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Purpose Prize Fellow 2010
Hughes is turning a once territorial social service culture in eastern Oregon into an organized community working together to meet the needs of underserved populations.
When Dave Hughes joined Agape House as its executive director in 2002, the small nonprofit was disorganized and underfunded. He brought a fresh vision that turned the organization into a leader in the community.
Before joining Agape House, based in Hermiston, Ore., Hughes owned a real estate appraisal business. So he was able to draw from his business skills to strengthen the nonprofit, which delivers food, clothing and other resources to those in need; develops programs to promote self-sufficiency; and helps strengthen other small nonprofits.
Hughes’ strategy is simple: “I set out to build partnerships with other organizations to better serve the needs in our community.”
Despite hesitancy from board members and an entrenched culture of “go it alone” in the nonprofit community, Hughes developed partnerships with the local community action organization, the Oregon Food Bank and Blue Mountain Community College.
Others began to follow the trend: The police department partnered with Agape House on a Christmas toy drive; the local alternative high school joined forces with Agape House to teach students the value of community service; and two organizations came together with Agape House on a project to provide school lunches to hungry kids. Through a thrift store partnership with the Blue Mountain Community College JOBS Program, approximately 60 people a year are employed.
Among the many programs Agape House has developed to improve the ability of nonprofits to accomplish their missions is a resource seminar that provides training in community awareness, board responsibilities and funding.