Small Company, Big Heart: Pest Management Business an Important ShelterCare Partner

Fisher Pest Management, Inc. and Rick’s Spray Service provide pest management solutions for business/commercial, residential, institutional, governmental, public and agricultural facilities in Lane County.

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They also do important work for ShelterCare.

“Being a small company, we wanted to do something that would positively impact as many families as possible,” said Steve Fisher, company president. “We think that ShelterCare gives us that opportunity, and we enjoy being able to do this volunteer work.”

Over the years, the business has helped ShelterCare clients work through complicated pest management issues, free of charge.

“Where some nonprofit organizations provide specialty needs, ShelterCare provides a broad spectrum of services, most important of which is housing,” Fisher said. “Keeping living accommodations pest free has a positive effect on all of us, and hopefully provides more comfort for those who need an uplift in their lives. “

The company’s generosity is matched by its versatility, as it provides services for turf and ornamental plants, small fruit and nut orchards and commercial and agricultural vegetation management (weed control). They are also one of the few companies licensed in the area to do fumigation for wood-boring insects in furniture and structures.

Giving back to the community is an important piece of the company’s philosophy, Fisher said.

“Collectively speaking, the Eugene/Springfield business and residential community has been very good to our company,” he said. “Through my interactions with customers, my Rotary Club and my church, I saw the strong commitment and concern that members of our communities have, not only for the providing agencies, but for the people who are in need.  I decided that I wanted to be a part of this positive force in our communities.  By volunteering my services, I hope that some of the financial load is lightened, allowing resources to be allocated for other needs. “

ShelterCare has been a good partner to work with, he said.

“I want to commend ShelterCare maintenance and location staff personnel for their cooperation and support with our pest management efforts,” Fisher said. “We have faced some challenging and demanding situations that we were able to successfully conclude with their help.  We thank them immensely.”

Not ‘Someone Else’s Problem:’ One ShelterCare Supporter’s Journey of Giving


For most of his life, Caine O’Brien admits he wouldn’t have considered himself much of a nonprofit “giver.”

While engaged in a successful technology sector career — first with microprocessors in the 1970s and 1980s and then software since the 1990s — social service support wasn’t a high priority.

“I never really thought about social needs. I thought that was more a responsibility for the government,” he said. While he would support church-related activities and showed generosity in other ways, he admits he was skeptical of giving to the nonprofit sector. “What kept me from giving was cynicism about how much money went to overhead in some organizations.”

As a resident of Lane County since 2008 after moving from Portland, he also felt frustration about the level of visible homelessness on the streets in Eugene. “I was as annoyed by panhandlers as anyone in Eugene could be.”

And then, last year, a turning point: someone he cared about was diagnosed with mental illness and was living on the street. The shaking of his voice and the tears welling in his eyes as he told this story made it clear — he had a new and visceral understanding of how good people can end up homeless. This time, “someone else’s problem,” as O’Brien put it, hit home.

“It made me look at every one of those people I saw on the street differently,” he said. “It changed my perspective of who the homeless are and who they have the potential to be.”

Armed with a new appreciation for the challenges faced by some community members, O’Brien decided to invest in the local social service network in a systematic way.

“I set out to identify services that to me minimized the waste that nonprofits can sometimes carry, as well as organizations that weren’t overrun with corporate influence,” he said. “And I wanted my donation to produce concrete and tangible results, and not get lost in the bureaucratic pot.”

Devoting time, energy and research to the effort, he determined ShelterCare fit this bill. Soon after, he designated his donation to the agency’s Shankle Residence, which provides a safe environment (housing, food, clothing and clinical support) for adults with psychiatric disabilities who are chronically homeless.

“If you just start thinking about basic rights and basic things that people should have in their lives, it’s pretty hard to argue with food and shelter,” O’Brien said. "You can't really expect people struggling to meet their survival needs to be worried about much else.”

Now semi-retired, O’Brien is ready to do something different. While this may include hobbies such as mountain biking, travel, working in the garden and playing music (piano), he is also hoping to help build a stronger community.

“I’m as much of a ‘pull-yourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps’ guy as I know,” he says. “I've created most of what I have, and I give thanks for that. And I do expect that of others. But now I know firsthand from someone dear to me that homelessness is not always their fault. This experience brought a level of compassion and understanding that I didn’t have before.  Now I wonder how we can help more people.”


Community Involvement Big Part of Dari Mart History

Dari Mart employs more than 400 people in 45 stores throughout Lane, Linn and Benton counties. It also supports local companies while donating to countless community organizations every year — including ShelterCare.

ShelterCare House Banks

Last month, the company helped ShelterCare raise money by hosting our blue "house banks" in their stores throughout Springfield and Eugene. They collected $4,992.31 to support our "I ShelterCare about Homelessness" campaign. Considering Dari Mart's history of community investment, this isn't surprising.

"We are very active in our community. Most of what we do is unknown to the community at-large but is important to our family," said Kathy Gibson, vice president of operations, marketing and public relations for Dari Mart. "My grandparents were actively involved, which taught their children the importance (of involvement). We have to be here for our community and give back. We are fortunate to have the opportunities that we have and it is our responsibility to give back."

Her grandparents, Howard and Gladys Gibson, first started what would become Dari Mart in 1941 when they purchased 120 acres four miles north of Junction City. They worked the land and raised livestock, and soon, they had a dairy farm with 100 cows and five young children. Eventually, products produced on the farm would become the backbone of the business. 

Howard and Gladys Gibson

"We are a family owned, vertically integrated company with a farm, dairy, processing plant and 45 convenience stores," Kathy said. "We sell a wide range of conventional convenience store fare as well as healthy choice items that are made in our own central kitchen. We also have our own milk and ice cream that is from farm-to-table in 48 hours."

Kathy said she supports the mission of ShelterCare very much.

"I support ShelterCare's long-term solution approach versus the bandage short-term approach," she said. "Both are important and serve a purpose, but I think we need more preventative methods to help fight homelessness."


Donor Profile: Pam Whyte and Ron Saylor

Pam and RonPam Whyte and Ron Saylor are not Eugene natives but their lives have been woven into the fabric of the Whiteaker neighborhood in which they make their home.

Both took roundabout roads to Eugene. Ron arrived in 1966 from California. His parents pushed him toward the University of Oregon, hoping to “rescue him” from Berkeley. Despite their efforts, he was drawn into the politics of the era, eventually earning a master’s degree in political science—though “with a paintbrush in my hand,” he explains, referring to the trade that paid his bills and led to the launch of Saylor Painting Company.

Ohio native Pam started school at the University of South Florida, but arrived in Eugene in 1975 on a one-year student exchange program. She decided to stick with the U of O, somehow convincing the registrar’s office she was eligible for in-state tuition. She earned a marketing degree but was not interested in marketing, so pursued a career in accounting. The move paid off; today she’s a partner in the firm of Emge & Whyte.

Pam and Ron connected with each other in 1979. By this time, Ron had purchased a small house, which they still own, in the Whiteaker neighborhood. They also own other properties in the area and Saylor Painting is headquartered just a three-block walk from their home. To say that they enjoy living in Whiteaker is an understatement. When you hear them talk about the river and the parks and the restaurants and the breweries, you realize just how much they love their neighborhood.

Pam and Ron also love and care about their neighbors, and that includes members of the community who are homeless—which is why donating money to ShelterCare is so logical for them.

“We are interested in supporting a vibrant, vital, and healthy community,” Pam explained. “We are also interested in fighting homelessness and giving people the tools they need to get off the streets.”

Emge and WhyteProving their commitment to the community, Pam and Ron have been loyal ShelterCare donors for many years, supporting various seasonal appeals, the “I ShelterCare about Homelessness” campaign, and the capital campaign that financed ShelterCare’s new Whiteaker-based Center for Programs and Services.

Pam and Ron wholeheartedly agree that their participation in the capital campaign was as much an investment in the neighborhood as it was in ShelterCare. In part, they were happy to welcome a new neighbor that transformed an old warehouse into an attractive and valuable community resource. But they also stressed that ShelterCare needed this new building to “make the agency whole” and help sustain its important work of housing Eugene’s homeless.

“It feels good knowing that there is a place where people can go for help, to meet their basic needs, and end the cycle of homelessness,” Ron explained.