By Justin Aufdermauer
Last week our newest employee Alexander Jonas arrived from Tallahassee, Fla. He traded in 88-degrees, sunshine and restaurants where alligator is a common menu item, for the Tillamook Coast where he will serve as our Housing Policy and Development Coordinator.
Alexander is a recent graduate from Florida State where he studied political science and international affairs with a focus on economics. During his last year, he was introduced to the RARE program and decided to jump on board as a way to fine tune the skills and expertise he learned in college, and help a community in need.
RARE is an AmeriCorps program administered through the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement, which assists Oregon communities by providing planning and technical assistance to help solve local issues and improve the quality of life for Oregon residents. Its mission is to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their economic, social, and environmental conditions, through the assistance of trained graduate-level participants who live and work in communities for 11 months. Participants assist communities and agencies in the development and implementation of plans for achieving a sustainable natural resource base and improving rural economic conditions while gaining community building and leadership skills.
Alexander interviewed with five different rural communities all with unique issues, and was matched with the Tillamook Chamber. We are excited to have him on our team and get started towards finding a solution for workforce housing in the city of Tillamook.
Ironically, Alexander had some trouble finding a place to live while making his travel arrangements, and was able to secure a room just two days before his plane landed. No doubt this is a familiar situation to some of you, when you hire a professional from outside the area but they have to turn the job down due to the lack of housing. Alexander got to experience this first hand – a poetic introduction to his new job as our Housing Policy and Development Coordinator where he will help identify the reasons for the housing crisis and do what he can to help mitigate the effects and eventually put Tillamook in a better position to solve that crisis.
When asked why he decided to participate in the RARE program, Alexander said “It was a good opportunity to gain some work experience and potential successes as well as checking out a beautiful part of the country I had never seen.”
Over the next several weeks I will be introducing Alexander to the community and hope you will help him feel welcome and give him the resources, tools and information he needs to be successful. We will also be sharing more about the specifics of Alexander’s scope of work, and why we at the Chamber and our members felt compelled to offer a helping hand in solving the housing crisis.