Recent Press Releases

Biking Workshops for Bigs and Littles

Biking Workshop

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Columbia Gorge participants braved windy conditions on Friday, September 21st and Saturday, September 22nd for their first ever road and mountain biking workshops.

The events were held at two separate locations in Hood River: the Mark O. Hatfield trailhead and Family Man stunt progression area on Post Canyon. Wes Swearingen of Mt. View Cycles in Hood River hosted the workshops.

While Jacob Mekediak, who participated in the mountain biking workshop, was justifiably wary of the “drop off” obstacle at Family Man, he successfully conquered several others. He wound skillfully around trees and hairpin turns, up and down hills, and across wooden beams. Swearingen, with his years of experience in the biking field, was extraordinarily impressed with the courageous 12-year-old.

Approximately ten Bigs and Littles from Hood River, Klickitat, and Wasco counties participated in the workshops, where they learned basic bike maintenance, including how to change a flat tire and how to repair a broken chain. The pairs then rode at the two locations on bikes of their own and bikes provided by Mt. View Cycles.

Big Winds Hosts Paddlers

Hood River, Oregon (August 7, 2012), Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Columbia Gorge was blessed with beautiful weather on Sunday, August 5th for their first ever Stand Up Paddling Clinic in Nichols Basin, hosted by the Big Winds SUP Junior Elite Team. 

Though the sun was hot and the water was warm, one Little Sister begged her Big Sister, “Don’t let me fall in!” Despite her uncertainty, she went from sitting on her Big Sister’s board to standing and paddling on her own board within minutes.

Approximately 20 Bigs and Littles from Hood River, Wasco, and Klickitat counties participated in the clinic where they learned the basics of Stand Up Paddling. By the end of the class, Big Winds’ volunteers  looked on as participants put  their skills to the test in a head-to-head relay race.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, a program of The Next Door, provides children between the ages of 6 and 14 with one-to-one mentoring relationships with adult volunteers. More than 15 boys and girls in the three county service area are waiting for mentors. To become a volunteer mentor or to refer a child, contact Justine Ziegler at (541)490-9979.

We’re Green

100 Best Green CompaniesThe Next Door has been named one of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon in 2012 by Oregon Business magazine. The award was determined by an anonymous employee survey and an independent assessment of our sustainability practices, which include workplace recycling, waste reduction, energy conservation, and buying local.
Here’s what they said, “This ranking shows that your workplace has implemented a variety of green policies, and that your employees place a high value on sustainable practices and believe that your commitment to them is exceptional.”

Professional Foster Parenting; Is It Right for You?


April 18, 2012

Hood River, Oregon (April 18): To kick off Foster Parent Appreciation Month, The Next Door’s Foster Parent Recruiter, Heidi Venture, hosts a foster parent information class, Tuesday, May 1 from 6-7:30 pm at The Next Door’s Conference Room at 965 Tucker Rd in Hood River. This class will detail the rewards and challenges of being professional foster parents. Participants will learn how to become professional foster parents and make a big difference in a foster teen’s life. By the end of the class, they will be prepared to make a decision about pursuing this rewarding career.

The Next Door cares for 25-30 foster teens, with most of their foster homes located in Wasco and Hood River Counties. To find out more, visit or call Heidi Venture at 541-436-0303.

The Next Door is a local nonprofit whose mission is opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities. Staff members work with thousands of people in the Columbia Gorge who are struggling; to grow up strong, to stop getting in trouble, to be good enough parents, and even to learn a sustainable way to have enough food.

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Preventing Child Abuse

To the editor:
April 4, 2012
April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.  Even though the topic may make us uncomfortable, we need to be aware that child abuse and neglect exist in our community.  Hood River County’s rate is slightly below the state average; however, 49 of our children were victims in 2010.  Because none of us want children to suffer, let’s turn our thoughts and energy to prevention.

Yes, we can prevent child abuse.  How?  There are many different ways to choose from, and they all involve being supportive…of children, of their parents, and of the important role that parenting plays in our society.  We can:  offer to watch a neighbor’s children before the challenges of single parenting become overwhelming;  mentor a young mom or dad who never had the good fortune of experiencing positive parenting in their own lives;  invite a classmate’s parents to go to a parenting class with us;  report suspicions of abuse or neglect to the authorities; advocate for pro-child and pro-family legislation;  work toward educational achievement and poverty reduction;  and financially support prevention programs that do this good work on your behalf.

Our experience at Families First and New Parent Services is that all parents love their children, want to be good parents and are doing the best they know how to with the limited tools they have.  Those of us who won the childhood lottery of having nurturing parents are in a position to pay it forward – preventing child abuse and neglect through supporting, mentoring, advocating and giving.

 Karen Enns, Program Director, The Next Door