EUGENE, Ore. — The 26th annual Great Rotary Duck Race is October 12. In 25 years, the event has raised more than $5 million for Lane County nonprofit organizations. This year’s 6 recipients are all helping prevent child abuse.
A builder starts with a foundation, adds framework, support, and windows; much like work done inside the Jasper Mountain SAFE Center.
“In general we provide hope to children and families that have really lost their sense of hope,” said Jeff Huston, Jasper Mountain Executive Director.
They take in abused children 3-13 years old, with extreme behaviors. They’re given a foundation, a safe environment they can trust, support, the framework for a new life and a window of opportunity.
“Our strength is really changing the child’s brain function, changing the child’s ability to see the world in a more helpful light, so they act differently,” Huston said.
Unfortunately, Jasper Mountain has outgrown its safe center and a critical building block, which is the classrooms.
“To get here, we went through the second through fourth grade classroom and you literally have to go through the middle of the classroom,” Huston said.
Distracting, especially for abuse victims who are hyper vigilant about who’s coming and going.
“So to have a door open, 15, 20, 30 times during their school day, to have someone walk through, and they have to assess is this person okay or to have to look to a staff member and say is this person okay, it can be pretty disruptive,” Huston said.
The new safe center will eliminate those distractions. It’s a $1 million project paid for with private donations, contractors that shaved estimates, donated lumber, grants and the duck race.
Janet Gielow, Jasper Mountain Assistant Executive Manager, says people don’t realize how buying a single duck is a big part of this project.
“Because funders outside of here, foundations first ask, is the community behind you in treating children, are you a growing concern do people really care enough to support you?” Gielow said.
When 70,000 ducks hit the water as they did last year, the answer is a resounding yes. Giving Jasper Mountain, Huston and Gielow another chance to change a life.
“If we did not need to exist, ya know, looking glass, all the agencies dealing with child abuse, I would love that. But we have to exist and I look at it as though every child has that chance and every child we help will parent differently,” Huston said.
Tickets for the great rotary duck race are on sale through Friday, October 4, at all Bi-Mart and Dari-Mart stores.