Imagine being too young to provide for yourself, but your family is struggling to provide for you. It's not because they aren't trying, but because they have encountered some obstacles in our ever-changing community of Central Oregon. Imagine winter break is approaching and a Family Access Network advocate prepares a backpack full of non-perishable food and hygiene products — just so you can make it through the school break. For many youngsters in Central Oregon, these conditions are a reality, and luckily, FAN is there to provide support.
- K.M. Collins
- Three of the four members of the FAN dream team: Julie Lyche (Director), Robyn Harmon (Program Assistant), and Laura Hitt (Grant Writer).
FAN helps all kinds of children and families in the high desert. They are able to accomplish this by having a low-key, approachable presence in 24 of the 55 schools in Deschutes and Crook Counties. Advocates double as school administrators (teachers, counselors, etc.), making it easier to be available to vulnerable children in the school systems.
Relationships with scores of local partner nonprofits and advocacy organizations help FAN accomplish its mission (to serve children and families who are not able to get basic necessities, in order for children to stay in school to thrive and flourish). Neighbor Impact, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Oregon Health Plan and A Smile for Kids are just a few organizations to which FAN regularly reaches out on behalf of the children in their network.
Launched in 1993, the organization became a foundation in 2006 when Julie N. Lyche came on as director. The FAN Foundation board of directors is charged with governing the foundation, cultivating relationships, developing resources and implementing initiatives to increase the sustainability of FAN.
Since its inception, FAN has facilitated assistance for over 150,000 kids and their families, including 9,006 kids just last year. Food, clothing, snacks, electricity bill payments, job search help and placement are just a few of the needs FAN helps families address.
Of the families and kids served last year, 97% of survey respondents reported that FAN improved their lives. Ninety-eight % of families indicated the quality of service provided by their FAN advocate was "great."
- K.M. Collins
To give an idea of the volume of families in need of basics, in 2018, 5,375 families were helped with clothing needs, 3,011 with school supplies, 3,239 with food, 2,107 with heating assistance, 1,324 with health services, 1,729 with housing, 843 with positive youth development and 210 with job placements.
To fund such a unique and expansive community service, FAN reports 55% of their resources come from federal funding, 21% from local individuals and businesses, 9% from foundations and grants, 9% from school district contributions and 6% from planned monthly giving. FAN quantifies expenses as 84% programming, 15% administration and 1% fundraising.
FAN grant writer, Laura Hitt, says she thinks the organization is so successful because, "We are in schools. We aren't intimidating, it's very casual. Our services are streamlined, we are easy to access, and we make kids and families feel safe. Because of these things, it's easy for us to have ongoing relationships with clients."
Remember the child who didn't have enough food at home to make it through winter break? Luckily, there is a safety net in the schools. FAN is there to help, with our community's backing.
FAN wants you to know, "Whether you make a financial contribution, volunteer your time or help with a FAN project, you will make a difference in the life of a local child."
Call 541.693.5675 or check out familyaccessnetwork.org to learn more.
Want to do more? Here are some opportunities:
Become a featured donor or corporate sponsor
• Sign up for the FAN newsletter
• Tour a school with a FAN advocate
• Attend the annual FAN luncheon and donate to the school supply drive this fall
• Attend Bend Summer Festival downtown, of which FAN is the beneficiary
• Stuff backpacks