Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Leave the Lights On!

With the recent order from the Governor to freeze – just 2 weeks ago – and now moving into yet another two weeks of the same, I have to say I have been feeling a bit low in spirit and stuck in the mud. I am sure that you were likely feeling dismayed as well.

No matter your perspective, it has been a dark year for most of us in many ways. I know I needed to shed some light on the situation. So I dug out the Christmas lights!

It’s been several years since I have had the pleasure of hanging the outdoor Christmas lights and I am glowing over the fact they have been up already for two weeks. Yep! Five strands and 1500 tiny bulbs of light-up joy.

Indoor decorating is now underway, as well, after having found the perfect – but way too big, what were we thinking – Christmas tree in the woods behind Mt. Ashland. I am pondering what furniture I can live without to make way for it. Since I am not one to be daunted by much, I will make it fit!

Now that we have rounded Thanksgiving and moved beyond Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, let’s plug in all of our holiday lights and leave them on!

Personally, I think Giving Tuesday ought to come before all the other aforementioned days.  It is after all, the season for giving and much more rewarding to give than to receive. And no doubt, there are a lot of needs in our communities right now.

I loved what Chris and Jim McCann, Founder and CEO of – the parent company of our own signature company Harry & David (and 14 other brands) – had to say earlier this week. I’d like to share an excerpt here from their “Celebrations Pulse” Sunday letter about The Giving Ladder.

For those of us who need some brushing up on biblical history (that would be me, Jim) our friend and Board Member, Adam Hanft, reminded us of a description of charity by the 12th century Jewish scholar and physician, Maimonides. Take a moment to read this and see how profound it was. So profound they named a hospital after him.

Maimonides wrote a code of Jewish law based on the Rabbinic oral tradition, and he described charity (or “tzedakah”) from the least to the most honorable as follows:

8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than they should but does so cheerfully.
6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. When the recipient is aware of the donor’s identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.
3. When the donor is aware of the recipient’s identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

I mentioned that I had been feeling a little down in the dumps, even though SOREDI has had the privilege of lighting up the hopes of a few businesses.  About 300 businesses actually, in the last few months with small grants funded through many local jurisdictions and Business Oregon. Grants totaling more than $1.5 million.  Yet even that seemed like just a flicker of light given our business community and the livelihood of so many are in dire need.

 More light is on the way! Gratefully, more than $3.6 million in additional grant funding has been allocated to Jackson and Josephine County by the State of Oregon, and SOREDI staff is privileged again to help administer those grants. Stay tuned for the specifics of these funds later this week. 

Gratefully, I came across a timely scripture about the leader of the Israelites, found in Joshua 7:10. Joshua had seemingly grown weary and began to doubt the providence of God as he went into battle. There was a lot of grumbling in the troops – and some unsavory behavior. The verse reads: “So the Lord said to Joshua, Rise up! Why have you fallen on your face?”.

I was on my face a few weeks ago. Maybe I was just tired from the long days. Maybe I should have had more coffee that day – it is not like we do not have great options for coffee here in Southern Oregon!  But here is the thing about being on your face and frozen in place – you cannot see all the good that is going on around you and you can’t see all the lights.

All is not lost! We have much to be grateful for, which I believe includes the amazing providence of God and a resilient, giving community.

The entire Sunday letter I referenced can be read here.

 After you read it, take some time to shop at Harry & David. Who doesn’t light up when they receive a box of truffles or baklava!

I also hope you make a plan to view the Christmas Lights on Midway, a festive drive through light affair for all at the Josephine County Fairgrounds Dec. 4 – January 2, or the tree lighting in Rogue River on Saturday, December 5.

Since you might opt to stay at home for a few more weeks yet, please also consider a unique gift from Ashland here:  And, check out the shops in Jacksonville here:

Whether you venture out or stay at home, let’s leave the lights on. A few things may seem dim today, but Southern Oregon still has a bright future.



Colleen Padilla, Executive Director

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