Community services

$100,000 donation will help Catholic Community Services secure more housing for families

The Salem nonprofit is putting a recent donation from Ashley HomeStores to work with direct assistance to families impacted by the pandemic, inflation and a tight housing and rental market.

Jag Daswatta, regional manager of Ashley HomeStores in Oregon, left, poses with a donation check to Catholic Community Services with board members and CEO Josh Graves, second from right. (Courtesy/Catholic Community Services)

Each year, Catholic Community Services workers help thousands of Salem families get help with housing, health care and other basic needs.

Josh Graves, CEO of the nonprofit, has often said that a relatively small amount of money can make a huge difference to a family. When they are able to pay a deposit on rent or pay an outstanding bill to improve a family’s credit rating, it “can have an incredible impact on their access to safe, affordable and stable housing.”

The organization will now be able to help more families with these expenses thanks to a recent $100,000 donation from Ashley HomeStores, a Wisconsin-based furniture company with more than 1,000 stores in the United States, including a in southeast Salem.

The donation was one of many made by the company following a change in ownership at its Salem store, said Jag Daswatta, Ashley’s regional manager for Oregon.

The store was once privately owned, but Ashley acquired it in November 2021.

“Whenever we go to a community, we want to be part of the community,” Daswatta said.

The company’s president helped select several family and student-focused organizations in Salem to each receive donations of $100,000.

They also selected Family Building Blocks, which runs a relief nursery and offers parenting classes and support to local families, and child abuse prevention organization Liberty House.

The Salem-Keizer School District Vocational Technical Training Center will be the final recipient of a $100,000 donation, though Daswatta and district spokeswoman Emily Hicks said details are still being worked out. elaboration. The center offers 10 hands-on, career-focused programs for high school juniors and seniors.

Once donated, this donation can be used to fund workforce development programs, industrial equipment, scholarships and alumni outreach, Hicks said.

Daswatta said the company will continue to seek Salem organizations to support and often provides furniture and labor to help with nonprofit projects.

Recently, this included donating and assembling bunk beds and mattresses for a non-profit organization Eugene that helps children who are homeless.

“I physically went there and we built these 50 bunk beds,” Daswatta said.

Graves said the funds are especially needed now for the families that Catholic Community Services works with.

“The pandemic and the housing crisis and now inflation is just having a hard impact on families, and often there are gaps that are not being funded by traditional health care systems and support systems and systems mental health,” he said.

The donation was unlimited, meaning the nonprofit can use it as it sees fit. Graves said they plan to pay it all out to families, primarily through the neighborhood-based Fostering Hope initiative, which targets Salem’s poorest neighborhoods.

Some could also be distributed to families at St. Joseph’s Shelter in Mt. Angel, Graves said.

“All of this will serve to fill the gaps for families with children,” he said.

Contact journalist Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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