First Story would not be where it is today without the passion and dedication of founder Hayden Watson. Robert and Virginia Watson, founders of Hayden Homes, taught their son the importance of building a successful home building company and about the spirit of generosity. Virginia believed we should live in a world where we give more than we get and that philosophy became the inspiration behind First Story.
In 1998, as a way to honor his father and mother, Hayden started First Story. The non-profit began by giving direct donations to charitable causes in towns and cities across the Pacific Northwest. But, Hayden’s vision was bigger than that, and in 2002 First Story collaborated with Hayden Homes to build the very first grant house.
Today, First Story addresses the affordable housing crisis with an integrated approach that gives individuals a hand up to homeownership while encouraging inclusivity. The nonprofit collaborates with builder Hayden Homes to construct homes in their communities which are then sold through First Story's loan program. This unique approach, that avoids segregated housing, provides move-in ready homes to qualified applicants who are at or below 80% area median income.
For over 20 years, the nonprofit has supported other community partners through its giving grant program. To date nearly 700 charities who are providing shelter, food and advocacy services to families in crisis have received over $1.6M from First Story.
First Story's mission is to promote giving and inspire communities through the creation of
homeownership opportunities and financial support.
Our vision is to change lives.
Caleb Anderson, President - Broker, Cascade Sotheby's International Realty
Hayden Watson, Founder - President, Watson Companies
Alicia Moore, Secretary - Vice President for Student Affairs, COCC
Stephanie Alvstad, Treasurer - CEO/President, J Bar J Youth Services
Members at Large
Claire Duncan - Executive Director, First Story
Tim Knopp - Oregon State Senator and Executive Vice President, COBA
Scott Knox - President, Madrone Construction
Dennis Murphy - CEO, Hayden Homes
Mathew Robinson - Principal Broker, Robinson-Ludwick Group
George Slape - Retired, Former Owner of Western Title
Eric Taylor - Associate, Brix Law
Claire Duncan is First Story’s Executive Director. She joined First Story in 2010 and has been leading the nonprofit since 2013, prior to which she worked at Coors Brewing Company. Claire’s infectious energy and creative spirit, along with her incredible heart, have catapulted First Story to new heights. During her tenure First Story has helped more families annually than ever before, and has increased outreach and community giving. But Claire isn’t all business, as an avid mountain biker and rock climber she can often be found taking in all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Kisky Holwerda is First Story’s Business Development Manager. No stranger to the nonprofit world, prior to joining First Story Kisky worked at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, and Symphony Space in New York City. When she’s not at First Story, you can catch Kisky on stage in Bend’s community theater productions, or honing her amateur aerial skills.