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United Way of Southwestern Oregon

Jen Shafer, the executive director of United Way of Southwestern Oregon, cuts a ribbon to officially mark the opening of its new office in downtown Coos Bay. 

COOS BAY — The United Way of Southwestern Oregon welcomed dozens of community members last week to its new location at 186 N. Eighth St., in Coos Bay.

In celebration of its new space, board members reflected on the organizations past accomplishments as well as shared their upcoming plans for the year.

New executive director Jen Shafer said she hopes to expand on the United Way’s mission to increase the organized capacity of folks throughout southwestern Oregon to care for one another and to become a more visible presence within the community.

“We want this space to be open for the community and to help out as much as we can,” Shafer said. “Our role is really to create collaborative partnerships with agencies we directly serve as well as other agencies in our community.”

The three bedrooms, one bathroom 1,050 square feet property, which was donated by Advanced Health, was converted earlier this month to house multiple conference rooms and individual offices.

At last week’s open house, Shafer thanked the numerous volunteers and member agencies involved in its various projects including its Annual Day of Caring and Coats and Shoes for Kids programs.

According to Shafer, last year the nonprofit was able to provide a new coat or pair of shoes to over 300 low income children and teenagers around Coos and Curry counties. It was also able to provide yard and maintenance services to more than 50 senior or disabled residents in Coos Bay and North Bend.

“We are looking for increased funders and volunteers for these programs,” Shafer said. “We are also going to try to really expand our presence in Curry County beyond the Coats and Shoes program and other things we have over there.”

Founded in 1961, the United Way organization has rooted itself into finding solutions for residents to combat a variety of local challenges within the area including education, health and financial issues.

Last year, UWSWO awarded over $60,000 to a number of its local member agencies toward programs and projects that support the overall wellbeing of the community. In addition to its grants and projects, UWSWO also completed its Coos and Curry County Comprehensive Housing Study last year, which outlined recommendations for the community on how to tackle its housing crisis.  

“I’m excited to work more closely with our member agencies and want to continue the success of the organization,” Shafer said. “It’s important to me that we keep our momentum going and work together to figure out how to make this area a better place for our citizens.”

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