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Behind-the-scenes volunteer raises money for needy

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune St. Vincent de Paul volunteer Rich Hansen has helped raise millions of dollars to help those in need.
Rich Hansen receives Jackson County volunteer award

From showers for homeless people to aid for 2020 wildfire survivors, a behind-the-scenes volunteer has raised millions of dollars for services to help those in need in Jackson County.

This month, Jackson County commissioners presented the county’s Community Service Award for November to Rich Hansen, a volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul of Medford.

Without funding, many programs would not be possible, said Commissioner Colleen Roberts.

“Thank you so much for all you do. The services are so vital to our community and to those in need,” Roberts said to Hansen during an award presentation that was held online because of the pandemic.

Hansen has spent nearly two decades raising money for St. Vincent de Paul, including $3 million he and others raised to build the charity’s thrift store and remodel its office and shelter, according to other volunteers with the organization.

Hansen, who is retired from a career in public and community relations, said raising money for St. Vincent de Paul is a chance for him to use his skills.

“Giving back to an all-volunteer organization like St. Vincent’s is quite a privilege,” Hansen said in an interview after the award presentation. “Everyone is a volunteer. There are no salaries. St. Vincent’s has an excellent reputation, and it’s relatively easy to ask for financial help for St. Vincent’s.”

People who’ve received aid to pay their rent or afford their prescription medication, or homeless people who’ve taken a shower and laundered their clothes probably don’t know Hansen, but he’s helped get the money to pay for those services and countless others.

He helped establish the Medford Severe Weather Shelter and provided hands-on work plus fundraising to help launch the Urban Campground in Medford. Run by the organization Rogue Retreat, the Urban Campground provides space plus services for people living in tents.

Hansen also worked at Rogue Retreat’s Hope Village, which provides tiny houses for people leaving the streets, other St. Vincent’s volunteers said.

He’s raised money for the Medford Parks and Recreation Foundation, and was chairman of the Medford Parks and Recreation Commission. Hansen further honed his skills by serving on the Shell Oil Foundation Board, where he was on the other side of the grant-writing table — learning what it takes to be successful when asking for money.

“We are blessed to be part of a community that is a better place to live because of some of what Rich has done over the years,” said Len Hebert, a fellow St. Vincent de Paul volunteer.

St. Vincent volunteer Dennis Mihocko said Hansen is a wealth of information and has a genuinely kind heart.

Hansen encouraged other people to volunteer for the organization.

“Because we’re all volunteers, there’s quite a team feeling amongst us,” he said. “It’s a rewarding group to work with. I thank the county commissioners for this award. There are lots of deserving people out there. I was humbled to receive this award.”

For information on services offered by St. Vincent de Paul in Medford, volunteering or donating, see stvincentdepaulmedford.info.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.