Calling all passionate community members in Jackson, Josephine, and Coos: NeighborWorks Umpqua is looking for you! The rural nonprofit is happy to announce open enrollment for its Board of Directors. With over 25 years of service in Southern Oregon, we want you to help us take the organization to the next level. The perfect NeighborWorks Umpqua (NWU) Board candidate will be equity and diversity-focused, and excited about serving alongside an extremely varied group of individuals from all walks of life. From skilled lawyers to passionate community members, our board members come from all sorts of different professions, backgrounds, and neighborhoods, but all take great pride and fulfillment in serving. Read what a storied member of our Board, David Morrison, has to say about the history of the organization and what serving on the NWU Board of Directors means in his own words.
“I was lucky enough to help start the company and serve on its Board since day one. For me it’s been a great ride, a social activist’s dream come true. So what better time to share some of my memories and reflections about NWU, a nationally recognized leader and innovator not just within the rural community development network but also among the national support and backup groups. From Dream$avers to mobile home deconstruction and recycling and everything in between, NWU has become one of a handful of cutting-edge organizations in the nonprofit community development world.
NWU’s history is personal for me. Its roots are in a previous time when activism for political, social, and economic justice was more accepted and encouraged. I had the good luck to come of age politically and professionally in that era. When I moved to Roseburg 32 years ago to be a staff attorney in a recently opened Legal Aid office, I was actively expected as part of my job to work with community organizations. I studied community development in law school. The Legal Services program could never hope to meet the legal needs of its poor clients one-on-one. We had to be creative to find ways to maximize impact on behalf of our clients.
In those days Douglas County was still, legally speaking, the wild west. We sued the debt collectors, the used car dealers, the slumlords, the welfare department, and the hospitals all to good effect in protecting and advancing the rights of the most vulnerable among us. We joked that we were comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. But legal band-aids only went so far.
Suing landlords didn’t do anything to increase the stock of decent affordable housing. The courtroom was still important, but it was clear that to maximize our efforts and to leverage scarce resources we also had to step outside the courtroom and be community activists and community organizers.
We dreamt of doing more.
Just as we went beyond the limitations of the courtroom with community action, now we wanted to go beyond community action with community development. We wanted to build affordable housing. We wanted to do bottom-up economic development. And so through the efforts of many people and with the support of UCAN, Douglas County, and the then Umpqua Regional Council of governments, NeighborWorks Umpqua was born. And now here we are 27 years later at an important crossroad for the organization. This is why we need you to join us!
We are a non-profit corporation, working outside the prevailing economic model of a profit-driven enterprise. The economic earthquakes we’ve experienced has revealed the ugly truth about where an unfettered, unregulated profit/self-interest based system can lead us, we’re going to need to find some alternative business models that can produce something more sustainable, meaningful, and responsible. With your help and leadership, we can strengthen our community economically and teach the crucial difference between community-mindedness and self-interest.”
Interested in serving on a Board of Directors dedicated to providing innovative solutions in housing, finance, and community matters? Then sign-up with NeighborWorks Umpqua’s Board of Directors today. Fill out the form below and let’s work together to create a better Southern Oregon for all!