SALEM, Ore. – Feb. 1, 2023 – Today the Marion County Board of Commissioners approved an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Beneficiary Agreement with Isaac’s Room in the amount of $250,000 for the replacement of lost revenue incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expanding youth opportunities through December 31, 2026.
Isaac’s Room is a non-profit youth development organization serving divested youth in the Salem area.
“Isaac’s room was founded through the loss of our first son, Isaac, and also doing teenage parole and probation boy foster care in our twenties,” said Tiffany Bulgin, who founded the non-profit with her husband, Mark. “We have given the last 20 years to working with divested youth, usually ages 16 to 21.
“There’s no qualification except wanting to make life better. We do get referrals from parole-probation, foster parents, and the alternative programs with the school district.”
Isaac’s Room works with divested youth to help them build the capacity to face the challenges of life through programs like IKE Quest.
“It’s very holistic,” said Bulgin. “It includes working out, eating dinner together, service-learning projects, class, but the central component is giving them a job.
“There is a phrase: ‘person A’ helps ‘person B’ and ‘person A’ gets better. In helping these youths become ‘person A’ and giving them a way to serve others, that’s how they come to see their own value and can build confidence and skills to become givers in our community.”
The $250,000 approved ARPA dollars will predominantly go toward scaling up their youth apprenticeship program and the expansion of Isaac’s Downtown, where they plan to add an additional 10 to 15 jobs for youth.
“I’m thrilled that these dollars are going to be able to help Isaac’s Room stabilize and expand,” said Commissioner Danielle Bethell. “That’s what I believe we want to be doing as a county, is making sure that we invest in opportunities for folks to really live their best lives in Marion County, and for the whole community to benefit from it.
“Anytime you can get a kid a job, they’re not receiving from the system, and they’re living a more fruitful, healthy life.”
“You really can tell how good a community is by how they treat the kids in that community,” said Commissioner Colm Willis. “I’ve always admired the work of Isaac’s Room, and I appreciate how much the community benefits from it as a program.”