your support provides the glue that holds our community together. It provides activities and education for youths, help for the elderly and those in need, art that nourishes the county’s soul, and much, much more.
Now that Alpenfest is over, the coming week kicks off local year-end fundraising. The 4-H radio auction on October 12 is among the first fundraisers of the season. Like many fundraisers here, it’s fun, sometimes even exciting. The funds raised (last year about $12,000) support travel to 4-H competitions and events for students who have earned the right to take their project to State but can’t afford to go, and similar causes. You can bid on homemade pies and jams, artwork by incredible local artists, rodeo tickets, riding lessons, Randy’s BBQ sauce, bison steaks, earrings, tee shirts, tack, a new hairdo, a giraffe, vibrant sexy hairspray (from Serenity Salon – you’d have to ask them about it….) sugar cookies, lemon fudge, weed control, a go-kart ride, a paddle in a glass-bottomed kayak, or a chance to help Liza Jane McAlister feed hay to the 6 Ranch herd with a hay wagon and her team of Belgian draft horses. There are 389 items to bid on, each donated by a generous local person or local business. You’ll need a bid list and a bid number, which you can get starting Monday, Oct. 7 by calling 541-426-3144. You can see the actual items, and monitor their current bid prices at http://wc4h.eoni.com. And you’ll likely end up with something either lasting or delicious (even if it’s hay and the livestock think it’s tasty) and a priceless memory as well.
If you can’t participate in the 4-H radio auction, there will be plenty of other opportunities as the season of giving progresses. Just remember that generosity is one of the best remedies for depression and anger. Your goodwill keeps our community home fires burning. It will warm your heart as well.