Resource fair highlights caring community

March 14, 2012

Hood River may appear tiny in population, but its small size apparently does not translate into small thinking.

On March 8 more than 160 community members joined together with more than 40 organization representatives for a resource fair - designed to create a more effective safety net of help for the community.

If that isn't thinking big it would be hard to know what else might qualify.

"It's an important thing to know the resources of a community if you are helping people," said Kathy Smith, program specialist with the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families, which sponsored the half-day event.

Joella Dethman, HRCCCF director, emceed the day which was held in the youth center at Hood River Alliance Church. The 200-plus attendees were given a chance to meet each other and exchange information on available community resources and where to find them.

As a portion of the day geared to fill in information gaps, the crowd was treated to a live role-play of the new 2-1-1 phone resource and referral system now operational in the county.

Not everyone in the room was yet aware that the service is free and already up and running.

By dialing the help-line or visiting the 2-1-1 website, individuals and families can speak with a live operator who assesses the needs of the caller and provides referrals to local agencies and nonprofits who can help.

The phone service will soon be available statewide, but Hood River is one of the early subscribers and test areas.

"We had a goal to have local human services people learn about the 2-1-1 system, and to connect face-to-face with the diversity of services available in the county," Smith said.

"It was an amazing turnout," she added. "Normally you can expect 10-20 percent no-shows from your registrations. We have more people show up than registered. We had 100 percent attendance."

In fact, there were representatives from law enforcement, fire and emergency services, the school district, the hospital, medical clinics, child care providers, food and shelter organizations, doctors, dentists, counselors, the library and many others. It would be hard to find anyone in the helping professions who were not in attendance.

The event also gave the numerous nonprofit organizations a chance to add their name and help services to the 2-1-1 system operators if they were not yet on the database.

This year's resource fair was the first in the county since 2008.

"People really stepped up and got the information out," Smith said. "Alliance Church was an awesome partner by sharing their meeting space with us.

"Overall, it was an amazing turnout, which says a lot about Hood River."

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Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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