We know our neighbors' voices should drive policies and resources that influence the health of their community, which is why we're helping every person who walks through our door register to vote this year. Come by anytime to learn more!
In a rural location like the Methow Valley, it can be difficult for our aging and isolated neighbors to find the support they need to lead safe and full lives. Recognizing this challenge, the Lookout Coalition (LOC) joined Room One in 2012 to further bridge individuals and families with community resources that helped build pathways to wellbeing. Serving its clients through house calls, volunteers have included physicians, social workers, mindfulness specialists and hospice-trained community members.
Over the past 6 years, the Lookout Coalition has supported nearly 300 individuals and families with key medical and social service support and referrals to those who are aging, facing complex medical choices including end-of-life, or striving to remain independent in their own homes. This year, we transitioned the Lookout Coalition into our One Stop Support Center, with the aim of creating more sustainability for volunteers and deepened support for clients. The Lookout Coalition continues to be a model for how rural communities can come together to respond to dangerous gaps in medical services.
If the Lookout Coalition sounds like it could be an important support for someone you know, call us at Room One anytime to get connected.
When we launched our teen pregnancy prevention initiative, Okanogan Healthy Youth, we began by focusing on comprehensive sexual health education programs in schools, building youth-friendly practices in local health clinics, and supporting our most vulnerable youth in juvenile detention. But we knew that teen pregnancy would only be reduced if we addressed the other complex community problems that are connected to it, like poverty, racial disparities, and historical trauma. So, we started thinking bigger.
Recognizing that many of the “answers” to teen pregnancy could be found in the stories and lived experience of youth who call Okanogan County home, we turned to our Youth Leadership Council and partnered with five youth to create short films about their experience growing up in our county and the intersecting issues that lead to teen pregnancy. We learned that storytelling has the power to change lives by building connection, understanding and a shared purpose. Most importantly, their stories of struggle and resilience show all of us that our youth are strong and capable; they are the bright future of the Okanogan valley, and they deserve resources that make a difference.
Check out the videos. Share them widely. Join us in lifting up their voices!
Check out why our newest board members say they are part of Room One:
Andy McConkey: I am part of Room One because of the strong work given towards social equity and inclusiveness that Room One provides.
Lincoln Post: I am part of Room One because this organization puts into practice all of the qualities that make the Methow community so great. At every phase of life individually and as a family Room One provides an active caring approach to helping people to navigate through life's challenges. I am excited and grateful to be a part of this team.
Therese Grant: I am part of Room One because people who experience serious and debilitating problems deserve respect, practical help, and a compassionate community in order to overcome difficult life circumstances. At Room One people roll up their sleeves and provide these things with real expertise. I’m deeply honored to contribute to the work being done here.
Learn a little more about our newest staff members, Client Advocate, Lauren Hubbard, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Lead, Eve Russell:
Lauren, what drew you to work at Room One? I feel like my whole life led up to this job. I just love taking care of people. Being a foster parent has been some of the most gratifying work I’ve done and I get to use a lot of skills that I have compiled across my life in my work here. When your life comes together in that way, it’s so nice. I love this work. I love connecting with people and everyday problem solving alongside folks. I really love it.
Tell me about someone you admire: My best friend, she’s amazing. She is a lawyer with the Northwest Justice Project and she lives her truth every day. They adopted a teenager as well and I would not have survived without her. She has always been there, and she really tries. I think that's what I value most in people who are doing extra, they’re not just stopping at what’s easy or what’s acceptable.
Eve, what part of Room One's work keeps you coming to work? The sense that my work is making a positive impact in our present & our future community. I love to see the passionate spark for social change ignited in others, such as when I share about the scope of a health inequity issue, like teen pregnancy. People want to be part of creating solutions. We all want a thriving community.
What's your favorite self-care tactic? Walking alone across my land, noticing nature around me. Fresh air re-energizes my body, and clears the muddle from my mind. I can become more patient when I bear witness to the changing of the seasons, and trust in something greater than myself.
How do we reduce teen pregnancy in Okanogan county? We work to make sure teens have a clear path to the future they want for themselves: sexual health education, stable housing, living wages for families, and a place for the voices of powerful, smart youth like Veronica in the circles of decision makers. Veronica is part of Okanogan’s next generation of leadership, and we are behind her 100%.
Questions to deepen the discussion:
Veronica tells us that many of her peers have become pregnant as teens. We know comprehensive sexual health education reduces teen pregnancy rates and increase teens’ ability to make decisions that align with their values and the futures they want for themselves. However, too often in rural communities like ours, teens don’t have access to this important information. How can we as a community help to ensure our teens have access to the skills and resources they need to make decisions about their health and their future?
We know that decisions about youth are often made without their input. Yet, as we can see from Veronica’s story, our county’s youth are aware of the problems they face -- like teen pregnancy, youth homelessness or equitable access to education -- and their input is essential to developing solutions that actually work. How do we ensure youth voices like Veronica’s are centered when we’re talking about issues that affect them?
Loryn is an incredible leader generating change by bringing youth together. In the video, Loryn talks about leaning into the strength of community, choosing to focus on what matters most , and “believing in yourself, even when others don’t.” She’s a member of our Youth Leadership Council, and she’s doing inspiring work to build the type of connected, supportive community our Okanogan County youth deserve.
Questions to deepen the discussion:
- Loryn’s group cultivates strength, confidence, and resilience among young women. When faced with adversity, the group decided to stay focused on what mattered most to them. What are some other ways youth gain resilience and live out their values and how can our communities support them?
- Pregnant and parenting teens are at higher risk of experiencing violence in their relationship. Talking with youth about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like is critical to lowering teen pregnancy rates and ensuring that parenting youth can have the future they want for themselves. What factors influence whether or not our youth have healthy and loving relationships? What are some ways we can promote positive, loving relationships here, in Okanogan County?
Every one of our youth deserve the support and resources they need to thrive, yet many go without either. As Alexis tells us, when there are no alternative, too often our young people get caught up in the juvenile justice system. Her story shows us the importance of early interventions and alternatives to incarceration for our most vulnerable youth. With our incredible partners at Okanogan County Juvenile Detention, our youth leaders, and allies of youth across the county, we are working hard to create a change. Check out Alexis’s insightful story of strength, family, and recovery. It’s deeply worthy of our attention.
Questions to deepen the discussion:
- Alexis tells us that the first time she was incarcerated was for a truancy violation, but her next infractions were for much more serious violations related to addiction. Some innovative programs are working to catch and support youth following, or even before, a first violation. What kinds of supports would have been relevant for Alexis following her first truancy hearing? How could we build those kinds of resources in our county?
- Over the past two years, Room One has worked closely with Okanogan Juvenile Detention, running sexual health education classes and weekly Girls Groups within the center. Officials from Juvenile Detention have sat on steering committees and workgroups, including ones aimed at addressing teen pregnancy and youth homelessness - major issues for youth involved in juvenile justice. Over the past ten years, county officials have weighed closing our local juvenile detention center and sending incarcerated youth to a private center outside of Spokane. What would the ripple effect be of closing our center? How would youth be impacted by being transported to a center so far from home?
As a member of our Youth Leadership Council, Miah’s voice has called our community to invest in Okanogan youth. Her story of resilience and deep connection shows that our youth are strong and capable; they are the bright future of the Okanogan valley, and they deserve resources that make a difference. Check out Miah’s story, she is a leader on the rise...
Questions to deepen the discussion:
- Miah tells us that her grandmother, family, and community are critical parts of her identity and her strength. What resources can we provide to support Okanogan County youth who may not have a safe place to live or a family support network?
- The voices of youth like Miah deserve to be front and center as we develop resources to support our future generations. We know that youth are often excluded from decision making processes on issues that directly affect them. How do we get youth to the table and make sure they are recognized as the experts in the challenges youth face?
Access to reproductive health care is critical to lowering Okanogan County’s high rates of teen pregnancy. Unfortunately, as Anahi shows us, youth often face barriers to getting the resources they need. Over the last two years, Room One’s Youth Leadership Council has worked with local clinics to improve youth friendly practices across the county, so all teens can get the healthcare they need to plan for their future. We look to courageous voices like Anahi’s to help lead this important work!
Questions to deepen the discussion:
We know that many youth in Okanogan County choose to not seek reproductive health care because they fear a lack of confidentiality. What are the potential impacts for youth when their confidentiality is violated?
In Washington State, minors have a right to confidential reproductive healthcare. Setting up policies and practices to ensure youths’ rights can be challenging. What could local clinics do to better serve youth accessing reproductive healthcare?
Many youth have a hard time accessing reproductive healthcare, and the situation gets more difficult if misinformation, fear over immigration status, addiction or mental illness, or a lack of transportation prevents their parents from supporting them through the process What can we as a community do to best support all our youth in getting the care they need and making decisions that align with their hopes and values?
Five Okanogan County Youth are telling powerful stories about growing up in our county and the intersecting issues that lead Okanogan to have such a high rate of teen pregnancy. These teens are smart, strong, and destined to make change happen. Check it out!
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.