Nonprofit organization celebrates two years in new space after opening amid Almeda Fire, then navigating pandemic
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
About 50 to 60 people gathered Sept. 1 at the Ashland Community Health Foundation office to celebrate the second anniversary of the foundation’s headquarters, which opened Sept. 1, 2020, just prior to the Almeda Fire on Sept. 8.
The foundation, which hosted a ribbon-cutting and meet and greet gathering at its new location, is also celebrating a new name. The foundation’s board of directors voted in 2021 to move from Ashland Community Hospital Foundation to Ashland Community Health Foundation. Executive Director Janet Troy, who is in her 13th year with the foundation, said in an interview with Ashland.news that the foundation has broadened its mission to include health and wellness initiatives.
The foundation is also celebrating its 20th year offering the Evans Nursing Scholarship. This year, the foundation passed the million-dollar milepost in total nursing scholarships awarded to more than 250 Rogue Valley nursing students since 2002.
The “hyper-local” foundation provides grants to health- or wellness-related organizations in Ashland, Talent and Phoenix, supporting nursing students in training enrolled at Rogue Community College and Oregon Health & Sciences University’s Ashland campus at Southern Oregon University, especially for those planning to work in the Rogue Valley after graduation. The goal is to fill a gap in the need for nurses nationwide — and especially in southern Oregon.
“I think it’s in all of our interests to make sure there’s enough nurses,” Troy said.
In previous years, the foundation was focused on generating support for the hospital and for Evans Nursing Scholarship. The priority is still to generate support for scholarships, but also to support broader community health and well-being projects, Troy said.
“This year, we awarded grants to seven organizations that are providing some kind of health or wellness service in the community,” Troy said.
The foundation is partnering with the community to help identify barriers individuals may have in accessing healthcare, including transportation, finances, or language, according to the website. The goal for the foundation is to help fill gaps for community health initiatives that promote hospital services, basic healthcare, food security, adequate shelter and access to education.
For many years, the foundation has supported the school nurse program in Ashland and Phoenix-Talent school districts.
While not the primary mission of the foundation, Troy said the foundation also has indirectly supported survivors of the Almeda Fire.
“Those nurses worked very closely with the families of those that lost homes,” Troy said.
The foundation has also awarded a grant to Talent Maker City, a nonprofit organization in Talent that promotes hands-on creativity and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)-based learning for youth.
Troy said many students who take part in Talent Maker City’s furniture-building program are fire survivors themselves.
“They learned to build beds and then the beds were donated to people who needed it,” Troy said.
The foundation will celebrate its nursing scholarship recipients at an upcoming luncheon in mid-September.
The foundation was founded in 1977 and has awarded $10 million in total grants to date.
To learn more about the foundation, go online at achfoundation.org or call the foundation at 541-482-0367.
Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at firstname.lastname@example.org.