LATEST SITUATIONAL REPORT
With the heat dome hammering the Willamette Valley, I can take some indoor air-conditioned time to catch everyone up on the progress at Camp Alma for the year. So, in no order of priority, here we go!
Camp Alma has been used twice, to date, for incident command headquarters. The small 7K fire in late May only required on site need for about 2 days and this was primarily for fire fighting equipment. The Haight fire in late July was much larger in scope. Somewhere between 100-140 fire-fighting personnel and associated equipment were on site for about a week – a much greater use of our facilities including camping/showers and administrative meeting space. Jack Gartley, our director of operations, worked for Oregon Dept. of Forestry for about 10 years and was imminently familiar with the logistics required. From all reports, VL/Camp Alma impressed ODF and we made some great friends as well as Jack seeing several of his old buddies. Thanks to our Vets and staff for rising to the occasion!
Continued refurbishment of the facilities always seems to be on the agenda. First steps in completing ADA update in the small dorms is done and finally we’ve identified a cement contractor to place the exit sidewalks on the west side of the big dorm. Final flooring installation will happen in the near future.
Exterior painting of the small dorms is being completed by Valley Christian Center from Albany as well as landscaping updates – many thanks for their efforts. The veteran group from the Oregon State Psychiatric hospital has completed the interior painting on the dorms during their 3 recent visits. This group is such a win-win for all involved and we’re appreciative of staff efforts to make this happen from Salem.
Paid for by a grant given by the Northwood Christian Church, complete replacement of the 1990’s era fluorescent lights in the administration building and some exterior spots is done. The difference with LED lights in place is dramatic and, of course, will be an economic bonus as well. Thanks to our friends at Northwood Christian Church!
The Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) that causes the diesel generator to kick in when electric power is lost has been malfunctioning. This is a major project to replace – the unit weighs 400 lbs – and some serious expertise to install. This has been completed. Thanks to Blue Star Gas for helping with the switch logistics and EC electric for the installation.
We have been gifted with a pickup truck and box truck (from a veteran estate) to help with various tasks. In addition, we purchased a low mileage minivan to add to our fleet for transportation.
The agricultural endeavors have purposefully been kept to a minimum for the short term because of the need to focus on several other primary needs but a small greenhouse and outdoor garden is shaping up nicely. If anybody is looking for ducks, we seem to have been abundantly blessed – 22 little folk at last count. Please contact Jack Gartley at 541-697-3308 if you’re interested. Due to some issues with procuring beehives, we’ll have to try again next year to get in synch!
We’ve had Resident Veterans cycling in and out of Camp Alma. Veteran’s Court continues to be a consistent working partner. Other referrals out of the area have occurred one as far away as Baker City. Camp Alma was part of the sequence to move an older Vietnam Vet out of rehab for about a 6 week stay and eventual placement in assisted living in Eugene. At present there is a consistent number of 4 RVs on campus with probably 10 that have been to Camp Alma thus far this year.
As we ramp up staffing, we hope to be able to provide more services to more Vets. Investigation of possible referral sources is ongoing. Recently, we have developed a relationship with Ideal Options – a group that provides medical assisted therapy for substance abuse disorder which fits in with our goals of coordinating ancillary services. I had the unique experience of addressing the Veterans Assoc. at the Oregon State Penitentiary – 89 veterans in this facility – to open a discussion to help identify AICs (adult in custody) that will be completing their sentence to offer Camp Alma as a transitional step when they are discharged. I also had the honor of addressing the Oregon Senate Committee on Veterans, chaired by Senator James Manning, regarding services Veterans Legacy/Camp Alma endeavor to provide.
Shelley Corteville, long time onsite coordinator, recently announced she would be moving to a horse ranch providing therapy to children using horses as a treatment modality. Her loyalty and caring for Veterans coming to Camp Alma has been incredible and thanks will never be enough for what she’s done. She will stay on as a part-time Peer Mentor/Board of Director Member for the short term. We are in the process of developing a job description/posting for 2 Peer Mentor positions giving us 24 hr coverage/7 days a week.
A transition of BOD membership has occurred. Thanks to Phil Marvin, Miki Mace, Chuck Buchholz, and Bob O’Brien for their service. New Board of Director members that have joined – Cindy Decker (Navy) taking on the treasure duties, Jeff Gowing (Army), and Stephen Clarke (Navy) are our new additions. Marty Wilde, former State Representative and recently retired career Air Force JAG officer has graciously taken over surveillance of the legal aspects of the BOD on an as needed basis. Thank you All!!
We have completed a total overhaul of the website. With this in place, a major fundraising campaign- Secure the Legacy – to solidify sustainable funding for the long haul will be a primary focus in the near term. Stay tuned!
Thank you, as always, for the ongoing support.
Dr. John LeBow
President, Board of Directors
Honestly, I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football as he’s trying to kick! Every year I promise myself to be more diligent about keeping the news feeds from Veterans Legacy/Camp Alma coming on a consistent basis and I wind up missing the football and flat on my back! Well, it’s update time again!
As 2022 began and some of the restrictive health constraints on congregate living circumstances loosened, we were able to very slowly start taking Resident Veterans back on campus again. As many of the referral sources to Camp Alma also had Covid related issues, the number of Veterans referred has been slowed substantially and only just now starting to pick up- certainly a complicated set of factors at various levels. This had the positive effect of allowing a review of our whole intake process to assess the best use of resources to obtain viable candidates for intervention. While we will continue to assess candidates from all sources, we’ve determined that the best avenue is to identify Veterans currently in intensive inpatient treatment scenarios and offer them “step down” services for a few months afterwards to further enhance the modalities being used to achieve success before reintegration into the community at large. Given the daunting rate of incarceration of Veterans, working with various levels of the justice system to apply this same strategy for those released back into the community is a major goal for us to pursue in 2023.
As many of you may know, our main wheel horse, Dan Buckwald, encountered medical problems in June. I’m very happy to say he’s doing well! However, that health event and also helping with family matters dictated that he step down from the Board of Directors. This didn’t stop him from leading the most successful Poker Ride (5th annual) that we’ve ever had! Thanks Dan, for all you’ve done for VL/CA and I look forward to the volunteer projects that you have planned in the future!
After many months of waiting, VL was finally the beneficiary of participating in the Behavioral Health Resource Network (BHRN) funding from Measure 110. This funding has been in the pipeline for a year and will allow substantial jumpstart in key hires and expanding services for our Veterans. The immediate outcome was hiring a Camp Supervisor for Camp Alma. Jack Gartley is our new Camp Supervisor and already is overseeing major projects that have been sorely needed but previously unaffordable, e.g. reroofing all buildings, cleaning up the garden areas, etc. Thanks Jack, for the energy and vision!
I would like to recognize Board member Shelley Corteville for completing the Peer Support Program at Willamette Family Services. This is a major credential in providing wrap around services for our Vets. Over the year, we’ve had several Board members transition off the Board. I’d be remiss in not thanking Dr. Pat Luedtke, Robert O’Brien, Valerie Love, Chuck Buchholz, and Phil Marvin for their loyalty and service to Veterans Legacy.
As this is written, we’re in the final phases of a complete website rebuild that I believe will be more informative and interactive for the Veterans Legacy community. Look for the new site by mid-March!
Lastly, we cannot go forward in our mission without financial support from the community. We were quite honored to be the beneficiaries of grant funding from Lane County Medical Society, Andersen Construction, Impact Club, Weyerhaeuser, Confederated Tribes of Siltez, Cowcreek Umpqua Indian Foundation (7 Feathers), Three Rivers Foundation, Northwood Christian Church, Springfield Elks Club, Legacy of Hope, Marine Corp League, American Legion Post #83, Wildish Sand & Gravel, Crosstown Movers, and so many of our individual donors too numerous to list. We are so thankful and honored by the trust and support the community has given us and strive to be worthy as we continue to evolve into the best service provider possible for our Veterans.
The Best of the Holidays to Each of You!
Dr. John LeBow
President, Board of Directors
As with many other endeavors in 2021, the Covid pandemic affected many aspects of Veterans Legacy/Camp Alma development and activities. That said, there was tremendous progress made in many areas with significant momentum that occurred within the past 5 months.
With the multiple challenges of dealing with Covid-19 in a congregate living situation, VL’s Board of Directors thought it prudent to stand down on moving Veterans to the campus over the initial 6 months. However, this allowed time for further refurbishment of the campus in preparation for intake. A short list of status shows that there are now 16 fully furnished cubicles in the main dorm ready to go. Thanks to a grant from Weyerhaeuser, both of the small dorms now have Daikin ductless HVAC systems in place and finish work can be done very rapidly when the census need dictates. Other campus improvements include major forest mitigation below the Camp along the Siuslaw river, completion of the greenhouses/hoop houses – 2 of each, and major repair of the wells (thanks to the Impact Club for funding for this). Unfortunately, our farmer left because of Covid issues in his family and agricultural output was severely diminished. A bright spot was further development of our bee hives under the close observation of Shelley Corteville who, by the way, was selected into a Veterans bee keeping program that only had 75 slots available nationally. Way to go girl!!! We did have our first honey draw off and I will personally vouch for the excellent quality! Hope for even more next year.
We’ve been blessed with many supportive grants this year including those from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Northwood Christian Church as major donors with many smaller donors too numerous to mention, but all immensely appreciated. This financial infusion has allowed planning for key hires as we develop our staff. We’re very proud to have Jason Dougherty join our staff as peer mentor/Veteran outreach coordinator. A former combat Marine, Jason brings a host of experience in helping Veterans connect with resources and especially assessing whether Camp Alma would be a viable aid in the recovery process. We are in the process of trying to sequence an Executive Director, Camp Supervisor, cook, and farmer – I’ll keep you posted!
A major collaborative effort was forged in September. Veterans Legacy and Housing Our Veterans have worked closely together over the years, but VL’s Board of Directors and Lorie Perkins CEO of HOV mutually agreed that a more formal relationship would benefit both organizations. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed aligning Veteran treatment goals in a more cohesive and efficient format. The ideal sequence would be for a homeless Veteran to begin the healing journey at Camp Alma with treatment there up to six months as needed. At that time, the Veteran would then transition to stable housing with HOV for up to a year. This will allow for finding employment, continued therapy, and ultimately finding permanent housing. Studies show that if 18 months of consistent treatment can be achieved, the success rate sky rockets for the long term. To our knowledge, this is the only program of its type in the region and possibly on a national scale. Lorie is a seasoned professional in Veteran care and it’s our blessing to have her to work with. We look forward to the evolution of the program!
Also in September, we were able to house a transgender female Veteran for the month while more permanent housing was arranged. In October, we began formal Veteran intake in conjunction with HOV. Three homeless Veterans were referred from St. Vincent de Paul over about 4 weeks. All immediately benefited from stable housing and therapy started as needed. A wonderful Thanksgiving was enjoyed by all at Camp Alma with BODs and their partners providing all the fixin’s. Since Thanksgiving, two of the Veterans have transitioned to HOV and are employed! We’re soooo proud of them.
November 20, 2021, saw a dream come to fruition for yours truly. We had a perfect day to celebrate the dedication of the draft horse team, Penny and Pearl, to the Equine Therapy program. You can see the video of the event on our website. It’s going to be wonderful to see how they evolve as part of the therapeutic program.
For 2022, planning for further administrative team additions is high on the agenda as well as increasing our intake numbers as quickly as is feasible. Further campus development, especially completion of the metal/wood shop addition to the current shop is on the front burner.
I think I can safely say that the Phoenix has risen from the ashes. VL, with the help of so many, has brought the dilapidated campus back to viability and our treatment program is now into gear in a major way! Now we get to proceed with our mission so that “truly, no one is left behind.”
Thank you for your continued support!!
John LeBow, D.O.
President, Board of Directors, Veterans Legacy
Well, to say the least, I’m embarrassed. It’s been since March since I last produced an update of status at Veterans Legacy/Camp Alma. So much for my New Year’s Resolution of quarterly reports! No doubt, 2020 has been unique and that will be my excuse!! The Covid pandemic has changed life in many ways but Camp Alma was blessed with location and easy social distancing with the end result that much was accomplished in the last few months. From the agricultural front, Brandon Huff kept us on track with very successful production of plant starts and hanging flower arrangements. A sale at American Legion Post 83 on May 23, 2020 netted about $2,400 which all considered a major success! However, due to a combination of events secondary to Covid-caused issues, Brandon had to quit at Camp Alma to take care of things at home. This has caused a major replanning of our agriculture strategies. At present, we’re in the process of completing a fourth hoop house, which will finish the greenhouse/hoop house footprint.
As you’ll recall, we had received a grant from Traveler’s insurance for a bee keeping project. We did receive 5 hives and purchased all the necessary equipment. Shelley Corteville, our on site Camp coordinator, has taken on the challenging learning curve, with help from Ken Ograin, master bee keeper, and wife Nancy who’ve generously contributed their knowledge. It looks like she has them set up to weather the winter, which is the biggest hurdle of the first year. Thanks Shelley( “Queen Bee”)!!! Hey, we now have a new tractor and brush mower as well!!! You can see some pics on the website. Contributions to help pay that off ( it cost $25K) would be much appreciated. It was a necessity we could not afford to put off any longer and has already proved to be invaluable.
Our friends at Chamber Construction continue to be a major blessing. During the summer, Mark Harrington and the apprentice crew were able to devote enough time to complete the Conex/Firehouse structure, complete roofing on the education building and laundry, finish all of the siding, install two windows in each of the smaller dorms while refurbishing the bathrooms in both, and lastly getting everything ready to pour the concrete slab for the tiny home production area. Their help has been a God send and we are indebted – plus Mark is a mighty fine master barbecue guru as well judging from the rave reviews at a recent volunteer event. I think back on the first time I stepped on the old Forest Inmate Camp campus and the structural disaster that it was. To see the full renovation that has occurred is awesome and humbling in myriad ways. Thanks to all!!!!
We had the 4 th annual Poker Run and raffle in August. 67 motorcycles were in the run with over 90 riders! It was great weather and a great success. Thanks to John Hampton for his leadership and logistic expertise!
I noted that we had our first Vet on campus in the last Sit-Rep. Since then, there have been 6 others that we’ve helped out, all of whom were homeless. At present, all have reintegrated to Veneta/Eugene. They helped out on the farming and refurbishments in trade for housing which also allowed Camp Alma staff to gain some experience as to defining some of the common needs in this population and better prepare for the future. Our goal now is to definitively outline and staff the initial therapy team before accepting further Resident Veterans. What would a Sit-Rep be without a plea for funds??? This year has been so chaotic with activity at the Camp and Covid impact that we’ve not done a good job in reminding you to “re-up” for an annual contribution to our Patriot Partners program. To be frank, the facility is ready but we can’t afford the staffing to make the whole scenario complete. We’ve found that grants are few and far between when it comes to paying salaries and so this need is almost entirely driven by donor funding. Plus, in this Covid era, granting sources are either dried up or significantly constrained as opposed to prior years.
A big reminder: Even if you take the standard deduction route for your income taxes, the CARES act allows up to a $300 deduction for contributions to nonprofits like Veterans Legacy.
TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN SO THAT, TRULY, NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND
Dr. John LeBow
President, Board of Directors
Happy New Year going into Spring! My New Year’s resolution was to make sure a Sit-Rep update occurred quarterly so here it goes!! I hope that all of our Veterans Legacy family had rewarding and enjoyable Holidays. The progress at Camp Alma through the Holidays and into the New Year continues to be phenomenal thanks to Executive Director Dan Buckwald’s leadership and efforts.
It’s hard to believe that January of this year marks five years since the wonderful folks at Food for Lane County pointed me toward the decommissioned Forest Inmate Camp that we now call Camp Alma. As is often said, “The rest is history.” Speaking of history, our website coordinator, Jonni Gratton, asked me to put together a story on the timeline of Veterans Legacy/Camp Alma. This is now included on our totally redesigned website, which is now live as you read our latest report. I think you’ll find this to be a major upgrade and will allow much more opportunity for communication as to the goings on at Camp Alma and Veterans Legacy. A few quick shout outs: Lane Electric Coop for again providing drone footage of the Camp; Lea Jones for his editing of the footage, voice over, and original music; Brent Balloch for web design, and Jonni Gratton for the interviews of important persons and groups that have added so much to the Camp Alma culture.
A huge thank you to Chambers Construction who provided a five-man apprentice construction crew under the guidance of Mark Harrington for almost two weeks in December. All of the rotted siding on the Big Dorm and select areas on other buildings was replaced, the drop ceiling in the refrigerator/freezer space in the kitchen completed, and various other punch list items were knocked out. This put our refurbishment agenda far ahead of anticipated status. To say the least, Dan has been a busy guy! He has managed to ramrod getting the kitchen done and I want to say, this is one classy finished product. I’m sure you’ve seen some pictures on Facebook, but you really need to see this in person. For those of us who saw the disaster that we took over compared to the current status, it’s beyond comprehension. Can’t wait to see lots of folks working together to produce food for the Camp and our community. The other refurbishments include the Big Dorm and Laundry room. All of the floors in the Big Dorm are completely painted, cubicles set up, and mattresses in place ready for our first Vets. The laundry room showers and main room have been completely tiled and new shower spaces are functional. The commercial clothes washer/dryers are now fully functional as well. The other structural change in process is that we’ve moved the Conex storage units that were next to the shop. One is by the garden for storage in that area. The other two have been moved to the southwest part of the parking area to eventually become part of the Camp Alma Fire House for our two fire trucks. Gotta get those babies a home! Keep following us to check on construction.
The blessings continue to flow: ReMax Foundation donated $10,000 in December. Mark Meyer, of Meyer Livestock, donated funding for a computerized weather station for Brandon Huff, our farm manager, to start tracking the weather at Camp Alma. Speaking of Brandon, due to his efforts we now have two more functional hoop houses and he’s got the spring starts going in the greenhouse! The Our Sewing Room ladies not only continue to provide quilts but have now designed shaving kits (and stocked them) for our Vets. Jeff Ware and his family have created a library in the Admin Building using the many books that have been donated. We have been working to establish organized referral sources to Camp Alma. Arrangements are being developed with the Lane County Jail to identify Veterans that are incarcerated who might benefit from intervention at Camp Alma when they are released. Working with Marc Douthit at Buckley House and Jonathan Smith at Willamette Family Treatment Center, Veterans with substance abuse issues that qualify for transfer to Camp Alma can access treatment as well.
Camp Alma is ready for action. To date, we’ve been able to complete the refurbishment with a remarkable combination of financial and in-kind donations coupled with extraordinary volunteer involvement. Going forward, as we provide room, board, clothing, and therapy for our Veterans, while maintaining the progress of the Camp Alma complex, there will be an absolute need for steady financial support to sustain the effort. I urge you to become a Veterans Legacy Patriot Partner on an annual basis and please talk to your family and friends about becoming sustaining Partners as well. Check out the program on the website! With that said, I’m thrilled to tell you we’ve taken in our first Vet! Finally, it’s happened!! His name is Joe Key (Army). He’s been homeless in the Veneta area for about the last seven years. We’ve gotten him bunked in and he’s got his Camp Alma dog tags and he’s very proud of them. Since he’s been there, Jane Hart has helped him get a copy of his birth certificate, Social Security card and signed up for the same with his first check coming next month. He’s also lined up for a dental screening and is on the Oregon Health Plan. Not bad for three weeks! It’s happening friends — let’s keep the momentum rolling.
TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN SO THAT, TRULY, NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND
Dr. John LeBow
President, Board of Directors