2023 AMAZING NEIGHBORS - Prineville/Crook County
Hometown: Prineville/Crook County
Why she is an Amazing Neighbor:
Donna Barnes encourages others to participate and volunteer with projects that promote wellness in her hometown and build a sense of community and friendships
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
Focus on community, wellness and volunteerism.
The demand for volunteers is a given in every community in Oregon, and they are the backbone behind community projects, food pantries, wellness programs, and programs that benefit their localities.
Donna Barnes has been volunteering since 2008, for her business career and for causes that she has been passionate about ever since. Her sunny personality and collaborative nature inspire others to volunteer and participate in community events and bring people together as the community of Prineville grows.
Barnes strongly advocates for the local community and gives back by participating in activities, organizations, and projects promoting wellness.
“It is something I did because it helped me learn my job better, create relationships and build the economy and the community,” she remarked of her initial involvement during her career with Ochoco Lumber and Ochoco Dental. During this period, she was a member of the Rotary Club of Crook County, Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), and Central Oregon Business Council. She served as a board member and president of Crook County Foundation, and the Prineville/Crook County Economic Development. She was on the planning committee for Prineville Paddy Pint Run and F.L.I.P.P. (Friends living in Prineville and Powell Butte).
After she retired for the first time from Ochoco Lumber, she became more involved in Crook County on The Move.
Five years ago, Crook County on the Move (CCOTM), a program of Crook County Foundation, created an alliance of organizations and citizens to break down siloed efforts to collectively combat chronic disease, obesity, and debilitating stress in Crook County.
Barnes emphasized that creating a healthy lifestyle is not just about physical activity. It takes all three focus areas that Crook County on The Move uses: keep moving, be nourished, and stay refreshed. She emphasized that community belonging and getting to know new people is also a big focus.
“At first glance, CCOTM walking groups are about moving more,” added Barnes. “But really, they were designed to bring people together, to make new friends, explore new ways to improve our health goals in a fun way and find that support group that we all need. CCOTM creates community through its network weaving – bringing organization and community members together to fulfill passions that create more opportunities to stay healthy together.”
“Our little group of friends that make up FLIPP does this in very small way. We have our annual garage sale to raise funds for a good cause, we participate in community cleanup events together, and we join benefit walks as a team. We celebrate the little things together and support neighbors in need whether we know them or not.”
When CCOTM created forums with speakers from organizations like Portland State University, they discussed age-friendly communities.
“It kind of opened our eyes to the fact that we had walking trails, but those with limited mobility couldn’t walk because there was nowhere to sit,” she pointed out.
Through this, in partnership with the Crook County Rotary, Crook County Parks and Recreation, with funding from St. Charles, AARP, Pacific Power, and many others, more than 60 benches were purchased and placed along public trails like Ochoco Creek and the Crook County Wetlands.
“These are now utilized by our recent walking groups,” Barnes added.
In addition to the walking groups, CCOTM has subgroups that help with projects like nutritional security and grant studies for the region, exploring ways to expand the local Meal and Wheels program, hosting cooking socials, and organizing a Share The Bounty program during the gardening season. CCOTM partnered with the Crook County GIS, Crook County Library, Bowman Museum, and other locals to create digital maps that explore Prineville by walking or biking.
The feedback has been incredibly positive from native community members and those who have moved to Prineville and are looking to network and meet new people.
Barnes notes enthusiastically, “The comments we get back include, ‘I met the nicest people, and had the best conversations.’ These comments come back to us during the walking groups, the cooking events and our garden party. That is the one resounding message that comes back—I just love meeting people and making new friends.”’