United Way is purchasing the American Red Cross building on Hawthorne Street in Medford. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

United Way buying Medford Red Cross office

After a nomadic six decades, the United Way of Jackson County will have a permanent place in Medford. The Red Cross, meanwhile, is on the lookout for a new local home.

A deal to purchase the Red Cross' administrative office at at 60 Hawthorne St., near Hawthorne Park, will close at the end of the month, according to United Way CEO Dee Anne Everson, putting the organization into a building it owns for the first time.

Red Cross officials say the move won't impact its services, and Red Cross CPR classes will continue at 60 Hawthorne St.

“We’ll still give them space for those classes forever,” Everson said, adding that she's looking forward to expanding the building's access to others in the nonprofit community, such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services and Resolve mediation training. "It will be open for community use, too."

Renovations to the building will start in March, and Everson hopes to move into the building by late June or early July. Meeting space can accommodate as many as 60 people, with free parking, and aside from a cleaning deposit, United Way has no plans to charge for use.

“Our nonprofit community really needs meeting space, and we’ll be able to offer that,” Everson said.

The new facility will be the local United Way's first in 61 years, said Everson. For the past decade, the organization has received office space donations from Providence Medford Medical Center and Banner Bank.

"I think they're going to be happy not to have to move again, for their careers probably," Everson said.

United Way previously used borrowed rooms wherever they could find them for campaign events and board meetings.

"We've been all over town," Everson said, adding that the different locations for classes have confused people in the past.

The Red Cross blood donation center will remain on Progress Drive, and administrative staff will move to an as-yet undetermined location, according to Monique Dugaw, regional director of communications for the American Red Cross.

"All of our services will remain intact and unchanged," Dugaw said. "We'll simply be shifting our administrative offices to a new location."

The Red Cross office accommodates one full-time disaster program manager and an AmeriCorps team member, along with regional staff and local volunteers, according to Dugaw. The agency's disaster-relief services typically occur out in the field.

The agency responds on average to three disasters a day and has 700 volunteers in its Southwest Oregon chapter — consisting of Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lake and Linn counties.

Everson said United Way approached the Red Cross with the offer, while Dugaw said the Red Cross had been eyeing a space that better met the agency's needs after a busy 2017, calling it a "good deal all around."

Throughout the Oregon and Southwest Washington region, the Red Cross responded to 13 percent more disasters, helped 26 percent more families and deployed 74 percent more emergency responders in 2017 than in 2016, according to Dugaw.

Dugaw said the Red Cross is searching for a space that will accommodate the staff member's office, volunteer workstations, a closed-door meeting room, adequate parking and a central location to allow quick response.

 “We are extremely active in the Rogue Valley and we want to have a facility that accommodates how active we are,” Dugaw said.

United Way is seeking donations in a new $400,000 campaign to cover the building's purchase, renovations and the "small things that can and will go wrong," according to Everson. The agency, which is already at 20 percent of its fundraising goal, will draw the rest of the purchase price from its endowment fund and begin a capital campaign to reimburse the endowment account.

"We have the funds, we just need to replace them," Everson said.

She said the capital campaign would be entirely separate from the agency's annual fundraising effort that supports a large number of nonprofit programs in Jackson County.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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