Thursdays from 4:30 to 6PM join others in a peer-led, drop-in weekly support group for people who want to incorporate mindfulness skills to aid them in recovering from any addiction. The 1.5 hour meeting includes meditation, reading from a variety of material addressing addiction, discussion and sharing.
In 2017, five hundred neighbors walked in the door of Room One and hundreds more called to connect with our One Stop Support Center. This wraparound resource delivers direct services and powerful advocacy to reduce poverty and violence, and connects all of our neighbors to resources that make a difference in their times of need -- from supporting young families seeking connection and stability, to seniors navigating the complex reality of aging in a rural community.
The job of a Client Advocate within the One Stop Center is to take time to understand a neighbor’s story, offer support and center their strengths, and work to connect each person with resources that build stability, safety, connection and self-determination. Some people call for a single referral, but many more are struggling with multiple, complex issues - because we don’t live single issue lives. We assist folks in diverse ways: support for housing, mental healthcare, health insurance, safety planning, food benefits, utilities and financial assistance, and legal services and more. Our Lookout Coalition volunteers provide a vital extra layer of support in people’s homes or out in the community for neighbors facing complex medical decisions. One of our partners, Karie Elsassar recently wrote:
“Room One has been and continues to be instrumental in helping applicants become tenants in the USDA apartments I manage in the Valley. They have also been beyond helpful with our senior tenants in getting them the assistance they need and also with some referrals I've had for domestic violence... I am not sure what I would do without Room One, they play an integral role in the Methow Valley and beyond. THANK YOU!!!”
We are so excited to tell you about a new, innovative project to reduce teen pregnancy: the Youth Storytelling Project! Our Youth Leadership Council members are helping us tell the story of teen pregnancy in Okanogan County and the day-to-day struggles faced by those most at risk. Youth in our county know that teen pregnancy is tied to poverty, race, homelessness, immigration status, a lack of access to services, and other intersecting barriers. This project is designed to make visible the struggles and solutions our youth have named as critical to upending the startling statistic that one in twenty young girls in Okanogan County will become a parent before reaching adulthood.
As many of you know, federal funding for evidenced Teen Pregnancy Prevention is coming to an early end under the current administration. Despite the cut in federal funding, Room One is committed to ensuring youth across Okanogan County have the knowledge, skill and resources they need to plan for their futures. Our ambitious goal remains the same: to help our communities understand the complex causes of teen pregnancy in our county, and build real, lasting solutions.
In 2012, Raleigh Bowden brought her bold vision and leadership to Room One to grow the work of the Lookout Coalition. As the founder and director of the Coalition, Raleigh provided direct support for our neighbors struggling with complex medical decisions; built a powerful team of retired medical providers, social workers and mental health counselors to work in collaboration with Room One staff; and tirelessly advocated across the Methow and beyond for systems to work better for our neighbors in their most vulnerable times.
This Spring, Raleigh will transition out of her role as director and help lead the transition of the Lookout Coalition into a more fully integrated program of Room One’s One Stop Support Center. Lookout volunteers will work more closely with Room One Client Advocates, providing a critical extra layer of support to those navigating complex medical decisions.
Raleigh’s work led many to receive the healthcare they needed, supported the strength and resilience of families facing medical crises, and helped our neighbors better prepare for aging and end-of-life. The Lookout Coalition has received praise from across the state and Raleigh has lent her knowledge and skill to building a more efficient, effective healthcare system across Washington. She is a fierce, loving and tireless advocate for our neighbors.
We are excited to invest in the long-term stability of the work of the Lookout Coalition and, though we will miss Raleigh at the helm of the program, we are thrilled she will continue to be part of the Lookout team at Room One. Thank you, Raleigh, for all you’ve given our community and Room One. We love you!
1) What drew you to Room One originally and what continues to motivate you in your work as the Office Manager?
I initially visited Room One seeking services during a difficult transition in my life. The warmth and genuine care that I was greeted with provided me with a lasting sense of relief and comfort. I was encouraged to be in a position to join such a dynamic and conscientious team and help provide a similar sense of recognition and care to members of this community that I have come to love.
2) What has been your biggest project or accomplishment these past several months at Room One? Time to brag about your hard work!
I have worked alongside Elana to create Room One's annual budget, a time intensive delve into the financial structure of the organization and individual programs. This important task proved quite powerful in strengthening my understanding of how Room One operates and allocates its services, and affirmed my appreciation and excitement about being a part of this work.
3) Any fun plans for you and your family this upcoming Spring/Summer?
My kiddos and I plan to take a trip to the East Coast this summer to visit friends and family. We're already making our bucket list of must-do adventures, including favorite hikes, whitewater rafting, firework celebrations, and horseback trail riding. I am looking forward to connecting with the land and faces of my youth, and sharing these experiences with my kids.
1.) Do you own any pets, and if so, tell us about them and what they have taught you.
We have a tabby cat named Shirley. We adopted her from a shelter in Republic. Shirley has taught me that when I pass by the bed, I must make sure to guard my feet from her attacks. It's been almost two years, and I still can't remember to watch my feet. Every. Single. Time.
2.) What is most alive for you (or what are you most passionate about) regarding the work that Room One is doing?
I am so proud of the good work going on at Room One, it is truly an honor to serve our community. I believe so deeply in our core mission of getting upstream of poverty and helping our neighbors realize their full potential of safety, agency, and happiness. I am most passionate about reducing the teen birth rate in Okanogan county. As a community, I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure our teenagers receive honest and scientifically correct information about their bodies and how it functions. Understanding our bodies is paramount to making healthy decisions that set the stage for a healthy and productive future.
3.) Who are three people in your life that have had a positive influence on you, and would you share how this influence has helped guide your life pursuits or values?
I am so lucky to have worked with two fine people who had such a positive influence in my life.
The first was Evan who taught me the value of leading with confidence and determination. I learned how to work creatively around obstacles to find solutions to mutual benefit. He was tough on me, but I'm glad for it.
The second was Sam who taught me about slowing down, being patient, and taking the time to listen to people's stories. To really listen. He believed deeply in giving back to community through service. He taught me you don't need to be some rockstar to make a difference and that each of us have gifts to share.
Not another person, but something I keep in my back pocket: The story of the child who finds thousands of starfish washed ashore after a storm. She runs back and forth tossing them back in knowing they can't get back to the water on their own and will be stranded and die. A man comes along and asks her "Why do you do it? I'm afraid you won't be able to make much of a difference." Picking up another starfish and tossing it back into the water she replies "well, it made a difference for that one".
Our community knows how to show up for each other. This winter, two incredible events supported the work of Room One: A benefit concert by Michael Brady and the annual Ski for Women.
A warm and grateful thank you to the incredible women who made possible this year’s Ski for Women. Once again, the day brought together a courageous bunch of colorfully dressed supporters, all out to ski for a cause they believe in. A big thank you to the organizers and all who showed up. Our hearts are filled by the the lively costumes (go Bat Babes!) and community spirit.
A night listening to Michael Brady share his gift on the piano is simply a joy. For the second year in a row Michael has offered all proceeds from his musical representations to Room One, ensuring his gifts live on beyond the night. We are so grateful to Michael and his audiences.
Room One is for and from this beautiful place we call home. Thank you to each and every one of you who know that community is found in supporting our neighbors when they need it most.
This winter, the Methow Valley News wrote two articles on the growing need for affordable housing and centered the voices of a few people who are impacted most. Have a look, stay connected:
We often say that Room One is like a family. We care for each other relentlessly, we find a way to laugh through our mistakes, we know and honor each other's stories. Cathy and Cate are family here.
Cathy is finishing a six year board term and has been a guiding star in the booming constellation of Room One. In all conversations, but especially the hard ones, she shows up as a constant learner, a steadfast advocate for our neighbors and staff, and a meticulous, inspiringly smart thought partner. She is a pillar of Room One, and a friend we adore. To say the least, we will miss her - but she will always be in the Room One family.
Cate wove Room One’s values into the complex world of fundraising. We have all witnessed her sharp sense for strategy and her knack for making people feel at home, like they are seen and important. Cate brought her heart and her brilliance to this work, and we are all made better, more connected, more whole, because of it. Cate and her family are relocating to Eugene, Oregon, we wish them all the best.
We will miss you Cathy and Cate. From all of us, thank you for being part of Room One and this Methow Valley community we call home.
Welcome to our Board, Natalie! What inspires you most about the Room One mission?
I am continuously inspired by the work Room One does to support people and families of all walks of life in the Methow Valley and beyond. It is a true example of the community coming together and finding ways to support each other in a valley and county where the lack of social services can otherwise be overwhelming.
What brought you to the Room One community?
I'm a lawyer in Winthrop with a practice that focuses on water rights and land use law, business transactions, and estate planning services. I volunteered as an attorney for Room one before being elected to the board, so I have a professional connection as well as a personal connection to the organization. I am especially interested in continuing to grow Room One's legal services program and our outreach on issues surrounding youth detention in Okanogan County.
You were born abroad; how did you find your way to the Methow Valley?
I grew up in Germany, went to college at Wellesley and law school Harvard, and then worked in Manhattan for over a decade, first for a wall street law firm and then for the U.S. Attorney's Office. I always knew I wanted to leave the east coast, though, and see what the west has to offer. I ended up in Winthrop by sheer luck of the draw: I received a job offer for a six-month position here, and like for so many others the rest is history... I wake up every day thanking my lucky stars to have landed in the Methow.
In the spirit of the holidays, Room One is organizing a book drive for Juvenile Detention. We know that youth who are incarcerated at Juvenile Detention spend a lot of time alone in their cells reading and a new collection of books in their library would make a big difference in their daily life . If you have a book (only soft cover please) that made an impact on you when you were a teen, please drop it by Room One.
This fall, Room One welcomed two incredible new staff members to our team!
Erin Flahive, a former Room One staff member and recent graduate in the Master of Social Work program at Eastern Washington University, has re-joined our staff as a Client Advocate. Erin will be working directly with our neighbors on their path to health and well-being in our One-Stop Support Center, and helping to build programs that build equity in our community.
Sarah Washam has joined Room One in a new role, Family Advocate. The Family Advocate will provide in depth, wrap around support for families with young children. As part of her new position, Sarah will partner with families and staff at Little Star South Collaborative to support families in accessing the childcare and other critical resources. Sarah is Methow Valley native, holds a M.A. in Counseling from Western Seminary and has worked with youth and their families across the northwest.
Please help us in welcoming Erin and Sarah to the Room One community!
In a rural location like the Methow Valley, it can be difficult, and at times feel impossible, for aging and isolated community members to find the support they need to lead safe, full lives. The Lookout Coalition, now in its 6th year as a Room One program, centers their supportive resources individuals and families facing complex medical or end of life issues.
In 2017, the Lookout Coalition has assisted 92 individuals in our community, 56% more clients served than in 2015. While the challenges our neighbors face are wide ranging, feedback from our community is consistent t: Lookout volunteer providers make a difference in the lives of the families they work with. When asked what they valued the most from their LOC provider, clients shared:
“Someone to talk to who has been through the hospice program who could tell us what to expect and who to go to for questions & referrals. Loved how responsive they were on the phone when I felt alone and afraid.”
“Assistance and non-judgmental compassion and expertise, kindness and remaining effective when I was falling apart.”
“The Lookout Coalition helped clarify who to talk to and gave some general guidance on what to expect when taking care of a dying loved one. They helped reduce the extreme stress of the situation.”
In addition to direct services, LOC staff is at the table of several community conversations that bring and build health resources for our community. The LOC played an instrumental role in developing the Methow Valley’s suicide intervention team and is a key participant within a regional health care provider network to integrate and develop safety net services for crisis or acute care needs. As need continues to grow across our community and we see changes to health care provision for vulnerable community members, Room One and the Lookout Coalition are critically examining the next phase of the program while staying responsive to what we know is a critical need: compassionate support for our most vulnerable neighbors.
It’s been a busy fall for our Okanogan Healthy Youth staff, to say the least! This year we’ve partnered with five county school districts: Methow Valley, Pateros, Paschal Sherman Indian School, Bridgeport and Brewster to build comprehensive sexual health education programs provento reduce teen pregnancy. In September, staff held a full day training for classroom teachers implementing the curriculum and have spent the fall traveling around the county to teach in classrooms and support teachers and administration create sustainable, responsive programs. Here’s just a few of the many reflections we’ve heard from students:
"Sex ed taught me good choices that I can make in life."
“"My teacher showed us ways to say ‘no’ to things we don't want."
"I learned to that it's important to have knowledge of contraception when you have sex."
This year marks the fourth year Room One has provided Certified Navigators for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to the Methow Valley community, helping hundreds of our neighbors access quality, affordable health insurance. This year, many of those signing up for health insurance will see significant changes in coverage and price. Only two insurers remain on Washington’s Health Insurance Exchange in Okanogan County, and, for many, rates will increase 20-40% or more, with much less coverage. Insurance companies are citing uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act under the current administration, decreased federal payments to insurers and increased costs as contributing to the rate increases.
Still, many of our neighbors are eligible for significant subsidies through the Exchange to offset the cost of insurance, and some, including many children, are eligible for no or very low cost insurance through the state Medicaid program, Apple Health. This year the open enrollment period is shorter, and folks need to sign up by December 15 to have insurance by January 1st, or January 15th for insurance starting February 1st. Call Room One for an appointment or go to www.wahealthplanfinder.org to sign up.
Our Youth Leadership Council are using their voice, and we are listening. Teens said loud and clear, confidentiality is a serious barrier to accessing reproductive health care in Okanogan County and national reports are reinforcing their message: “one in five 15-17 year-olds would not seek sexual and reproductive health care because of concerns their parents may find out.” In Okanogan County, with limited health care options serving small communities and no dedicated family planning clinic, teens face an uphill battle to confidentiality. While many teens have told us about getting great reproductive health services at local clinics, some teens have reported reminder phone calls going to their family’s voicemail, providers turning youth away unless they have a parent present, and front desk staff who don’t know about confidential billing options.
And we are responding. In partnership with local clinics and our Youth Leadership Council, Room One created a Know Your Rights card designed to help youth access reproductive health care. The fold out cards have information on a youth’s right to confidential health care, free and low-cost billing options, tips for talking to a provider, choosing the right form of birth control and more. Paired with increased training for clinic staff, the Know Your Rights card will help youth be bold advocates for their own health -- all a part of reducing Okanogan County’s high rate of teen pregnancy. Look for the cards at your local clinic, share them with teens you know!
This fall, our community has reason to celebrate! The opening of the Little Star South Collaborative (LSSC) childcare marks a significant step towards eliminating a critical barrier to health and well-being for many of our neighbors: access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
For years, our neighbors have shared with Room One their struggles to find childcare. A recent assessment showed up to 60% of local families with children 5 and under do not have the childcare they need. Not only does quality early childhood education support parents' ability to join the workforce and reduce stress, it has the power to change a child's life. Children with high quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and own a home, and are less likely to become pregnant as teens or commit crimes. For our most vulnerable families and children, early childhood education matters.
Recognizing the need and unique potential to build lifelong health and opportunity alongside families, Room One partnered with Little Star and TwispWorks to launch the LSSC. The childcare will become a new site of Little Star, Room One will provide wrap-around family support services and partner with Little Star to provide parenting support and education. TwispWorks serves as a "place-maker," creating a welcoming home for families and connection to community.
We are so excited about this collaboration based not around a single non-profit's mission, but on an outcome identified and lifted up by our community: that all children, all families in the Methow Valley are able to access the resources they need to thrive.
We are two years into a five year grant for teen pregnancy prevention in Okanogan County and our progress is powerful and exciting. Last year we partnered with three Okanogan County school districts including Pateros, Paschal Sherman and Methow Valley as well as Juvenile Detention to teach and integrate comprehensive sexual health education that is shown to reduce teen pregnancies.
One of our partners, Barb Quintasket, Science Teacher at Paschal Sherman Indian School, recently wrote us:
"The partnership with Room One has been built on total trust and it has been very beneficial for our school. In my classroom it was beneficial in two different ways; the first result I saw from this program was the students gaining access to the information that they need to make healthy choices. The other result from this program has been an outcome that I didn’t anticipate. Because of the trust that was built during the program, I can bring up anything and the kids can bring up anything now. There has been a door of communication that has opened because of these classes. Now students feel safe coming to me with questions or support and nothing feels awkward to talk about. I see this as one of the most beneficial things that has happened in our school in a long time.”
Programs like ours have fueled a rapid decline in teen pregnancy rates, yet Tom Price, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has unilaterally ended the entire $210 million dollar program effective July 2018. Room One is doing our part to ensure our elected officials know what this funding means for rural communities like Okanogan, where 1 in 20 girls becomes a mother while in her teens. Click here to take action and advocate for this critical community-centered program.
Room One will continue to work with our partners across the county to prioritize strategies that will further reduce teen pregnancies. We are exploring funding streams and partnerships to help us maintain and sustain this vital movement. We are committed to ensuring all Okanogan youth have the knowledge and resources they need to prevent pregnancy, maintain reproductive health and be in control of their own future.
In 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a call to action, stating that our legal system is failing to "deliver on the promise embedded in our nation's creed that liberty and justice be made available 'to all.'" Today, 76% of low income Washingtonians facing civil legal challenges do not get the help they need.
Unmet legal needs are on the rise among the most vulnerable in our community: those living in poverty, with a disability, the aging, survivors of domestic abuse, teens and the undocumented. Common needs include disillusions, landlord/tenant problems, guardianship, disability claims or school discipline. Without meaningful legal assistance, our neighbors often risk homelessness, miss or lose work, and children do not have safe and consistent parenting plans.
To address this critical gap, we have joined forces with a network of local lawyers here in the Methow. Our new volunteer attorney services program will help coordinate and organize attorneys to provide pro-bono or low cost legal services and build our staff's capacity to support our neighbors with basic legal assistance and case management. With the investment of our local attorneys, staff and larger community, this new program will connect our neighbors with a basic right: justice in our legal system.
Are you an attorney or know one who may be interested in joining us?Please call us at Room One to learn more: (509) 997-2050.
Two of our most beloved and inspiring visionaries of Room One, Lori Valentine and Sarah Brown, are embarking on new journeys. After five years as a Client Advocate, Lori is heading back to school to pursue a degree in nursing. Her humor, compassion and dedication to our neighbors in times when they needed her most will always be held with admiration and the deepest of gratitude.
Sarah Brown has served as our fearless board president for the past three years and is heading to Hungary on a Fulbright Scholarship. Thank you for giving your heart, bold vision and steady leadership to Room One, Sarah. We miss you already.