Domestic Violence Survivor Shares her Story of Gratitude

Kristina’s ex-boyfriend broke into her apartment wielding a knife with which he threatened to kill her, then himself. When she shared details about the attack, she talked about the fear, the panic, the rage…but the theme she kept coming back to, was gratitude.

First she described the appreciation she had for the Coast Guard men upstairs who locked the door and stood guard while she shakily called the police. Then, with enthusiasm, she talked about the advocates from The Harbor who walked her through the next steps.

“They helped me get my belongings, offered to make phone calls to my family, put me up in a hotel and made sure I had safe transportation so my ex couldn’t recognize my car. ”

The Harbor, a United Way of Clatsop County Nonprofit Partner, provides advocacy, prevention and support while promoting self-determination and hope for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Kristina felt more vulnerable than she ever had after the attack, but she felt the competence of the advocates allowed her to relax into their care after the incident.

“I appreciated that the advocate who came to my house the night I was attacked also came to every court hearing. She was with me when I was scared, when I was nervous about testifying, when I had to recount the story in front of the court. Her support, all the way through the final court hearing, put me at ease and made me feel comfortable.” Kristina smiled and dreamily looked off in the distance. ” I don’t know where the advocate is now, but I wish I could see her, tell her I survived, that I’m ok and l am telling my story so others can know about resources are available to keep them safe too.”

The Harbor provides its services completely free and confidentially. Their staff believe individuals are the experts of their own needs, and are ready to listen and help survivors navigate to a place of safety. This was Kristina’s experience, for which she is immensely grateful.

For more information about The Harbor, visit

Iron Chef Goes Coastal – Event Cancellation

Iron Chef Goes Coastal

For twelve years the beloved event, Iron Chef Goes Coastal (ICGC), has helped financially aid local nonprofits and has become a staple of Clatsop County fall festivities. The ICGC committee had been meeting since May of 2021, altering, adapting and attempting to reinvent the event in consideration of COVID related health and safety concerns.

Unpredictable COVID numbers, overflowing local hospitals and other obstacles have led United Way of Clatsop County and the Iron Chef Goes Coastal committee to cancel 2021’s  Iron Chef Goes Coastal event.

It is with heavy hearts we communicate this decision, as we were excited to be together, showcase the talents of local chefs and most importantly, raise money for underprivileged Clatsop County children, families and seniors, for whom every day is a struggle. 

We thank everyone who supported this event, local restaurants and our community, and look forward to dining with you at future Iron Chef Goes Coastal events.

Until then, we hope to hear from you at this year’s Radiothon & Silent Auction scheduled for November 9-11. Details coming soon!

To financially support the health and safety of Clatsop County residents, click here.

Support our health care heroes

As published in The Astorian, by Jen Munson

Earlier this month, the United Way of Clatsop County Board took an emergency vote which ultimately culminated in a devastating decision.

Due to new COVID-related information from the local medical community, the Shipwrecked Music Festival, a fundraising event for our local nonprofit agencies, was canceled. In making this decision, our board chose to embrace a culture that is pro-science, as well as one of active engagement in all facets of community wellness — even when we stood to lose $15,000 in event operations costs.

Our hearts ached for the nonprofits we’d hoped to assist.

Even in outdoor venues where physical distancing is possible, such as the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, the United Way was advised that the delta variant is remarkably successful in transmission. Further, the event was slated to involve alcohol, which may impair even the most genuine commitment to distancing.

Therefore, we chose to stand with our friends in public health and avoid putting any attendees at risk.

Accordingly, a full-throated show of support for the medical community must include a well-considered appreciation of the pressures these health care workers face on our behalf. Secondly, it requires a personal inventory of the ways in which each of us can better support them in this enduring crisis.

One thing is certain. We are putting these front-line workers at risk of moral injury.

Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent acts that violate one’s own moral beliefs, values or ethical codes of conduct. What’s worse, moral injury can be a precursor to trauma-based diagnoses.

In my professional practice, I have become familiar with how symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder manifest in employment settings. Indeed, we typically associate the concept of moral injury and PTSD with returning military service members.

Colloquially, we may term this “survivor’s guilt.” In fact, guilt has been identified as the most salient experience of PTSD. Additional symptoms include anxiety, hopelessness, flashbacks, social isolation and even suicidal thoughts.

As we learned this month, the county’s hospitals have been inundated by new virus cases, including some tied to the Clatsop County Fair. Complicating matters is another wave of medical equipment and testing supply shortages and the difficulty in transferring patients to other hospitals for specialized care.

Given this situation, it is only a matter of time until our health care workers face some ghastly decisions around who receives life-saving care and who will not. To be regularly charged with such decisions is inconceivable to most of us. We do not train medical workers for this sort of triage either. How could we?

Such high-stakes emotional reckoning is compounded in an epidemic where workers face long shifts punctuated by insufficient rest — only to get up and do it all again the next day. Crucially, where the potency of a traumatic episode is concerned, the effect of repetitive injury leaves little if any time to process an incident. When left unaddressed, these “thousand cuts” often lead to longer term mental health consequences.

It has been said that the ultimate injustice then, on top of all this moral injury, is for health care workers to leave the hospital only to see that outside those walls the rest of us still blunder on, gleefully mocking mask mandates and other precautions as though they are nothing more than political theater.

Is this a failure of education? Or is it a failure of leadership? Regardless, in making those choices, we put our health care workers in harm’s way, and, by extension, their families, too. Almost comically, we then expect them to risk their own lives to save us, should we contract the virus. It’s a calculus suggesting we deem these workers valuable only when we benefit personally.

An alternative to that seeming indifference is to cultivate an ethic known as “health citizenship.” It means that as the beneficiaries of patient care, we hold up our end of the bargain.

We contact our elected representatives and implore them to follow public health science when they set policy. It also means that if they choose not to, we vote them out. Health citizenship requires that we advocate for our hospitals and other medical care providers to protect the well-being of staff. This includes providing adequate trauma-informed support in the form of counseling, peer mentorship, employee resource groups and appropriate staffing to promote recovery time between shifts.

Finally, it means ensuring that we do not further contribute to the problem during this pandemic.

Canceling the Shipwrecked Music Festival was a decision we felt bereaved by. But, ultimately, we knew local health care workers needed our support.

United Way of Clatsop County believes this is the time to shine a light on the importance of standing with our health care workers and beyond. We ask you to join us in supporting these community members with your own efforts towards health citizenship.

Without such heroes, we have little hope for surviving this calamity, nor any other crisis the future may bring.

Jen Munson is a disability rights advocate and social worker who serves on the board of the United Way of Clatsop County.

Shipwrecked Music Festival Cancellation

In light of the rapid increase in COVID hospitalizations, the United Way of Clatsop County board voted Wednesday night to cancel Shipwrecked Music Festival.

At the meeting, we learned that Columbia Memorial, Providence Seaside and Ocean Beach Hospitals are seeing more COVID patients than they have at any other time during the pandemic. Hospital departments, including pediatric, are overrun with patients, and as of yesterday, 834 patients were hospitalized because of COVID, up from the previous high of 600.

The resurgence peak is expected in the next 3 weeks, when the state will potentially be 500 hospital beds short. Hospitals are bracing for new infections resulting from an upcoming beach volleyball tournament in Seaside, the Hood to Coast relay and the State Fair. The UWCC board didn’t want to add Shipwrecked to that list.

We will be working to contact ticketholders over the coming days, if you bought tickets online you should be getting all of this via email soon.

Please consider converting your ticket purchase into a donation. Cancelling the event will mean a loss for us, which ultimately impacts the nonprofits we fund.

Alternatively we could roll your ticket purchase over to next year, though of course at a time like this it’s hard to be sure about what will happen a year from now.

If you’re curious, find out more about what we do here.

If you decide to donate, and you’d like a tax receipt, please contact us.

Here’s hoping that next year is music friendly.

A Scarlett Red Recipe for Change

Red velvet beet cake, hibiscus lemonade, strawberry cornbread cobbler. These culinary delights are associated with Juneteenth due to their auspicious vibrancy.

Juneteenth is a holiday new to many white Americans, and one deserving of pensive commemoration.

Also referred to as Freedom Day, Juneteenth has been a holiday celebrated by many Black Americans on June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of all enslaved people in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, after the Civil War ended, slaves were declared free.

Many forget that, although we celebrate July 4th as our American Independence Day, many black people remained enslaved long after 1776. It wasn’t until 90 years later, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in January of 1863, that slavery was ended by law – and another two years for that law to be communicated to (with purposeful enforcement) in the Confederate states further south.

There are numerous ways to pay homage to this remarkable event in American history.  My own ritual induction has seen a series of fits and starts. After conducting historical research and a number of nerdy focus group dialogues among obliging friends, I decided upon an event that invokes the traditional Texan one.  It will feature a modest gathering and a tasting of wondrous red fare!  We shall dazzle our loved ones with a flight of my wife’s homemade summer berry wines.  We will muddle our way through a reading of the emancipation proclamation.  With chagrin, we will lament Astoria’s rather memorable tango with the KKK in the 1920s and marvel over what it must have been like to see the cross burning on Coxcomb hill. We will marinate over what a historical ‘civil rights walking tour’ of our city might look like in anticipation of future Juneteenth gatherings.

But all of these intellectual exchanges must be paired with a purposeful offering too – one of action, one of service.

In honor of Juneteenth, I donate my time to an agency that shares my values. United Way of Clatsop County is my chosen beneficiary – it’s where I concentrate my local attention to help understand and correct inequities that lead to racial injustice, oppression and violence against people of color in my community.

Locally, nationally and world-wide United Ways are taking steps to forge more equitable communities.  We affirm that power lies within individuals. Individuals must act in order for structures to change, and once structures change, culture may begin to recognize every human for exactly that: their humanity.

Wondering how to learn more about Juneteenth? Democracy advocacy group NextGen America has an excellent short video, “History of Juneteenth,” available free online that can start you on your journey and bring modern relevance to your engagement with equity. Another brief video, Vox’s “Why all Americans Should Celebrate Juneteenth” is similarly edifying.

Gov. Kat Brown signed a bill into law this month making Juneteenth a state holiday.

This year, armed with both curiosity and humility, join me in founding your own Juneteenth ritual. For buried in these rituals, these offerings is a scarlet red recipe for change.

–Jen Munson, United Way of Clatsop County board member, Disability Rights advocate and Social Worker


If you would like to thank Congress for recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday and encourage further action, click here.

Finding Family – UWCC Partner Agency Connects Foster Care Teen with Grandma

What would it be like to grow up without a biological family? To not have albums filled with generational portraits of similar-featured faces, no Grandma with stories of “your mom when she was in high school”, no favorite Aunt with tales of your dad blowing up frogs as a boy.

For many children in the foster system, this is reality. They don’t have the connection to their genealogical pasts, they don’t have stories of family members with the same outlook on life, they don’t have pictures of siblings with similar features.

Now imagine if, as a teenager, a blood relative was found who wanted to know you, share stories with you and show you pictures of your family. This was the case for Calvin*, who grew up in foster care.  Click here to find out how the Hope House’s Family Find program helped connect Calvin to his past…and also his future.

Hope House is a United Way of Clatsop County Partner Agency. Their counselors offer services  on a sliding scale for behavioral health, family and community support, refugee and immigrant services, child welfare, aging and independent living and crime victim services.


Shipwrecked Music Festival

August 21, 2021
Doors open 11am,  Music 12 – 8pm

Bring your picnic blankets and sun hats for Shipwreck Music Festival’s inaugural performances. Great music, food, beverages at a family-friendly venue – celebrate summer!

Buy Tickets Here*
*2 free drinks with ticket purchase 

Volunteer Sign Up Here

The Lineup:

The Hackles | 12:00 – 1:00pm

Bart Budwig | 1:20 – 2:20pm

Public Nuisance | 2:40 – 3:40pm

Shannon Curtis | 4:00 – 5:00pm

Mike Izon | 5:20 – 6:20pm

Holiday Friends | 6:40 – 7:40pm

The Drinks:

 Buoy Beer

Pilot House Distilling

Buddha Kat Winery

The Food:

Sasquatch Sandwich Shop

It’s All Greek to Me

Monte Alban Oaxacan Style 

Kim’s Dough2Go

The Venue:

Amphitheater @ Clatsop County Fair & Expo

Additional Details:

Join us for some fun in the sun, with all proceeds benefiting local nonprofits through United Way of Clatsop County.

Prize drawings between each performance. Must be present to win!

Event Guidelines:

Attendees of the Shipwrecked Music Festival agree to the following guidelines:

    1. Please bring and present valid ID for alcoholic beverages.
    2. No outside alcohol.
    3. COVID Guidelines: Masking and social distancing will depend on state and federal guidelines at the time of the festival.
    4. Respect the health, safety, personal space of other attendees.
    5. Only service pets please.
    6. No firearms.

Buy Tickets Here

Thank you Shipwrecked Music Festival sponsors!

Presenting Sponsors:

Captain’s Seat Sponsors:

First Mate Sponsors:

Crow’s Nest Sponsors:

Seaside Outlets KMUN 91.9 Coast Community Radio 94.9 The Bridge
Recology Riverview Bookkeeping & Virtual CFO Hits 94.3 KRKZ
Van Dusen Beverages The Bridge Tender Pizza a’fetta
Clatsop County Sheriffs Clatsop County Fair & Expo Wine Kraft


Prize Give-a-Ways donated by:

Bridge Tender

Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa

Columbia River Maritime Museum

End of the Trail Pub

Human Bean, Warrenton

Lucy’s Books

Watershed Wellness

The Healing Circle

Clatsop County has one of the highest child sexual abuse rates in the state. The abusive cycle is often generational, and many survivors feel too much shame to come forward for help and support.

The Healing Circle – Victory Over Child Abuse (VOCA) has been breaking that cycle since 1988. Below is a story of why:

My name is Jeannie and this will be my 22nd year with The Healing Circle.

My life didn’t start out real great; both my biological parents were unable to be the parents that I needed. I went into the foster care system at the age of one, believing I was lucky to be placed with a  family that adopted me.

Things were going ok until my adopted dad began sexually abusing me. As you can imagine, this caused a great deal of hardship in my family. My mom fell into depression and acquired other health issues. I was left to become the adult. I was 9 years old. I took care of my mom more than I was taking care of myself. I was really struggling, feeling I had ‘ruined’ our family.  I had suicidal thoughts and felt so alone.

Then I was referred to VOCA camp. Victory Over Child Abuse. From the moment I got on the bus I felt like a rock star: this group of adults welcomed me and loved me and let me be the kid that I needed to be. They  made me feel safe.

I went back year after year. These adults became my family. As I grew up I transition into an adult volunteer and eventually asked to join the governing board, which I accepted.

I graduated Job Corp, then college, and have became a mom myself. I know wouldn’t be the person I am today without the love and support I felt from VOCA.  I feel empowered and safe and free to be me and have come to love myself through this program.

United Way is proud to partner with The Healing Circle – Victory Over Child Abuse, where children are taught that they have intrinsic value, no matter what.

2020 Impact Report

UWCC held its Annual Celebration, and it was indeed a celebration this year! 

Despite a worldwide pandemic, despite technological disparities among marginalized populations, despite racial, socio-economic and gender inequity, UWCC Partner Agencies improved lives in Clatsop County in 2020. 

  • 18 families received emotional education and support to guide them through grief, loss, abuse and transition. 

  • 90 children were taken from neglectful or abusive situations and placed in more stable, supportive homes with advocates who fought for their best interest. 
  • 86 survivors of domestic violence were given resources to keep themselves safe and sheltered through their transition to a secure living situation. 
  • 355 individuals were welcomed off the streets, fed and educated on how to live healthy, independent lives.
  • 450 school-aged children created communities in which they could explore, learn and play.
  • 130 adults returned to school with support that allowed them to graduate, become independent and financially secure in their jobs.
  • 2,800 rural students were given access to educational materials to foster a love of learning at home.
  • 156 struggling readers were matched with mentors who inspired learning through the love of literature.
  • 8,100 meals for struggling senior citizens.
  • 31 child survivors of sexual abuse were brought into a safe, understanding community whose mission is for them to understand their innate value as human beings. 

This is what LIVING UNITED looks like. Community coming together for the benefit of individuals, which of course, benefits us all.


2021 Day of Caring Report

Saturday, April 17th turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, but that didn’t stop 146 volunteers from bringing their families, friends and coworkers to three Clatsop County sites to clean up, plant and rebuild at parks and nonprofits. 

The 2021 Day of Caring, hosted by United Way of Clatsop County was truly a community event. Supplies donated by the Home Depot Foundation in combination with funds from TLC/Fibre Federal Credit Union, Providence Seaside Hospital, Columbia Memorial Hospital, NW Natural and Arbonne Independent Consultant Cathy Jo Kirkpatrick were used to pick up trash (11 large, 18 medium & 41 small bags donated by SOLVE Oregon), clear storm debris, clean cabins, power wash structures, weed, plant, rebuild garden beds & install ADA pavers at Railroad Community Gardens in Seaside, Camp Kiwanilong in Warrenton and Hilltop Apartments in Astoria.

Sites were chosen based on COVID-safe opportunities to improve outdoor areas. Volunteers stayed outside, wore masks and remained socially distant from other volunteers throughout the event.

They worked hard, but with refreshments provided by US Foods, snacks from Astoria Co+Op and Natural Grocers and sandwiches provided by Subway, volunteers were treated to warm weather, good food and a sense of community that has been hard to come by this last year. 

Site #1 benefited 22 residents of Hilltop Apartments, a low-income apartment complex owned by Clatsop Community Action. Residents, including two veterans, are now enjoying a beautiful outdoor space with English Lavender, bright yellow marigolds and white astilbe.

Project Site #2, Camp Kiwanilong, boasted the most unique clean up activity which included canoes on the Camp’s beloved Long Lake. Camp employees believe a beaver has been gnawing on the styrofoam dock floats causing debris to spread across the lake for a number of months. Water-loving volunteers skimmed the lake of trash while their land-loving counterparts cleaned up branches from the February ice storm, spring cleaned camp cabins and power washed outbuildings and docks. Registration is open for a DAY CAMP Summer Youth Program at —happening this year despite COVID! Other groups also use this beautiful, rustic space for conventions and meetings including civic and veteran groups. 

The largest project at site #3, Railroad Community Gardens in Seaside was moving 40 yards of hog fuel donated by Nygaard Logging. Volunteers shoveled, dug, carted, dumped and raked the material into pathways between garden beds. The material–somewhat like bark dust, will act as a weed control and also add cushion for gardeners on their knees. ADA pavers were also installed for a more equitable gardening opportunity and new hoses were attached to water pumps for site gardeners.

The 53-plot gardens are run by Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District (SEPRD), and are still taking applications for gardeners. Approximately 10% of garden bed renters are veterans, an underserved demographic in Clatsop County.

Each Day of Caring volunteer site produced a significant amount of debris being collected by Recology, administrative costs were covered by Georgia Pacific/Wauna Mill, and the altruism keeps going as community members also donated over 16 large boxes of “essential items” for nonprofit clients– including food, baby supplies, personal care items and new clothing collected at volunteer sites as well as the Barbey Center at Columbia River Maritime Museum.

The 2021 Day of Caring turned out to be truly that…a day where the compassion we have for our community was able to shine. Thank you to everyone involved!


Astoria Co-Op
Cathy Jo Kirkpatrick
Independent Arbonne Consultant

 A special thank you to Arthur Koustik at Home Depot, Viviana Matthews and Megan McCall at CCA, Robyn Koustik at K&M Yard Maintenance, Skyler Archibald and Levi Conner at Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District, Amy Koch at Camp Kiwanilong and Day of Caring Committee Members Katrina Gasser, Cathy Jo Kirkpatrick and Kelsey Hix. None of this would have happened without you!