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Cow Creek grants aid Jackson County groups

Medford Gospel Mission’s dining room for homeless and low-income people is shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the meantime, its food preparation area is getting equipment upgrades thanks to a grant.

The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation gave Medford Gospel Mission $5,000 for the project, part of $85,800 the foundation recently donated to nine organizations in Jackson County.

Before COVID-19, Medford Gospel Mission ran a full-service dine-in restaurant called The Main Ingredient. The restaurant served free dinners to 150-200 people each night, using food donated by grocery stores, produce stands and restaurants, plus gifts from individuals. The organization estimates about half of its customers were homeless, and about half were low-income individuals and families.

The $5,000 grant will pay for a heating cabinet, ice maker and cabinets for the food production area. About 125 community volunteers help in the restaurant in a typical week. The equipment will help them prepare drinks, desserts and bread baskets and serve them to the restaurant’s guests, according to Medford Gospel Mission.

Although the dining room is temporarily closed, Medford Gospel Mission continues to feed men and women at its shelter. It delivers about 70 hot meals to the Urban Campground homeless services site in Medford, and also has a grab-and-go window that serves up to 100 meals each evening.

The Upper Rogue Community Center is another local group thanking the tribal foundation after receiving a $10,000 grant.

The center offers emergency aid and other programs to help people in the upper Rogue River area, which includes Shady Cove, Trail, rural Eagle Point, Butte Falls and Prospect.

The area is facing COVID-19 impacts, and the South Obenchain fire destroyed dozens of homes in September 2020. A wide swath of residents had to evacuate due to fire danger.

“The circumstances that the Upper Rogue Community Center overcame this past year were unprecedented, which were compounded by both the COVID shutdown and the Obenchain fires,” said Bob Bellah, chairman of the center’s board of directors. “With a 100% volunteer staff, it is nothing short of a miracle that our doors are open and we can provide much-needed emergency assistance to people who need our help. We are grateful for the support and good will of the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation that has enabled us to serve the Upper Rogue Community during these very challenging times.”

The foundation also gave $15,000 to ACCESS, Inc.; $8,300 to A Greater Applegate; $12,000 to Community Works; $3,000 to Miracle Theatre Group; $15,000 to Parker House Project, Inc.; $10,000 to Rogue Valley Mentoring and $7,500 to Sanctuary One.

Founded in 1997, the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation is a private, independent foundation representing the tribe.

The Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians in southwest Oregon once hunted, gathered and traded in a vast area of the Umpqua River watershed and surrounding land. They lived in homes made of wood planks, used native plants for food and medicine, hunted abundant wildlife and trapped salmon using woven baskets, according to tribal history.

Starting in the 1850s, the United States government sold off their ancestral land to pioneer settlers, gold miners polluted salmon runs with hydraulic mining and many tribal members died in pandemics.

They resisted efforts to be removed to reservations with deplorable conditions in Northern Oregon where many Native Americans from Southern Oregon were forcibly relocated.

Many Cow Creek tribal members continue to live and work in Southern Oregon.

The tribe operates the Seven Feathers Casino Resort and the Cow Creek Health and Wellness Center in Canyonville. The tribe is buying back some of its land and operating various business enterprises for the economic development of the tribe and communities where members live, according to the tribe.

Its businesses include ranching, farming, self-storage, coffee roasting and graphic design.

In addition to donating $85,800 to organizations in Jackson County, the tribe’s foundation donated $385,300 to organizations in Douglas, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Coos and Deschutes counties.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRichard Gallagher hands a meal to John Grimes on Tuesday at the Medford Gospel Mission.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Development director D’Anne Lenford shows where a new coffee stand is being built at the Medford Gospel Mission Tuesday.