Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Herald and News: Walden helps Mission break ground on new facilities

August 22, 2016
In The News

The Klamath Falls Gospel Mission ceremonially broke ground on its new facilities on Friday, kicking up dust with a traxcavator with the help of U.S. Rep. Greg Walden behind the wheel.

An estimated 100 people gathered at the site of the future Klamath Falls Gospel Recovery Center, which will sit on about two acres of the 18-acre Klamath Works Human Services Campus. The mission will consist of a men’s emergency shelter and women’s emergency shelter, a commercial kitchen and a combination dining room and chapel. It will be just one component of the campus, which is already home to Sky Lakes Community Health and will offer a range of social services to help those in need.

Walden, who arrived at the site about 12:15 p.m., told the story of how he hand-carried the proposal by Klamath Works for the human services campus to Paul Ryan in 2015, before Ryan was elected Speaker of the House. Walden has been a proud supporter of the project along the way.

“I took it back to Paul Ryan because the speaker of the House has had a longtime commitment about helping communities find solutions to poverty,” Walden said.

“Over the course of the last now nine months, we have been working in the House on a whole plan to deal with various issues … One of the five categories is a better way to fight poverty, and you will find in this program, and you will find it at www.better.gov, are some of the very principles and proposals that originated right here in the basin.

“This is the beginning of both a sustainable solution, privately driven, to help people and provide them a service,” Walden added.

Bryan Irwin, executive director of Klamath Works, the nonprofit behind the campus, spoke excitedly about the potential impact of the campus on the local community and beyond.

“We envision this campus hopefully as a national model of how a community can come together and work together, collaborating to create it’s own solutions to poverty,” Irwin said.

Contributions by the numbers

Those behind the coordinating and fundraising efforts shared the story behind the mission’s capital construction campaign, which has collected $2.1 million for construction to date through the generosity of more than 600 contributors.

The campaign goal of $2.35 million has been extended to $2.5 million, to include additional expenses incurred by the mission. Grants are pending to help the mission fill the gap, according to Kent Berry, executive director of the mission.

The mission is expected to open in spring 2017, according to Don Boyd, of the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission Steering Committee.

“The goal has gone up slightly since we originally started,” Boyd said. “We’ve added solar panels to the project in hopes that we could raise enough money that these solar panels would help lower the monthly operating costs of the Gospel Mission. We’ve added some sprinkler systems, we’ve increased the size of one of the buildings.

“We still have approximately $350,000 to raise to complete this project,” he added. “We are confident that you all will continue to support the mission.”

Cup runneth over with mission donations

The mission has accepted donations ranging from $5 to $26,000 from individuals toward the mission capital campaign fund, according to Don Boyd, chairman of the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission Steering Committee.

There were 33 memorial gifts totaling $16,215 as well as 36 churches who contributed a total of $78,245. The mission board of directors, staff, and the steering committee contributed a total of $113,000. Twenty-three foundations, including The Wendt Family Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, The Oregon Community Foundation and the Murdoch Charitable Trust, contributed a total of $1,347,000 to the mission efforts. Boyd also thanked Sky Lakes Medical Center, which bought the 18 acres for the campus in 2014, and plans to grant the mission deed to approximately two acres of land to the mission for construction.

“We could not have imagined the generosity of folks in our community,” Berry said, “even after the hard and extended economic times. People who knew how to bring leverage and resources, we could not have been able to do this without each of you. Together we’re apart of the Klamath Works Campus.

“We’re creating a place, a refuge where the poor, homeless, down-trodden can have a greater opportunity to rise, to work, and to become more self-sufficient.”

To learn how to help the mission, contact the office at 541-882-4895.