Two weeks after the horrific shooting at Umpqua Community College in which nine were killed and nine wounded, Mark Yaconelli was contacted by The Ford Family Foundation. “In the midst of the shock and pain of the October 1, 2015 tragedy, there was this generous, creative, compassionate response by local community members. The question was could The Hearth design a project that would collect and archive these stories so that the memory of this tragedy wasn’t only the violence and grief, but also the many acts of generosity and kindness that sought to bring healing.”

The Umpqua Story Project was formed with the purpose of providing compassionate settings where people across the Umpqua Valley could share their experiences of kindness in the wake of the tragedy. The project trained fifteen volunteers in compassionate listening, set up tables in coffee shops, libraries, schools and other public spaces across Douglas County and invited people to share their responses to the shooting at UCC. In addition to providing opportunities for the public to record their experiences, the project sent out staff members to record stories from individuals who had reacted to the tragedy with particular generosity and creativity.

Stories collected by The Umpqua Story Project will be presented to the public in three formats:

We are UCC: True Tales of Kindness. This live storytelling event held on October 8th from 7 to 9pm at Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli, the evening will present six local community members from Douglas County who will share their own experience of generosity and compassion in the wake of the October 1 tragedy. Tellers include Kelly Wright (Victim’s Advocate from the District Attorney’s office), Justin Troxel (welder who raised over $140,000 for victim families), Susan Rochester (Chair of Fine Arts at UCC), Dustin Cosby (photographer and coordinator of memorial vigil held on night of tragedy), Casey O’Toole (co-owner of O’Toole’s Pub who hosted fundraiser night and gatherings for first responders), and others. Local musicians will also perform at the event. Admission is $3 suggested donation.

The Umpqua Story Exhibit. Written stories, images, and audio recordings collected by The Umpqua Story Project will be presented at The Whipple Fine Arts Gallery at Umpqua Community College from October 1 through October 23. The gallery is open Monday-Friday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free. There will be a special opening on October 8th from 5 to 7pm as part of the live storytelling event, We Are UCC: True Tales of Kindness at Jacoby Auditorium.

Staff and volunteers spent well over 100 hours collecting over 250 local stories — both written and recorded. Curated by Susan Rochester, Fine Arts Chair at Umpqua Community College, the exhibit will be interactive, inviting the public to contribute their own stories of kindness experienced in the wake of the tragedy.

WWW.UmpquaStoryProject.Com. A new website has been launched presenting a collection of personal stories collected in the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College. Focused on the many acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion that took place in response to the tragedy, the website presents audio interviews, photographs, and experiences written by community members across Douglas County.

“When you listen and read the stories on the website you notice this pattern. At first people felt this deep pain and shock and then there is this need to respond, ‘What can I give? How can I help ease the suffering?’ A welder begins selling signs. Restaurants donate food. Some high school students set up a car wash. Tattoo artists donate work. Hundreds of people donated money, time, and sweat. No one can replace the lives that were lost, no one can erase the horror and pain…but what these stories reveal is that pain and suffering is not the only reality. In the midst of suffering there is also incredible compassion and kindness and love. That’s the deeper truth. That’s the deeper reality.”