Our business is built around revitalizing communities, and we care deeply about leaving a positive impact. We wanted to come up with a program to give back to our communities in a way that resonates with our employees. Thus, The Giving Gorilla was born. Each month Gorilla Capital will make a monetary donation to 1-2 charities, organizations, or programs nominated by our employees. We will donate up to $5,000 this calendar year to employee chosen programs. We left the definition of “community” up to the individual employees to interpret for themselves, as they may consider their community to be the world, the nation, the state, or their local neighborhood.
I would like to nominate Eugene’s WOW Hall for the Giving Gorilla donation program. The WOW hall is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is owned by the Community Center for the Performing Arts. This venue is used for workshops, classes, recording sessions, displaying local artists, and more. Most people in Eugene know it as a permanent fixture and part of our community, and they rely a lot on donations and volunteers. Kids attend the WOW Hall regularly for cultural enrichment and fun, some examples being a week-long music camp in the summer, or West African Dance classes held every week for all ages.
Ever since I moved to Eugene I have been attending music concerts at the WOW Hall, and I was an intern for the WOW Hall when achieving my Accounting Degree. It’s always one of the first places I check when I feel like a night out, and working with the team during my internship and other volunteer opportunities was a true delight. The working members of the WOW Hall are there simply because they love the performing arts. It would be a gesture of community support and historical preservation for Gorilla Capital to make a donation to the WOW Hall.
MDA Summer Camp provides thousands of kids with muscular dystrophy and related muscle-debilitating diseases “the best week of the year.” At MDA Summer Camp, kids are living beyond limits in a place where anything is possible. It’s a week where they’re free to enjoy adventures like horseback riding, swimming and fishing, develop lifelong friendships, and build self-confidence and independence.
Oregon’s week-long summer camp Camp Arrah Wanna in Welches, Oregon, is offered at no charge to families thanks to our supporters who fund the camps. It gives kids with limited muscle strength and mobility a life-changing experience in an environment without barriers.
Lowe’s has been sponsoring the MDA through Shamrock Sales for many years, as has Gorilla via the Mike Bellotti MDA Event. I personally have met one of the kids that was able to go to camp and I was inspired by his positive attitude and sense of humor. He thanked us for helping him go to camp last year. I can’t adequately express how inspirational he was. With Lowe’s being one of, if not our largest vendor, I am happy to make a contribution towards their efforts to send another child to camp.
For a second year in a row, I’d like to nominate the special education program at Guy Lee Elementary to receive a monetary donation from Gorilla Capital. The donation would specifically be used to buy technology for the classroom that is used to assist in teaching students with special learning needs. Most Guy Lee students come from low income homes and student’s exposure to technology is limited. This donation will help students access technology in the classroom and benefit from exposure to high tech learning devices. With last years donation my husband, Dan, was able to provide two new tablets for his students with special learning needs. Students used the tablets on a regular basis for a variety of academic purposes, including reading, writing, math and test preparation. Thank you Gorilla for doing your part in making sure these students are prepared for a bright and successful future!
For the 2017 Giving Gorilla program, I would like to nominate “Providing Opportunity for Self Improvement” which is a charity founded by Eugene resident Ron Zauner to aid the residents of Barrio Blanco, Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Providing Opportunity has built more than 40 homes for Barrio residents, funds a medical clinic and a local school for young children, and provides scholarships for 23 older children to attend private school in a nearby town (as public education is substandard). All donated funds are used for building, clinic and school expenses. There is no paid staff and Ron pays all his own travel expenses when he goes to the Barrio to supervise projects. I feel Providing Opportunity is a good fit for Gorilla as we understand how improving the quality of housing in a neighborhood benefits the entire neighborhood.
I would like to nominate the SOS Shelter at Orenco Station for the Giving Gorilla Program. SOS is a well-known warming station within the county I live in (Washington County, Oregon). It provides warm meals and beds to individuals in need during the coldest months of the year. I’ve seen, up close, the effects that hunger and homelessness can have on individuals and families alike, so I hold this issue close to my heart. Most of us have friends or family to turn to in times of need, but that’s not the case for everyone. Sometimes people are left without anyone to lean on. So without proper resources or guidance, a short string of unfortunate events can easily turn into a lifetime of struggle for these individuals, which can leave them feeling helpless and trapped – sometimes even pushing them to other extremes. A simple meal, a warm bed, or a genuine welcome from a stranger can be just the kick a person needs to get ahead and feel the drive to get back up on their feet again. This is why it means so much to me to assist in the efforts to end hunger and homelessness, starting in my own community.
I nominate the School Garden Project of Lane County, (SGP) a local nonprofit that provides in-school garden learning programs to students. This organization is important to me as someone who was lucky enough to have a school garden and grow up with a vegetable garden in my backyard. I remember the excitement of eating fruits and veggies we grew and how good they tasted. I would love for children these days to have a similar experience. In many low-income areas, or underserved communities, children are faced with food insecurity and growing rates of childhood obesity. Participants learn food production skills, science, and improve their eating habits. SGP partners with local educators and through their curriculum, students learn hands-on to build new gardens and sustain existing ones. They provide schools and organizations with the necessary supplies and training all while making learning about science and gardening fun. Students learn the importance of growing their own food and at the end of each year they cook a meal using the ingredients they grew. SGP served over 1,200 students last year and each year must turn down education requests due to lack of funding or volunteers.
I’m nominating this charity because it hits home for me, and given we’re all pretty much dog people here hopefully it will for you too. I come from a family full of active military and have seen how hard the transition can be, coming home from war and back into civilian life. The name of the charity is DOGS4VETS.ORG, run through the American Service Animal Society. They help disabled veterans train their own dog to be their service dog (SD). If the veteran does not have a dog, then ASAS will help them find the appropriate dog for their needs and lifestyle either through shelters, rescues or breeders.
I would like to nominate the Greenhill Humane Society for the Giving Gorilla Program. Greenhill operates solely on donations, gifts and grants. With that money they are able to be advocates for homeless pets and provide them with safe shelter while they are up for adoption. In addition, they educate the community and take necessary steps to end pet overpopulation. I chose Greenhill because of my love for animals, my two rescue cats and all of the office dogs I have come to love while working at Gorilla. I am proud to nominate them based on their ability to offer low cost, or often free, spay and neuter services, educational tours and presentations, safe foster care for animals that are injured or coming out of a domestic violence situation, and many other great services. In addition to being a great resource in our community they are good stewards of their donor dollars. Over 83 cents of every dollar they receive goes towards their programs and services and they are a four-star rated charity on CharityNavigator.org
I would like to nominate White Bird Medical Clinic to receive a donation from the “Giving Gorilla” program. White Bird is a non-profit organization that has been helping the underserved in Eugene, Oregon for over 45 years. White Bird Medical Clinic’s sole focus is on providing health care to members of our community who, for various reasons, have found it difficult to receive healthcare from traditional medical providers. 50% of White Bird Medical’s patients are currently experiencing homelessness, and all of WBMC patients are experiencing extreme poverty. A majority of WBMC patients are seen at no cost to the patient.
White Bird Medical Center is especially important to me because I work several hours there each week as a Financial Manager. I see firsthand the excellent, unbiased care that WBMC employees provides to all patients.
As I thought about what I wanted to nominate for The Giving Gorilla Program, many different ideas popped into my head. I remembered a documentary I had watched about gorillas and thought ‘what could be better than Gorilla Capital saving its own mascot, gorillas!?‘ Gorillas saving gorillas! Gorillas are one of human’s closest cousins by sharing 98.3% of the same DNA. Gorillas are generally peaceful, gentle, charismatic, intelligent animals who have extremely similar emotions and gestures as us. Primarily because of human activity, all African Gorillas are endangered. Like humans, gorillas reproduce slowly which makes them especially exposed to declines in population. Only 17% of gorilla’s live in protected regions in Africa. Large areas of gorilla habitats have already been destroyed by logging, mining, oil, and agriculture, and poaching is a serious problem. And since gorillas are so much like us humans, they are more susceptible to our diseases such as Ebola, respiratory infections, and TB.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International has been working hard to save African Gorillas since 1967. The Gorilla Fund is saving gorillas by conducting and monitoring many anti-poaching patrols, getting scientific research on gorilla behavior and ecology, supporting park authorities, protecting Grauer’s gorillas and caring for young gorillas rescued from poachers. They are also linking conservation with people in Africa by addressing the health issues of people near gorillas. By donating to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International we can help continue efforts to help save and promote awareness for gorillas.
As part of our donation we adopted a mother and infant pair and are proudly displaying their photo at our office now.
The community organization I would like to donate to and support are the kids of St Paul’s School and the MOSS (McCall Outdoor Science School) program. MOSS offers Idaho students the opportunity for hands-on, outdoor learning in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. The campus is right next to Ponderosa State Park. This 4-day science school will allow the St. Paul’s students the opportunity to experience science in a variety of ways: conduct a stream study, hike, canoe, study erosion, collect data on atmospheric conditions, vegetative cover, or soil characteristics, etc. Even better, the science is integrated with other subject areas including math, language arts, and physical fitness. Appreciation for nature, community building through shared chores and small group living will enrich their experience even further. This is an immensely positive and educational experience for the students.
MOSS is put on by the University of Idaho and allows young students to participate in “life’s classroom”, the world that we live in. Students learn by immersing themselves in nature. Students grow and create while exploring the science of ecology. The University and its partners use MOSS to foster scientific literacy, leadership skills and open-minded dialogue through graduate and professional education, youth science programs, seminars, and more. The school was founded in 2001 and has remained the only publicly operated K-12 residential outdoor school in Idaho. The mission of the McCall Outdoor Science School is to facilitate place-based, collaborative science inquiry within the context of Idaho’s land, water and communities.
Without the local support of donors, these programs would not be possible for these kids. I have had one of my kids participate in the program and these educational experiences are the ones that they carry on for life.
I would like to nominate O’Hara School Foundation (just changed name to Open Door Foundation in June) for the Gorilla Giving Program. Here is a little bit of information about the program and what they do for the community:
Since its revival in 2001, the O’Hara Foundation has made a significant impact on the growth of the school. Working seamlessly with the administration at O’Hara Catholic School, the Foundation’s Scholarship Endowment Fund provides financial assistance for as many families as possible, regardless of financial circumstances. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, since the 2002/2003 school year, the Foundation has given nearly $200,000 in tuition assistance, making it possible for O’Hara to provide a Catholic education for families who wish to send their children to O’Hara.
Quality/Top Notch education should be available to every child regardless of their financial background. This foundation helps provide those scholarships for children in the local community. Obviously, this is important to me because I have a child attending this school and I like to see him with a diverse group of kids from all walks of life. Also, it’s nice to know that should something happen and I fall on hard times, there would be a backup system in place to help Kellen finish his education at O’Hara.
I have nominated the Willamette Farm & Food Coalition (WFFC) for the Gorilla Giving program because I believe that aside from clean drinking water, a sustainable food system is imperative to our health and the environment’s health. Living in Lane County, we are blessed with a long growing season and an abundance of farms right at our fingertips, and WFFC helps bridge the gap between consumers and local food. I personally find it difficult to maintain a thriving garden when working full-time, so I am grateful that programs such as WFFC exist to help make access to local food easier. I am encouraged to see the small but definite shift in our culture back to buying local, growing your own food, and looking for locally grown, sustainable alternatives to mass-produced food.
WFFC is a local nonprofit that helps facilitate and support the development of a secure and sustainable food system in Lane County Oregon. Their goal is a food system where our local farms and food businesses (grocers and restaurants) are both ecologically and economically viable, our agricultural lands are supporting a larger percentage of our food needs, and all members of our community have access to fresh, local foods. WFFC partners with 75 local farms, 29 CSA (community supported agriculture) programs, 10 farmers markets, 4 school districts, 42 food businesses, 4 distributors, 8 other Lane County nonprofits, and 8 additional nonprofits in the state. Some of their projects include their Farm to School Program, where they assist school districts in purchasing local food and help educate school children and their families about where their food comes from and good nutrition, a year-round online farmers market called Lane Local Foods, and the Fill your Pantry program, which is an annual bulk buying event where individual households can purchase large quantities of storage crops directly from area farms.
Gorilla Capital also proudly supports the following programs and events annually in Eugene:
For the last four years, Gorilla Capital has been proud to support CASA through its annual fundraiser, Casino Night. We donate a raffle basket, sponsor a table, and invite all of our local employees to attend and participate in the the event with us. We also have 3 employees and/or their families actively involved in the CASA program in one way or another.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a national association that promotes court-appointed advocates for foster children.
Since its inaugural year 10 years ago, we have been proud to be the mile marker sponsor for the Eugene Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k. Look for the big blue mile markers along the race track and the Gorillas handing out water and bananas around mile 8! We are also proud to say that each year we have employees and/or their family running the races.
What a great program to support! We love Lane County, and we love being headquartered in this beautiful place. We do not take fresh water for granted. Lets protect our special rivers and lands! This is our 4th year supporting MRT.
This is serious stuff folks. For the last 4 years we have sponsored the reigning champions of the Eugene Women’s Volleyball League, Team Gorilla Capital. The team includes 2 of our employees and as well as the interior designer for our office space! In May this group of women clinched their 5th title in as many years. How long can the streak last? They’re not getting any younger out there…
For the past 5 years we have been proud to support this local event for a great cause. We always put together a team for the golf tournament (we won a few years ago!) and also have a table at the auction. It is a wonderful event, great auction, and great program.
This is our first year as a Business Supporter for WFFC and we are so excited about it! Supporting our local farmers and businesses is always a priority of ours.
The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition is a non-profit that facilitates and supports the development of a secure and sustainable food system in Lane County. They work with setting up CSA’s, Farmer’s Markets, Farm to School programs, getting local food into our grocery stores and restaurants, and publish a yearly guide for the public on the available options for local food.