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Philomath
Thursday, January 27, 2022

Release: Backpacks for houseless include special notes

Local Fourth Graders Share Heartfelt Advice for Unhoused

News Release from Samaritan Health Services
Received Nov. 30, 2:46 p.m.
Press release notice

“Think of things like kittens, puppies and rainbows when you feel sad,” a Corvallis fourth grader at Bessie Coleman Elementary School shared in her letter to houseless.

Thirty heartfelt letters from community youth were inserted into backpacks this week by Samaritan’s Care Hub team along with items the houseless need for survival.

The Care Hub is a team of more than 15 nurses, social workers and community health workers that work together to provide outreach support and assessment to some of the area’s most complex patients.

“Part of that is homeless outreach,” said Anita Earl, Care Hub supervisor.

The team formed an assembly line and filled the backpacks, which are actually drawstring bags, slipping the notes in along with the much needed supplies during a packing session shortly before Thanksgiving.

“The bags were chosen to provide post discharge support, while at the same time not
actively contributing to roadside waste,” Earl said.

Care Hub workers inserted a note of encouragement in each of the 120 backpacks. The bags are filled with items including a water bottle, electrolyte powder, protein bars, a first-aid kit, a thermal blanket and personal hygiene items. A newly established Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation fund helped get the project off the ground with a $5,000 donation.

“The plan is for Care Hub team members to distribute the backpacks as part of our homeless outreach efforts,” said Earl. “They will supply the emergency departments, urgent cares and various clinics within the Samaritan system with a small supply to use as needed.”

The team also plans to visit patients in the community including in homes and parks.

“We will bring the bags to various sites that want or request them and can respond to
individual requests as well,” Earl said. “Many of the folks without homes are struggling with severe medical conditions and mental health concerns that make basic survival a struggle,” Earl said. “The cold weather coupled with the lack of affordable housing in our region has encouraged hopelessness. When you are leaving a medical environment and are ill or in pain, it would be very comforting to have basic supplies, but the note, that is the life-saving part.”

Each of the bags receive a note of encouragement, but 30 in the unhoused community will find the special notes from the fourth-grade students. Several of those notes will have kind and sage advice including, “I hope you will feel better” and “you are important.”

However, the one fourth grader that stood out included tips that we could all live by:

• Take care of yourself.
• Be excellent to each other.
• Don’t lose faith in yourself and others.
• Love yourself through and through.
• And of course, Think of things like kittens, puppies and rainbows when you feel sad.

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