By Erin Skaar, Executive Director, CARE, Inc.
Assess and adjust, asses and adjust, assess and adjust. This is our new mantra at CARE as we work harder than ever to serve all of those in need during this pandemic. When COVID hit and Tillamook County’s unemployment rate went from ~3% to 20% virtually overnight, CARE geared up and increased our capacity to help. So many of you in the community have joined us as we work to support those who are struggling financially due to the pandemic, that it seemed like past time to share an update on how things are going at CARE.
COVID not only increased the number of people in need in Tillamook County, but it also forced us to drastically change how we provide services to meet the necessary safety precautions. Like many other service providers, in March CARE closed our office doors for in-person services. Since then, we have adapted our operations to serve as many clients over the phone or by video call as possible.
Despite closing our doors to in-person services, CARE has never been busier. As of August 31, we have distributed more than $350,000 in rent and utility assistance from the CARES Act and private donors. We will continue distributing these funds as long as they are available and they are needed. Rent and utility support services can easily be handled over the phone, and funds are still available.
While many of the people we serve can call or email us, there are also people who simply don’t have the ability to that. For these people, we provide services outside our office, in the open air of their parking lot. With the weather due to change and the pandemic unlikely to abate any time in the near future, the CARE Board of Directors has made the decision to renovate a portion of the CARE office building to make indoor service spaces safe for our staff and clients.
CARE has engaged with an architect and has put the project out to bid. The first phase of the project will focus on redesigning the CARE lobby to produce three meeting rooms that can be easily cleaned between clients and have windows that open to receive fresh air. This will allow for CARE case managers to resume in-person meetings with our clients. The remodel will also provide safe private spaces for our staff to do their work.
Construction will take some time, so we continue to assess and adjust so that we can do our critical work of helping those who are struggling financially. While the details are still being worked out, we will keep our services going throughout our remodel.
Once more, if you or someone you know have been financially impacted by COVID-19, CARE is here to help and funds are available. Call the CARE office at 503-842-5261.
If you would like to help CARE during these challenging times, please visit our website at www.careinc.org/donate.