Our Early History

Our Early History

1971—The Next Door started when a farmhouse on the corner of May and 11th Street in Hood River was rented to house ten teenage foster children, boys and girls. Many of the youth were placed at The Next Door directly from the mental health system. Dr. Paul Hamada, an internist in town with experience in psychiatry, served as our first medical director. During our first seven years, three directors helped dozens of young people live in the house as they went to public schools in town. Jim Klahre, Dana Lance, Johnny Duckwall and others served as dedicated board members.

1975—Housing for All, a separate non-profit, was formed to assist the Next Door with real estate needs. Glenn Taylor, a local real estate agent, served as the President of Housing for All’s board for many years. The old farmhouse was purchased and in 1987 it was named the Klahre House, after The Next Door’s founding Board Chairman. A pillar and bronze plaque at Klahre House memorializes Jim Klahre’s contribution to youth in Hood River County.

1978—Jerry Brown took the reigns of the Next Door. He brought more structure to the program, making sure staff members were trained and youth were supervised. During this time, Colin Wood was the Treatment Director for the youth. The house now only served boys who were increasingly referred by the juvenile justice system.

Jerry also helped the youth organize a party company, Impulse Productions, which held dances at the local Elks Club to raise money for their own recreational expenses. Jerry worked to get the program accredited by the youth care association. Board members frequently went to Salem to lobby on The Next Door’s behalf for funding support. People from other organizations around the state would come to visit as ours was considered a model program.

1984—Services began in The Dalles. Our foster homes provided crisis shelter for runaway and homeless youth who were picked up by local law enforcement.

1987—The board hired Michael Mehling as The Next Door’s new Executive Director. Michael wanted the program, now a 12 bed residential home for boys, to not be dependent solely on state funding. He wanted our organization to serve as more of a community partner. Michael began expanding services with the support of the community.

Michael was a firm believer in outdoor activities. He had a ropes course and taught the youth to rappel, which he used as a metaphor for change; fearing, then trusting, then acting—resulting in a clear difference from when one started at the top of the cliff. He also valued the therapeutic use of music, poetry and storytelling.

1991—The Next Door made a significant move toward incorporating broader programming when New Parent Services (NPS), a volunteer run program, joined TNDI. This program was based on the Healthy Start model of providing home visiting for first time parents who need additional support. Billie Stevens, Nancy Johanson Paul, Carolyn Bondurant, Gloria Martin and Joann Wittenberg had started NPS at the OSU Extension office in 1989.

1994A crisis shelter program for youth in juvenile court and merged with the Community Attention Home, located in The Dalles, into The Next Door. This was a group home for foster children with a house parent on the premises. Jim Roth, Wasco County Juvenile Department Director, provided support and supervision to this program.

The Klahre House also changed from a residential treatment facility into a co-ed therapeutic foster care program. Youth began living in specially trained foster homes and coming to the Klahre House for treatment and schooling during the day.

1995—Families First of Wasco & Sherman Counties, which had started in 1994 as a program of La Clinica del Cariño, joined The Next Door. Families First provided the same Healthy Start services as New Parent Services. It was around this time that The Next Door started providing Independent Living services to foster teens.

1999—The Community Attention Home in The Dalles closed due to state regulatory requirements, and foster homes replaced the group home. This program, funded by the Department of Human Services, is still coordinated through The Next Door and still called the Community Attention Home even though it is no longer one home but many.

See our Recent History for more information