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Members of the Eastern Oregon Chapter of the COFA Alliance National Network this summer collaborated with Community Connection of Northeast Oregon to put together food boxes for people affected by COVID-19.

UNION COUNTY — The Center for Human Development assists people who have been tested for COVID-19 by coordinating services with community partners. These wraparound services encompass everything from getting groceries and food boxes to helping clients navigate through medical insurance and unemployment paperwork.

CHD’s Community Relations Coordinator, George Thompson, said the biggest benefit of connecting clients with available services is it keeps them from leaving the house during their 14-day quarantine to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“It is great to have this consolidated large group to get people through the right door,” Thompson said. “And if there wasn’t a door, we’d create one.”

Some of the organizations involved in this effort include Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Northeast Oregon Network and the COFA Alliance National Network. Some organizations overlap in services to help make sure everyone wanting assistance is able to get what they need.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are referred to the wraparound service coordinators who will call and ask if there is anything that person needs. Once a need has been identified the coordinator connects the person with the appropriate service after collecting general household information. The coordinator works directly with clients as they go through the process of acquiring services.

Thompson said the diverse range of service providers means the organizations can work together as problems arise.

“This is especially important with language or culturally specific needs,” he said.

Sandy Ryman, Wraparound Services coordinator at CHD, said the most common request is help with getting food, which can include delivery and finding money to afford groceries while a person is not working or working reduced hours. Community Connection also provides assistance with rent and utilities for those struggling to find work due to the pandemic.

Recent examples of the efficiencies of wraparound services include the COFA Alliance National Network this summer working with Community Connection to deliver masks and food boxes to historically marginalized community members in Eastern Oregon. And La Grande’s Northeast Oregon Network is facilitating contact tracing and helping with insurance and Oregon Health Plan needs. Many other organizations are assisting with the wraparound services, and Thompson said volunteers are always welcome where support is most needed.

“In the pandemic, it is like running a race and the rules are changing while you are running,” Kristin Orstrom, executive director at Oregon Rural Action said. “It is helpful to have everything in one central location.”

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