EUGENE, Ore. — If you could give one dollar and get four dollars value in return, would you?
You probably would, and that’s why it’s critical that local nonprofit Looking Glass get every dollar or duck that it can. The youth and family service provider is one of six nonprofits receiving funding from the upcoming Great Rotary Duck Race.
Looking Glass President and CEO Craig Opperman says cultural awareness is really important.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the heroes of mine,” said Craig Opperman, President and CEO of Looking Glass.
And that cultural awareness and the work of many others is what motivates Opperman.
Looking Glass is a service dedicated to helping troubled area teenagers.
“I love my job…It’s very exhausting. The hours are never-ending. When the phone rings, I never know if it’s something good or bad, but I love what I do. So being tired every once in a while for a very good cause is okay,” Opperman said.
At Looking Glass, the average person is 12-21 years old, has suffered a traumatic event or abuse, and is problematic, maybe acting out at teachers and friends.
Treatment can be as simple as an hour each week of outpatient counseling to 24/7 residential intensive treatment and everything in between. Statistics show what they’re doing is working.
“We know that what we do makes a difference. Kind of a thumbnail sketch would be 70-80 percent of our clients and customers have a positive transfer out of our services,” Opperman said.
From 2011 to 2012, 10,539 youth were served by Looking Glass programs. Eighty-six of those youth earned a GED or diploma while in a Looking Glass program. More than 8,500 calls from more than 2,200 youth were made to their crisis lines. More than 2,800 homeless and runaway youth accessed basic needs. Finally, 173 youth accessed emergency shelter an average of 74 times.
Opperman says the service they provide is crucial because it’s prevention.
“Sometimes they’re debating on sexual activity, becoming parents, so…you could argue that working with people before they decide to become parents is as preventative as you can get,” Opperman said.
He says while they may prevent that teen from producing more problems for themselves, he admits the need for their services will never go away. Just like it would be fantastic to not need hospitals, they will always be needed, and so will be help for kids, teens, and young adults.
“I guess my little soap box on that would be it makes more sense to fund programs like ours than it does to spend later on putting people in jail or having them in adult mental health institutions,” Opperman said.
That means more long days ahead for Opperman, like those before him.
“When we talked about getting tired, these people (like Martin Luther King, Jr.) worked tirelessly to improve the plight of people around them and to make all of us better through their efforts,” Opperman said.
Six agencies helping fight child abuse and neglect will receive money from the Great Rotary Duck Race. Local support gives these agencies a ton of leverage in applying for and receiving federal funds, so each duck you buy is critical to future funding. You can buy tickets through Sunday, Oct. 6 at all area Dari-Mart stores and also at the guest services booth next to JCPenney at Valley River Center in Eugene.