October 2, 2014; Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)

In Marion County, Oregon, a ten-year-old nonprofit dealing with issues of incarcerated people and their families has closed its office and transferred a grant under its control to another nonprofit. A visit to its dynamic-looking website shows content over a year old; its last tweet was in February.

The Salem-based program provided mentors for youth impacted by incarceration and worked with offenders reentering society. The board president, Don McPherson, has yet to discuss if resuscitation efforts will be undertaken.

Mid Valley Mentors reported $240,530 in revenue and $284,579 in expenses from July 2012 to June 2013, and its revenue was down by 76 percent year over year. Randy Franke, executive director of the United Way of the Mid Willamette Valley, which provides the grant that was transferred, said, “We appreciative the fact that they did contact us and work to make a smooth transition so the folks we’re trying to help successfully reenter society aren’t losing out.”

The intensive need for support services for incarcerated people and their families is always great, but in my experience it’s some of the hardest work for which to find a secure stream of funding. We wish this effort the best possible outcome in terms of a continuation of their important work.

Disclosure: Forty-plus years ago, I helped to found and run an advocacy and peer support organization made up of prisoners’ families. It was hard and necessary work then, as it is now.—Ruth McCambridge