By Randy Robbins
Melanie Caldera, a case worker at Oasis Shelter Home, adjusts the microphone on the stage of KhunThai restaurant in downtown Brookings. The restaurant is packed with people Saturday who came because they care.
They are here because they agree: there is a problem out there. A big one.
“Thank you for coming tonight and for your hearts for victims of domestic and sexual violence,” says Caldera, impressed by the turn out.
Oasis Shelter Home has long been a beacon of freedom for those who suffer at the hands of abuse. It has been a place of refuge in Curry County for more than 25 years.
Their mission statement: “Through shelter, advocacy, and education, we empower victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and resulting homelessness, to achieve a life free from abuse.”
The shindig Saturday, entitled “Banding Together for a Cause’,”offered up Thai food, some live honky-tonk rock courtesy The Italian Guys and an energetic violinist in Connie Houston.
Houston vigorously saws away at her violin. Hoots, hollers and whistles erupt with clapping and foot stomping. The vibe is good, laughter abounds as old friends recognize each other and update each other.
As steaming dishes or recipes from far away places are served a large tip jar up front starts to fill as a woman who works in Brooking’s health care industry takes the mike from Caldera to share her story. Donna explains she was finishing up her job for the day in the medical offices adjacent Fred Meyers where she works. She decided to walk the short distance to the super center.
Crossing the parking lot she says she first became aware of “the unsettling upsetting sound” of an angry man yelling a woman’s name, “Mary. Where the hell are you?” His voice was no nonsense and menacing in its scope and intent.
“He was clearly both imposing and scary,” she said.
At about that same time, Donna spied a frightened woman hunkered down and hiding from the man between parked cars. Mary was clearly terrified and trying to escape the abusive man who was stalking her like an animal.
Thinking quickly, Donna speed dialed Melanie, whom she was friends with, explaining what was transpiring before her.
“Within minutes law enforcement had been notified and Melanie was on the spot comforting Mary and giving her the option of coming to Oasis House with her,” she said.
Donna says Mary was “initially afraid to go anywhere with a complete stranger” but as Melanie explained her destination if she chose to go there would be a safe space where she would have a place to sleep, food and tools to get free from her abuser, Mary agreed to leave with Melanie to find her own personal oasis. A place of refuge from her desert of pain.
Today that woman, like countless others, has a new lease on life.
These are the kinds of situations Oasis is involved with everyday. Giving hope to the hopeless; lifting up the down trodden.
In 2018, Oasis provided 3,839 bed nights and took 3,907 calls, of which 1,811 were domestic violence, 205 sexual assaults, 46 stalkings, and 227 others categorized as non-emergency.
According to Oasis figures for the same year, 271 families in Curry County were served with children staying overnight 511 times and pets were allowed to stay with them 330 times. The average stay at the shelter is 43 days.
The Oasis Shelter Home has 15 beds,two full bathrooms, two laundry rooms and a playroom complete with toys and games and is the only emergency shelter between Crescent City and Coos Bay, serving the 22,000 people of Curry County.
The group at Oasis also provides holiday food baskets to help needy families who are food insecure.
Caldera says the shelter home subsists largely on donations, monetary and goods. If you would like to support Oasis, you can contact them at 541-425-5238.
If you are someone in a domestic violence or sexual assault, sex trafficking, or abusive relationship and you need immediate help, contact the Oasis Shelter Home CRISIS line 1-800-447-1167. You can also check out their web page on Facebook.