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A map of southern Oregon counties.

A look at the people and organizations coming together to do extraordinary things for their community during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This series is produced by Julie Akins in partnership with Southern Oregon PBS.

Damien Rennie, Southern Oregon Good Samaritan

Damien Rennie is a financial advisor who grew up in the Rogue Valley, he has a long history of volunteering help to the community he loves. The day after the Almeda Fire he jumped into action, hiking through Phoenix, helping people who couldn’t get back into town letting them know if their house was standing or not. In the days following he aided fire victims by raising over $12,000 and spending all that money on immediate necessities, and then delivering those items directly to the aid stations himself. He and his friends' quick response helped fill in the gaps while the larger relief agencies were still getting a foothold on the dire situation.

Ep. 18: Cat Rescue

Randi Brock has loved animals her entire life. When the Almeda Fire hit, she jumped into action as soon as possible and began to help reunite lost cats with their families. Sharon Anderson is a long-time Talent resident and community activist. When she lost her home, her beloved cat Bubba went missing. Randi was able to give Sharon a happy reunion.

Ep. 17: Rogue Food Unites

Rogue Food Unites is coordinating food businesses, farms, and cultural organizations to meet the acute demand for regional support with a community-driven meal preparation and delivery program. Meals prepared with ingredients from local farms by local restaurants are delivered to locations in Southern Oregon where residents displaced by fires receive the food they need. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.

Ep. 16: Dynamic Learners

Anjalie Trice is a veteran homeschool teacher, who in response to COVID and the uncertainty around the public school system, created this opportunity for six 5th-grade girls and their families to join a homeschooling pod. This has become a place where the girls can learn and grow in a safe environment.

Ep. 15: Klamath Independent Film Festival

The Klamath Independent Film Festival is the only Oregon-centric, all-genre film festival in the state. This September the festival will showcase the shorts and feature films of Oregon filmmakers and/or films shot in Oregon. COVID has forced them to rethink the festival, moving it all online, while also offering much-reduced in person theater screenings.

More info: http://klamathfilm.org

Ep. 14: Kid Time Museum of Medford

Kid Time is a nonprofit Children's Discovery Museum and Early Learning Center. Typically they see up to 100,000 visitors a year and 100 students in their preschool. Since March 12th, both the museum and early learning facility were closed due to the COVID crisis. Since that time, they have offered a distance learning program for regional families that included educational videos and free activity kits.

To ensure kids have the learning support they need during this time, Kid Time is operating as an emergency childcare provider during the 2020/21 school year. They are expanding their services for the duration of the COVID crisis to incorporate school age children and offering care options for children up to 6th grade. Their educators will work with students to assist with their online curriculum and supplement with enrichment activities. This is for working families who cannot leave their children home alone to attend distance learning programs on their own. Kid Time is adhering to very strict health and safety protocols under the guidance of Oregon Health Authority and utilizing the best practices possible, such as ample time outdoors. They are partnering with area school districts to reach as many families as possible that need this service, providing programs on-site at local schools, and collaborating with additional nonprofits including the Rogue Valley Family YMCA.

For children learning from home, the museum will still be offering Kid Time from Home, educational videos and activity kits that engage children and their parents, provide supplies and creative components that inspire imaginative play. The goal is to make sure children have the school readiness and developmental tools they need so as to not fall behind.

Childhood does not stop for a pandemic, and Kid Time is doing what they can to help the community. For more information, go to https://www.kid-time.org/.

Ep. 13: Barnstormers

At 69-years-old Barnstormers in Grants Pass, is the oldest community theater in Oregon. Like most theaters in America, they had to shut down production of their plays when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Recently they came up with an idea of how to re-open the theater to audiences by streaming their shows live on Youtube. They found it to be an exciting challenge, and are able to broadcast their plays to a whole new audience.

Produced by XRATS.

Ep. 12: Groceries for the Community

When the Shelter in Place order began, Chevonne and Darren Johst (owners of the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Medford, Oregon) immediately began on working on ways to keep the community fed.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 11: Recycled Donations

Learn more about the movement where people clean recyclable items in order to donate them to people who have no money and need to recycle to survive. Communities members clean bottles and cans worth a $.10 deposit each to donate to those in need. This is a grassroots effort, organized only by good will.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 10: The Labor Temple

The Labor Temple of Central Point is collecting food and preparing for a family food drive for its members out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. They could not do it without the help of their members and community partners and volunteers.

Produced by Julie Akins. Hosted by Trip White.

Ep. 9: Camp for the Homeless

A look at how Medford's new camp will help the vulnerable through the pandemic.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 8: Organic Alcohol Company

A look at how one Ashland company has changed operations to assist vulnerable communities.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 7: Painting with Josslyn

See how young artist Josslyn Anderson Barton is working to turn her painting talent into help for those in her community.

Visit Josslyn's GoFundMe page HERE.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 6: Hearts with a Mission

Hearts with a Mission, a home for at risk and unsheltered youth in Medford, OR, faced unexpected difficulties during COVID-19 Pandemic. Fortunately, the community came together to help the organization overcome problems of food shortage, isolation and more.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 5: The United Community Action Network (UCAN)

The United Community Action Network (UCAN) of Grants Pass is working to house those in need during the pandemic. See how one veteran is off the streets and in his own home in this installment of Southern Oregon Responds.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 4: Ashland on a Plate

The pandemic has shut down businesses around the Rogue Valley and caused the cancellation of the Britt and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A group of business people and philanthropists are attempting to create a unique culinary festival to overcome that challenge. It's called "Ashland on a Plate."

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 3: Family Assembly

Southern Oregon Solutions features the Hutchings family of Medford who have converted their home into an assembly line for hand stitching masks during the Coronavirus. The masks are free and constructed through donations of fabric and elastic to the family which cuts, irons, installs filters and stitches them together. In all they've made more than 1,100 masks for people who work in essential services and members of the public who want and need a mask.

The family of six each takes a role in hand sewing these masks as a labor of love and care for the community. "I felt nervous and uneasy when the virus hit," says Gwen Hutchings who came up with the idea, "but when I started doing something to help I felt much better."

The Hutchings family, creating solutions in the midst of the pandemic featured on Southern Oregon Responds with Southern Oregon Solutions.

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 2: Talent Maker City

Talent Maker City focuses on providing high end manufacturing equipment in a creative environment to tackle today's difficult problems. TMC harnesses the talent and knowledge of area engineers, fabricators, builders and designers to collaborate with students to build what the community needs. During the pandemic the group made manifolds and filters for ventilators, personal protection equipment for medical professionals and work on a daily basis to create what products that are needed on a 24 hour turn around.

Talent Maker City wishes to thank its many partners such as Asante and the Cow Creek Band for their generosity and support.

To learn more: https://www.talentmakercity.org

Produced by Julie Akins.

Ep. 1: Solidarity Gardens

On this episode of Southern Oregon Responds, we meet J'amie and Toni, a young couple who love each other and gardening together. As a result they met with a few other people throughout the Rogue Valley who have soil, plant starts and land to assist the process of "Solidarity Gardens." They assist back yard food growers and in exchange only ask that they share their crops with others in their area. They receive no pay and money never changes hands in this casual gift from one person to another. They have so far worked on 15 gardens scattered from Central Point through Ashland.

If you'd like more information on this grass roots association you may contact the reporter. julieanneakins@gmail.com


About the Producers

Julie Akins

Julie Akins

Julie Akins is a multi media journalist who has lived in the Rogue Valley for the past 11 years. Her background includes investigative reporting for television stations in Seattle, Tampa, Baltimore and San Francisco. She taught journalism at Southern Oregon University and Emerson College in Boston. Akins continues to contribute as a free lance writer for several publications including Yes! Magazine and Huffington Post and her work has been seen on CNN, NBC Universal and syndicated across the country. Akins has also directed newsrooms in Medford and written for the Medford Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings. She has been a host of Southern Oregon PBS broadcasts for the past five years and holds dear an interview with Ken Burns for his work on his Viet Nam doc-series.


XRATS

XRATS Productions is a full service video production company in Talent, Oregon. It was started nearly 20 years ago in Seattle, by husband and wife, Ross and Kristan Williams. XRATS produces narrative short films, documentaries, business videos, and commercials. For the past five years, they’ve partnered with SOPBS producing the Student Showcase.

To make a recommendation for a future feature, please email jlebeau@sopbs.org with the subject line "Southern Oregon Responds" or call 541-200-2053.