SOS working to meet COVID challenges

The local outreach program is fundraising to meet area needs

July 25, 2020 — Siuslaw Outreach Services has been the first line of support for individuals in crisis in the Florence area since 1985. Originally named the Siuslaw Area Women’s Center, the organization has evolved over the intervening 40 years to become the premier support group for all those in crisis; women, men and children. 

In 2019, SOS served 3,002 individuals in need of immediate assistance which included 325 victims of domestic violence and 19 victims of sexual assault.

 The additional challenges presented by the COVID pandemic have only added to those needing help with rent, bills and food costs — and many of those in need come to SOS.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives. It brought some to a breaking point. During March, April and May, the number of requests for domestic violence victim assistance tripled from that same period the year before, said SOS Executive Director Bob Teter. “The number of requests for rent and utility assistance during the past month has nearly equaled the number of requests over the previous six months.”

Anticipating that need, SOS went to work raising funds.

“We were able to raise the funds to help 55 heads of households who had been laid off or furloughed get caught up with rents and utilities. As we look forward, the need is still there,” Teter said.

In recent weeks, SOS has been successful in securing additional grant funds, totaling more than $140,000 in direct aid for those affected by COVID. However, those grants are very specific and restrictive and only addresses rent and utility needs. The grants do not include operational support and much of that money has already been distributed to clients. 

Additionally, SOS has other programs in need of support to address issues like domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, prescription assistance, clothing, shower, laundry and transportation. Those needs remain and have been impacted by the overall reduction in funds earmarked for SOS.

Another effect of the pandemic has been the reduction of private and government revenues for needs unrelated to the COVID crisis.

“Half of SOS’s budget is supported by grants from Lane County and the State of Oregon and some of the local businesses that regularly support SOS have dramatically scaled back donations and understandably so,” said Teter. “Our goal is to raise $37,000 in community contributions by Sept. 30 in order to maintain our current level of service. That is the amount of projected loss of income due to Department of Justice budget cuts, decline in community giving last spring and the cancelation of a fundraising event all associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

For more information on how you can help support those in need of the many services provided by SOS, call Bob Teter at Siuslaw Outreach Services, located at 1576 West 12thStreet, or call 541-997-2816.


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