By Mike McInally
This is the third story in a five-part series about how donations to the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation are making a difference in students’ lives and how the Foundation has pivoted to address pandemic-related needs.
Corvallis single mother Sarah Krupp finally moved into her new apartment with her fourth-grade son on March 3, 2020.
She was grateful for the new digs: After fleeing from a domestic violence situation, she and her son had been living in the family shelter at Community Outreach, Inc. Her new apartment gave her a chance at a fresh start.
A week or so later, the coronavirus pandemic threw her and her son a curveball, triggering quarantines throughout Corvallis, Oregon and the United States. School buildings closed and students made the transition to distance learning.
“We literally went on lockdown the week after I moved in,” Krupp said.
But she and her son, Desmond, got by – with timely assistance from the Corvallis School District, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation and other local agencies such as the Community Services Consortium.
Krupp’s story is about a family determined to build a better future. But it’s also a story about how different agencies, working together, can help families get through rough patches – and how organizations like the schools foundation can quickly pivot to address unexpected issues.
For Krupp, the cross-agency cooperation began as soon as she and her son landed at the COI shelter. That’s when COI staffers reached out to Sarah Devine, the family outreach advocate, at the Corvallis School District. “They had Desi in school within a day,” Krupp said.
And that was just the start. Devine brought school supplies for Desi and hygiene supplies such as laundry cards and detergent for Krupp. Staffers at the Community Services Coalition worked with Krupp to get her the apartment – and Devine helped line up the deposit for the apartment.
That early assistance allowed Krupp the space to start thinking more than a day ahead and to break out of the mental state that people who are homeless often fall prey to.
“Your brain, when you’re homeless, is on survival mode,” Krupp said. “Your higher functions are not available. And people don’t understand that.”
Lockdown raised a new set of challenges – but Devine, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation, and the Community Services Coalition were on hand to help Krupp meet those.
“They delivered food for me and they made it possible for me to actually shelter in place safely and to be healthy and to have support from the outside world,” Krupp said.
Devine still stays in touch – and is available to offer help as needed.
“I can still text her and she’ll send me a gift certificate for a grocery store,” Krupp said. “It’s little things like that, which otherwise would be difficult.”
Krupp also took advantage of a program launched and funded by the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation in which participants received boxes of fresh produce from Riverland Family Farms. (Dial-A-Bus was an essential partner in getting the food to recipients.) Since Krupp has experience as a chef – and a hungry preteen to feed – the additional food was much appreciated. “I can make a meal out of pretty much anything,” she said.
“It’s the kind of support that takes people out of poverty and gives them a chance to get back on their feet,” Krupp said. “It’s a good way for the community to support people and help them with a hand up. I know people are worried about handouts, but if it feels like a hand up, it feels more productive.”
Mike McInally is a free-lance writer who lives and works in Corvallis, Oregon.