Next Door celebrates 40th with 8K boost

August 7, 2011

Rotary of Hood River presented The Next Door with a check for $8,333 at Thursday's 40th anniversary celebration at NDI's new headquarters.

Rotary's Bob Francis gave NDI Director Janet Hamada the first of three payments toward its $25,000 pledge for the social agency's capital campaign.

Thursday's event, attended by about 100 people, was the second celebration in three months at the headquarters on the Heights. NDI moved into the remodeled building at 825 Tucker Road in April.

"It's just a miracle we've been doing it for 40 years; we would not be able to do it without you, without the community our partners, our business partners, and our donors," Hamada said. (Thursday's event doubled as the Chamber of Commerce monthly Business After Hours event.)

"It's gratifying to be part of something that continues over a 40-year time, and each evolution of the program has built on the past," said Michael Mehling, NDI director from 1987-2000, who now lives in New Mexico.

"It always gets better; never slides back. It changes, and the program is lucky enough to have staff who are ready to take it to that next level," Mehling said.

"One of the things that's cool about that is, if you're in the business of change, which is what you do with kids, you can't be involved in that without changing yourself," he said.

Hamada said NDI has 57 employees, including nine in its The Dalles office, a total of 210 volunteers, serving 2.088 people in 25 programs serving children, families and the underprivileged.

Hamada said a plaque honoring Rotary will be placed in the youth dining room.

"That is exactly what Rotary is all about; taking care of the kids in our community," Hamada said. NDI programs include Klahre House, a school and day treatment for youth in foster care.

The new NDI facility is a welcome change, said one man who's been a big part of Klahre House for 22 years.

"It's all right here in the same place," said Ralph Kupersmith, who trains foster families. "It opens up our kids to have parent training, or talk about family issues in different ways with different people besides just Klahre House people.

"Occasionally we get kids that may be parents soon, so it opens them up to an immediate source for parent training."

Anyone wishing to see the NDI headquarters for themselves is invited to attend the weekly Thursday welcome tours, at 10 a.m.

Call 541-386-6665 for details.

"We don't ask you for money at this tour," Hamada said.

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