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|Archives - October 2009|
|Thursday, October 01, 2009|
No. 1 Best Small Nonprofit: Oregon Rehabilitation Association
STORY BY LUCY BURNINGHAM // PHOTOS BY ANTHONY PIDGEON
Every Monday morning, the 10-person staff of the Oregon Rehabilitation Association huddles around a conference table in a windowless room filled with a large brown fridge, ping-pong table and 7 Habits of Highly Successful People posters. For an hour and a half, they share schedules, review ongoing projects and talk about their weekends. And they laugh.
Tucked into a generic strip of offices off a heavily trafficked road in Salem, the nonprofit feels like the kind of place where every penny of the $1 million annual budget counts. But underneath that thrift runs a rich sense of cooperation and cheer. Because at the heart of it, these people like each other.
The ORA operates under the mission to support nonprofit organizations around the state that provide services to people with disabilities. That support translates to coordinating conferences and training sessions, lobbying the state Legislature, and providing technical assistance to a core group of 60 nonprofit “members.”
Members pay annual dues to receive services from the ORA, which results in two-thirds of the organization’s budget. The ORA’s support helps members provide jobs, housing and care for people with disabilities.
While the staff rallies around the mission — half of them have worked with people with disabilities in past jobs — the nature of the workplace has helped retain many of the employees for extraordinary lengths of time.
Six salaried employees have been with the organization for between 10 and 24 years. Each was hired when their position was created and has remained there ever since.
Marketing representative Bruce Gordon calls himself “the newbie,” as he approaches his 10-year anniversary in the office. Marketing director Stephen Mock was hired right out of college — 17 years ago. And executive director Tim Kral wrote the initial grant for his own position in 1985, which transformed the ORA from an all-volunteer group (founded in 1967) to today’s operation.
Admin assistant Brittney Standish left ORA after a year and a half for another job, but says she immediately felt “an empty spot.” Eventually, she decided to return and was rehired this past May.
“There’s never a conversation here that doesn’t involve helping someone,” Standish says. “It’s rewarding coming to work knowing people really do care and that it’s truly from the heart. Besides, everyone here feels like family.”
The notion of family resonates with everyone on staff; they’ve watched each other’s kids grow up and shared paid sick time during emergencies.
This summer, a few employees decided to go camping together with their families. Soon, everyone in the office wanted to go, so the ORA picked up the camp fee. “It’s not often you have all your co-workers say, ‘Let’s all go camping together for fun,’” Mock says.
Much of the fun factor originates in the office, where Kral recently handed out plastic teeth to staffers in order to surprise a visitor with their shocking grins. During quiet moments, he’s been known to lob a screaming monkey toy at employees, and makes sure meetings include time for impromptu humor.
The lighter side of the workplace can exist because of the staff’s work ethic and their genuine commitment to the mission, he says.
As a manager, Kral believes as much in attention to detail as the big picture. In his office, above the sea of organized paper chaos he calls his “horizontal filing system,” a map of Oregon stuck with pins for each member hangs close to a poster about black holes.
“I’m big into perspective,” he says.
Many ORA employees tap into the larger meaning of their work on the road, when they visit members located everywhere from Coos Bay to Klamath Falls (more conveniently, 70% of members are in the Willamette Valley).
“When I travel, I meet some of the people who derive the benefits of what we do,” says Bruce Gordon. “Those folks wouldn’t be able to work were it not for these programs.”
At the weekly Monday meeting, staffers will arrange to tag-team projects to make trips as efficient as possible.
The statewide programs will always need the ORA, says Kral, especially as they shift from the group-home approach to systems designed to support individuals who are living longer and becoming better educated and increasingly independent.
In other words, the ORA isn’t going anywhere. And based on the amount of laughter floating around the office, neither is the staff.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GINA BINOLE
Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Telemedicine, new partnerships and real estate diversification make health care more accessible in rural Oregon.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened a third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; a Bend outpost broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
The false promise of economic impact statements.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.
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Yesterday, a divided National Labor Relations Board dropped another hammer on the employer community. In a long-awaited and much debated move, the Board jettisoned the decades old standard for determining when two independent businesses should be considered joint employers of an individual worker for collective bargaining purposes.
Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce 16 finalists — from over 60 nominees — for the 2015 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.