Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center fosters community for all

The Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center on Nov. 29, 2023.
The Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center on Nov. 29, 2023.
Lily Middleton

On the outside of the Corvallis Daytime Drop-In Center, a sign declares the building as being a place “where needs are met.”

Inside, this claim is honored as staff and volunteers of the non-profit work to connect Corvallis’s unhoused community with resources and support.

Allison Hobgood, the CDDC’s executive director, explains the center as a “resource and navigation hub” that aims to provide low-barrier access and solutions to a majority of problems that unhoused or impoverished individuals may face. 

From 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays, the center offers walk-in guests a warm drink or bite to eat, indoor and outdoor shelter from inclement weather, free clothing, mail pick-up, harm reduction supplies and even access to industry partners from healthcare clinics, veteran and senior services, and legal and financial aid. 

The center is also open by appointment only from noon to 2 p.m. when guests can access counseling services free of charge.

Instead of having to visit multiple stand-alone locations, the center allows guests to speak to healthcare representatives, social workers and county resource employees all under the same roof.

Tawn Christans is a volunteer at the CDDC who began spending time at the center in an effort to connect with the Corvallis community, a group which she feels unhoused people are often not seen as being a part of.

Christians, who works for Oregon State University’s crisis response program, OSU Assist, believes that “having a space that doesn’t focus on a transactional relationship with folks and (offers a) community relationship” is vital to offering care to an unhoused and often traumatized demographic.

“(They should) be seen as humans,” Christians said.

Being trauma-informed has been at the forefront of the CDDC’s mission since its beginning. 

Founded in 2002 under the name “Circle of Hope,” the organization originally focused on peer-to-peer support for individuals in need of psychiatric care. As the intersection between mental illness and homelessness became clearer, the center went through what Hobgood considers to be a logical evolution, eventually becoming the Corvallis Daytime Drop-In Center in 2012.

For years, the Drop-In Center operated out of local church basements until, through grant funding and donations, the organization opened the doors of their first stand-alone location on Southwest Fourth Street in 2019.

“There’s a lot that we do besides food, clothes and sheltering needs,” said Val Goodness, CDDC’s data and information coordinator.

Apart from collecting data concerning guest numbers and demographics, Goodness offers personal support to guests daily, many of whom she considers friends.

Sharing the office with Goodness is Sarah Ligon, the CDDC’s homeless employment launching program coordinator. 

Both residing in the only individual office in the center’s largely open and communal layout, the pair’s workspace often becomes a safe space for upset and in-need guests looking for a private area to decompress or seek help.

Before beginning her position at the CDDC five years ago, Ligon, a Corvallis native, claims she was unaware of the homelessness in her community. 

“I knew nothing about what people go through,” Ligon said. “That ignorance really hurts us.”

Since then, Ligon too has come to create close relationships with the guests she works with.

Ligon believes that many who are drawn to working at the center have faced trauma in their own lives, a commonality which allows them to understand and be understood by their guests on a deeper level.

When it comes to love and understanding, guests are not the only ones on the receiving end at the CDDC.

“It’s so cool to come to your job every day and have people witness you and tell you your value,” Hobgood said. “That I get to be on the reciprocal end of that is pretty amazing.”

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