Helping to Avert Superbowl Penalties

On February 3rd, 21 youth from Hood River Valley High school’s Health Media and OSSOM Clubs plastered beer cases at Rosauer’s and Safeway with stickers to promote safety during Superbowl festivities. The stickers read, “Avoid penalties this Superbowl Sunday. A fine will be the least of your worries. Designate a sober driver.” The stickers were designed by youth Health Media members Maribel Vidal, Ben Toledo, Lily Renteria, Joel Manzo, Vanessa Bañuelos, Lupe Santillan, Uli Arroyo, and Crystal Cornejo.

The Health Media and OSSOM Club students know that Superbowl Sunday is one of the most dangerous days on the roadways of the year due to impaired driving. They are aware that any amount of alcohol is impairing and that even low blood alcohol concentrations can affect psychomotor skills, vision, perception, tracking (steering), information processing, and attention. They wanted to remind adults to be safe and model responsible behaviors, especially during this day of high alcohol consumption.

Billboard Shines with Healthy Message

By: Nicole Mejia

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hood River, OR (September 3): A Picasso-like starry night featuring Mount Hood covers the State Street billboard in front of the Hood River County Court House and urges readers, “Don’t Let Drinking Blur Your Vision on Life.” The billboard design was the result of a contest held last spring by Hood River Valley High School’s HEALTH Media Club, which stands for Helping, Educate, Advocate, and Lead Toward Health.

The winning designer, Ellery Young, was a 2009 graduate of Hood River Valley High School and is beginning college in Utah this fall. Young is an avid snowboarder and hopes to major in Parks and Recreation Management.

This was the second year HEALTH Media Club held a billboard contest for Hood River Valley High School students. Other participants of the contest included Jody Kunigel, Yesi Castro, and Reece Tyler, Amanda Gabriel, and Ashley Gath. The goal of the contest was to involve students in social marketing message creation while raising awareness of the negative effects of underage drinking. In 2006, Hood River County youth alcohol use remained higher than the state average, with 48 percent of 11th graders having drank on one or more occasions in the previous month, according to the Oregon Healthy Teen Survey.

Even so, according to Maija Yausi of the Commission on Children and Families, drug and alcohol prevention efforts of the community, teamed with the school’s drug prevention curriculum, after school programming, and parent skills building classes, have helped to reduce rates of youth alcohol use since 2003. Young’s billboard design will stay up through the end of this month with the support of Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

HEALTH Media Club is an after school program of The Next Door, Inc. and the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families. The program will continue through the 2009 to 2010 school year at Hood River Valley High School and Wy’east Middle School.

Nicole Mejia is a Health Promotion Coordinator for Nuestra Comunidad Sana, a program of The Next Door, Inc.

The Next Door Rescues Forest Service Jobs


Trail and Recreation Crew Leaders Needed Wednesday, May 6, 2009 Hood River, Oregon (May 6): When Janet Hamada, Executive Director of the Next Door, Inc. (NDI) heard that another local agency was giving up the Summer Youth Conservation Corps youth jobs, she was excited at the prospect of taking responsibility for the program. Then she found out there was a requirement to match some of the funding for the program.

“It was a tough decision,” said Hamada. “I know we will probably get a grant to cover the shortfall next year, but finances are very tight right now.” In the end, she decided to take the risk partly because by managing this program, NDI can keep $125,000 or more in our community just when it’s badly needed.

Claudia Montaño, program manager for Nuestra Comunidad Sana, stepped up to the plate to help manage the program, in partnership with Pattiann Monzie from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Luckily, and coincidentally, Gabriel Muro, a current health promoter with Nuestra Comunidad Sana, had worked on the trail crews through the Summer Youth Conservation Corps for two years and then as a Forest Service employee for five years throughout his college days. He will be the Coordinator of the project this summer and states, “I’m excited to get back to the trails!”

The Forest Service youth jobs program has essential benefits for our youth and our community.

  • 25+ young people age 16-21 will have summer employment at a time when jobs are scarce
  • Five adults age 21 and over will have summer employment as their crew leaders
  • As of today, May 6, more than 50 people have applied for these 30 jobs
  • All these workers gain significant skills while learning about their environment
  • Workers make connections and build references and support to help them get their next job
  • Crew members are given incentives to graduate high school and go on to college, and
  • Making a good impression can lead to better, longer, higher paying Forest Service jobs.

Without this program, none of these good things will happen.

To apply for a Forest Service Crew or Crew Leader position, go to their website at or come to 212 2nd St. in Hood River for an application.

In the meantime, Hamada and her staff have looked very closely at every program and expense to see what they could change without compromising their services to those in need.

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