Open Doors: Changing lives one cup, one project at a time

February 2020 Posted in People

By Dixon Bledsoe

Imagine a young adult, just finishing high school and heading out into the world for college, work or travel. A challenging time for an 18-year-old, right? Both exciting and scary.

Now imagine an 18-year-old with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She had a support system in high school, from counselors to aides, from teachers to friends with similar challenges. He had activities and clubs and maybe a network of friends, too.

Many kids with special challenges may not be the best candidates for the college experience. Where do they go? Where do they live? Where do they fit?

Curt Shaw, founder of Open Doors Charitable Trust and one of its four trustees, has some answers. He saw a problem for this post-high school group of youth needing an extra hand, a warm bed, and a network of support, and came up with a solution.

These young people need housing which many non-profits identify as a key challenge for their clients. So, Shaw came up with an idea with a goal to get them that housing at an affordable rate.

Shaw encountered Bert Ortiz, owner of Tico’s Coffee out of Stayton. Ortiz’s company roasts coffee and sells it both wholesale and retail. Tico’s donates a sizable part of its profits to Open Doors to buy housing for these special young adults, who can live somewhat independently, and then rent it at half the market rate.

“Open Doors Charitable Trust (a 501-c(3)) provides non-profits serving individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities with access to affordable housing resources so they can expand their own services,” said Shaw. “These non-profits deliver shelter, along with such services as vocational rehabilitation, life and job skills training to increase self-worth, community involvement, and instill a sense of purpose.”

Shaw continues: “Our goal in five years is to be at $1 billion in asset value. We need to recruit people to assist with finding the applicable non-profits… It is the Paul Newman model to feed revenue into the trust and then secure properties with the assets obviously staying in the trust and appreciating.”

“Right now we are seeking enough revenue to secure the next house free-and -lear and we should have another three by the end of this year at the minimum,” said Anthony Arriaga, another trustee and business development manager. “But we also have an educational and job board component, where people can locate a non-profit in their area offering the services they need, as well as links to potential jobs.”

These are exciting times for Open Doors. They have recently worked with Roth’s Fresh Markets. Tico’s Coffee with the Open Doors sticker on the bag is now in nine stores.

“We are excited about carrying Tico’s Coffee in all nine stores and supporting the Open Doors program,” said Darin Rybloom, Director of Grocery Buying
at Roth’s.

Roth’s has been a conduit in another regard. Kevin Griffin, a Roth’s employee and 2013 Silverton Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award  recipient, became friends with Shaw through the store, and shares the same benevolent goals. Griffin worked with many of the same population of kids at Silverton High School. Now he is a trustee of Open Doors and works with the young adults in activities they can enjoy with others of similar ages and circumstances.

Former Silverton Mayor Stu Rasmussen offered to let Griffin and his group meet at the Mt. Angel Performing Arts Center. There youths meet regularly to learn about theater, and music will be introduced as well as other arts activities.

“They are terrific young people, and working with Curt and Open Doors has been a natural progression,” Griffin said. “They are great young adults who need outlets for expression, social networking, and housing. This is just a wonderful adventure.”

Ortiz, of Tico’s Coffee, agrees: “I am happy to help such a worthwhile cause. Of course, we want to sell coffee and expand our wholesale and retail capabilities, but with a benevolent focus to helping these young people. It is a joy.”

Kate Tarter is the fourth trustee for Open Doors Charitable Trust.

“It is evolving,” she said.  “Originally, I helped Curt ad Kevin find resources to help one individual with mental health issues and facing homelessness. Matching families who have a child with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) is my passion and niche. It comes naturally from being the parent of a child with an ID/DD.”

For more information, go to www.opendoors-ct.org. 503-409-6700.

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