Founded in 1973, Sponsors began when Sister Janice Jackson, along with other Catholic nuns and community volunteers, “sponsored” young men exiting the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI). These “Sponsors” met them at the gate upon their release and assisted them in finding shelter, employment, and helping in social readjustment.
In its early years the agency experienced financial difficulties. In 1987 Sponsors received a Meyer Memorial Trust grant and in 1988, hired a new director, Ron Chase. At that time, Sponsors began its housing program with 5 transitional beds. Between 1988 and 2010, Sponsors grew exponentially, meeting increasingly diverse needs for people with criminal histories. The agency partnered with parole officers, treatment providers, and a myriad of collateral agencies. Sponsors has also developed positive relationships with numerous local employers and property managers to further the goals of the agency.
The program has been recognized as a model for reentry services; employing best practices and effective
programs to serve its clients. In 1992, the Oregon Housing and Community Services Agency recognized Sponsors with its non-profit “Excellence in Community Services” award. In 1995 Sponsors was selected by the Oregon Department of Corrections as its Outstanding Private Contractor of the Year.
In 2005, Sponsors was presented with the “2005 Award of Merit” by the Oregon Coalition of Housing & Homelessness” at its statewide conference. Sponsors was cited for making a “significant contribution in increasing and providing services to the homeless.”
In 2011 Sponsors Men’s Transitions Program migrated to a new 6 million dollar facility at Roosevelt Crossing, which houses 74 clients. In 2011, Sponsors appointed a new executive director, Paul Solomon, who has worked in different capacities for Sponsors since 2001. Today, Sponsors has 12 buildings on six sites, including a total of 145 client beds.
In March of 2013 Sponsors celebrated 40 years of providing reentry services in Lane County. Events to mark the occasion included a prisoner art show displayed in three local galleries, a gala fundraiser held on the UO campus and collaboration on a series of events with the Eugene Opera, the University of Oregon and the Eugene Public Library.
In March 2014 Sponsors open the doors on an additional women’s facility: Bothy Cottage, which houses the RISE Program. This program is unique in the state of Oregon and reunites mothers and children after a period of incarceration.
Every year Sponsors helps over 500 people reenter our community to become productive, law-abiding, hardworking and tax-paying citizens.