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DHS Provider Receives A Major Gift That Will Help Many

Presenting $500,000 to Opportunity Foundation, left to right; Mahlon's daughter, Rosalind Knox, Mahlon Couch, his sister, Lucille Johnson, and daughter Twyla Robbins.
A licensed provider of service for DHS was recently the recipient of a $500,000 gift from a local individual who wanted to honor the legacy of his son.

Former timber company owner Mahlon Couch, 89, wanted to give a gift to remember his son, Jim, whose life drastically changed over 40 years ago from a timber accident.

A few months ago, Mahlon approached Opportunity Foundation, a well known and highly respected Central Oregon non-profit agency and DHS provider of residential and employment alternatives for people with disabilities.

Although Mahlon's son Jim was never a client with the Opportunity Foundation, Mahlon felt he wanted to give the money to "trustworthy people" with a good mission.

"This gift demonstrates the value of Opportunity Foundation's long-standing quality reputation in the community," said Mary Lee Fay, Administrator, DHS Office of Developmental Disabilities. "Because they are such a value-driven organization they will use those funds to positively impact their community."

In 1967, at age 19, helping at his father's business, Jim was working in the woods running a skidder when the faller dropped a tree on him. He experienced traumatic injuries to his brain and body. He was in a coma for three months and even after waking up from the coma, he never really recovered. He died this past June at age 63.   Because of Mahlon's generous donation, a wood mill located on the foundation's property was dedicated recently and named after Jim. Now adults with disabilities will go to work at the Jim Couch Wood Mill.

In addition, because the gift was unrestricted--Mahlon requested they spend it where it was needed most - Opportunity Foundation is considering a variety of things, including paying down debt on several group homes; offering scholarships to those who will lose state disability funding at the end of the month; a benevolent fund to assist with unexpected client and staff needs; and putting some funds toward improvements in their programs such as efforts to transition clients to private sector jobs. "We've talked about purchasing some shredding machines and placing them in local businesses enabling some of our folks to get placed in local businesses," said executive director Darrel Wilson.

"This gift was a complete surprise," Wilson said. "But beyond the significance of this gift and what it means to our community, it is truly the demonstration of a father's deep love and affection for his son," he said.

For more information on Opportunity Foundation, go to their website at: http://www.ofco.org.