Welcome to Eugene

   If you’ve worked in the nonprofit world in and around Lane County, Oregon for any period, then it is a pretty good bet that you’ve heard the name Sarah Koski. She’s been involved at various levels of human services across the Willamette Valley and has built an impressive resume of service to the community. Her work recently earned her recognition from the Oregon Commission for Women (OCFW), which honored Koski with its Emerging Leader Award. She also was recognized as a hero for marginalized communities in “Mighty Women of Oregon,” a feature in the winter 2024 issue of Oregon Quarterly magazine. Her work in Lane County includes serving at St. Vincent de Paul in a variety of roles including case manager, community partner, and most recently as a volunteer!Sarah A. Koski award




Sarah took her first steps toward community leadership when she came to Eugene by way of Salem to study politics at the University of Oregon. She was already working with grassroots advocacy groups such as the League of Women Voters and continued that work while studying toward her degree. After graduating in 2006 she spent a decade working with various nonprofit organizations around the area.

Introduction to St. Vincent de Paul

Her introduction to St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP) came when she requested a tour of the Dusk to Dawn congregate shelter site to learn more about SVdP’s homeless service programs. During the tour she met the woman who would eventually become SVdP’s Executive Director, Bethany Cartledge.

Sarah’s experiences led to consulting and working on an international level. After the isolation of COVID-19 Sarah left remote work to become executive director of Love for Lane County — where she was quickly thrown into the fires when the Holiday Farm Fire struck in 2020. At that time her organization would come alongside SVdP as both groups worked to provide relief to those devastated by fire damage.

“We at Love for Lane County were one of the first metro-based citizens outside of FEMA to come in film including documentary style drone-work,” says Koski, recalling her experience during the natural disaster. “We created content to produce for those community trusts and those community groups, to bring to banks and large-scale funders and say, ‘Hey, this is truly what’s going on. Here is the voice and the pulse of this community.’”

Sarah would later use that disaster response experience during a community-wide “heat dome” event in 2022 when multiple agencies including SVdP had to respond to a more than week-long heat wave impacting Eugene-Springfield area residents. At that time Sarah was working as the leading chair with Lane County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD), the first collaborative team of its kind in Oregon to respond to the needs of the unhoused during a disaster.

“What that did was it opened significant doors for us to tell our story and to tell the story of, yes, disaster response is important; getting ready and prepared is important, but it can’t just be for those with means and houses — it needs to be for all of us as a community.”

Case management at 410

Following these experiences in disaster response, Sarah began advocating for those in poverty on various gubernatorial task forces, but she quickly realized that the person she was becoming was not the grassroots “Sarah A. Koski” she had been and still wanted to be.

“I reached out to Bethany Cartledge and said ‘look, if there is an opportunity, put me in the deepest corner of homeless services,’” she says.

Soon after that conversation Sarah joined SVdP as a case manager at the 410 Garfield Safe Sleep Site. She recalls many positive memories and connections made both with staff and clients through that experience.

“I had one woman who had significant orthopedic needs,” she recalls. “We partnered her with a private donor that got her orthopedic shoes, and she was dancing around the site. Not because she received shoes that were perfectly tailored to her feet, but because she had two pairs of shoes.”

Volunteering with EGAN

Following her time at 410 Sarah took a 10-month sabbatical to process and journal about her experiences on the frontlines of homeless outreach. Fast forward to today, Sarah is now working for Lane Transit District (LTD) as its community resource liaison, a brand-new position created to be a resource for internal staff and be a homeless advisor and advocate. Through that role Sarah has been able to act as a hub and connector between various local organizations working in human services. In her role, Sarah has also worked with another SVdP-administered program, Egan Warming Centers.

“LTD has been a strong partner with SVdP,” she says, “and that leads us to the work with Egan and our partnership, which allows people to get to cooling centers and Egan Warming Centers free of charge.”

Inspired by the work of Egan volunteers and SVdP staff during the January ice storm, Sarah decided to step out of her normal role with LTD and into a volunteer role with Egan. She volunteered for the first time with the program during Egan’s last activation in early March 2024.

“I had the honor and privilege to do my first volunteer position. My life is forever changed,” she says. “I know without a shadow of a doubt I will continue to volunteer with Egan on the transportation side. What an experience.”

SVdP is thankful for community partners such as LTD and the amazing individuals such as Sarah A. Koski