We believe that Salem/Keizer will be the
healthiest community in Oregon - truly the

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Faith-in-Action News

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Free soccer camp gives kids skills on and off the field

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Church blooms at Battle Creek school

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Hub Gives Skills, Wheels

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CaN Center "Dreams" Big in West Salem

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Salem ranks 7th in country for volunteerism

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Churches share hearts and buildings with homeless families

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Free Clinic at Salem Alliance Church is "CaN" do

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CaN Center church has vibrant "Wood Ministry"

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Why I Like IKE: a Tribute to Isaac's Room ministry

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Four Corners Church Throws Block Party

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Fancy Dessert Tells Stories, Inspires Community
SLF Honored by School Board and Grant School

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Hundreds of homeless find help and hope at Homeless Connect
SLF News Archive

SOMA / Dinner on the Green

Holy Cross / La Casita

Capital Park / SENCC


Our Father's Porch

Church In The Park

Herm's Hike

July 2014

“Herm’s Hike” came about from an invitation from Herm’s son Andrew to hike the 200+ mile John Muir Trail.  They’re planning two weeks, August 31 – September 14, averaging 15 miles per day with 30 to 40 pound packs.  The trail goes through Ansel Adams Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park ending with a climb up Mt. Whitney (tallest peak in the 48 states at 14,505 ft).  As Herm planned the hike he thought, ‘why not also do the hike as a fundraiser for SLF?’

Herm states, “Hiking has always been a joy of mine, because it allows me an opportunity to spend time with my sons and friends, get some good exercise, experience new places and see some awesome scenery in the process.  By adding SLF, it’s just like putting icing on the cake.  I love SLF and the awesome opportunities it has given me and would love raising funds so SLF can expand our outreach into the community.”

The exciting thing about Salem Leadership Foundation is the way the ministry leverages every donated dollar into ten dollars.  A 10-to-1 return on investment!  So, if we are able to raise $40,000 through this hike it will result in $400,000 of services to our community.

Here are some ways you can help Herm raise $40,000 for SLF:
•    Be a “Trail Angel” by making a commitment of raising $500, $1,000, $2,000 or more.
•    Donate $2.00 per mile = $400
•    Donate $1.00 per mile = $200
•    Donate $.50 per mile = $100
•    Donate $.25 per mile = $50
•    Donate  $ _____ per mile or a one-time gift of any amount

To register as a "Trail Angel" click HERE!
To make a pledge or donation to Herm’s Hike click HERE!

People and Place

July 2014

Ever since the stately 1876 Capitol Building burned in 1935, Salem has had a disease.  It's called "Teardownitis."  The collapse of that beautiful copper dome into the raging flames on April 25 seared the civic soul of Salem.  So much so that, in the ensuing decades, any building that "might burn" or "might need seismic upgrades" has crumbled beneath the wrecking ball.

R.I.P. … The Marion County Courthouse, 1952 (you can still visit Lady Justice, the bronze statue, in the lobby of Willamette's Law School building).  Salem City Hall, 1972 (you can still tell time by the tower clock which was relocated to downtown Mt. Angel).  Churches.  Banks.  Theaters.  Schools. Perhaps worst of all, the 24-square block ‘Victorian mansion district’ that became the Capitol Mall
for state offices.  We are fortunate to have Bush House and Deepwood Estate as properly-preserved museums, but we should have whole districts full of such houses. 

“But Sam,” you might say, “SLF's ministry is about transforming people, not buildings.”  Quite true. People are more important than buildings.  Eternal souls much more important than bricks and mortar. Totally agree.  However, people and place are not mutually exclusive.  Especially when 'our place' is Shalom, Oregon, the city of peace and the capital city of Oregon.  What a history of people and place! The Chemawa and Chemeketa tribes of the Kalapuya nation.  Jason Lee and his band of Methodist missionaries.  Father Francis Blanchet and his mission priests in French Prairie.  The covered wagons and Oregon Trail pioneers.  Salem is steeped in history … the history of people, ministry and place.

As the Dust Settles

June 2014

‘NEIGHBORHOOD’ GROWS AT FANCY DESSERT! They packed-out the Salem Convention Center last Friday, May 30, to enjoy the 2014 edition of the SLF Fancy Dessert.  More than 750 folks cozied together to hear how SLF and its partners are “Growing Neighborhood”  across Salem-Keizer.  We had fun with our “down-to-the-farm” theme in both décor and message.  Over the course of the evening we were able to demonstrate the power of SLF’s “Leverage Value” through Lightning Rods (our field staff) and CaN Centers (Churches serving as Neighborhood Centers.)   One dollar turns into thousands through SLF leverage.

As always, the highlight of the evening was the ‘Neighbor Stories’ that we captured and conveyed on film. 
This year we went back in time to catch up with five stories featured at previous events.  It was amazing to see God’s expanding grace and impact on individuals, then families, then neighbors, then community.

Fancy Dessert, May 30, 2014


Check out the photos HERE!



La Casita at Holy Cross Lutheran, Another "CaN" do Church

The Little House (or "La Casita") is owned by the Holy Cross Lutheran CaN Center Church and is operated by community partners.  It opened a year ago as a resource center to families within the Washington Elementary Fostering Hope target neighborhood.  Tuesday March 6th was a Open House for the new Library with a emphasis on early literacy and school readiness.

The community partners for the library are:  Mano a Mano, Reading for All, Delta Kappa Gamma, City of Salem Lansing Partnership, Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Salem Leadership Foundation.  A special thanks to the Union Gospel Mission for the donated book shelves and furniture, all of the volunteers who categorized, labeled and organized the 1800 books and all the amazing "bakers" who provided the refreshments.

We had 22 children sign up at the Open House for their Little House Library Card.  Stay tuned for our summer literacy program in partnership with our friends at the Salem Library.  Another exciting project at the Little House is currently underway with the East Salem Rotary,  they are designing and building a "a children's garden" in the backyard.

We are currently looking for volunteers to help with our "children's garden" this summer and staff our library for our summer literacy program.  Anyone interested in becoming a Friend of the Little House contact Carrie Maheu - McKay Area Lightning Rod @ 503-559-5677 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

May 2014

A man named Jess Jones called.  He was the baseball coach at Whiteaker Jr. High in Keizer.  My coach at Leslie, Mike Cooley, had recommended me. “Skillern, do you want to try out for Babe Ruth?”

In 1972, Babe Ruth Baseball was the new league in Salem, and I had missed the tryouts.  I had also missed being chosen for South Salem Pharmacy, the legendary C-League team that every Leslie baseballer yearned to play for.  I was assigned to the Pharmacy’s minor league affiliate and was still licking my wounds when Mr. Jones called. 

“I hear you’re pretty good for a 7th-grader.  Is there a field nearby where I could see you take a few swings and field some grounders?”  We headed up to Fairmount Park.  My friend Brad Hinds joined us.  Mr. Jones ran us through the paces but it was hard to tell if he liked what he saw.  “Skillern,” he said as he dropped me off at home, “Babe Ruth is serious baseball and this would be a big step for you. Not to mention that 13-year-olds don’t play much in Babe Ruth.  But if you join Capitol Toyota I’ll make sure you play at least one inning per game.” 

What's in an Acronym

April 2014

As if SLF doesn’t have enough acronyms … do you know what a CPT is?

Community Partnership Teams (CPTs) have been around Marion County for 20 years.  Outside of Salem they are called ‘Community Progress Teams’ and there are some really good ones:  Silverton Together, Friends of the Family (Stayton), Keizer United, et al.  Each CPT convenes stakeholders in a high-school feeder area to forge projects and partnerships that help build stronger kids, families and neighborhoods.  After-school programs, parenting classes, community gardens, homeless outreach, English classes, inter-cultural activities … the list is huge.  CPTs partner vigorously with schools, churches/CaN Centers, neighborhood associations, businesses, and non-profits like Marion-Polk Food Share, Boys and Girls Club, Mid-Valley Literacy Center, Catholic Community Services, Mano a Mano, IKE Box, Family Building Blocks, SKEF, MERIT and NEDCO (oops, more acronyms, sorry).


Meeting a Need

March 2014

I love reading with Uziel and Alex on Thursdays.  I help them with their reading skills and they help me with my Spanish.  A nice exchange of literacy and friendship; a nice connection between cultures and generations.  Here’s a tip of the (Cat-in-the) hat to all Reading Buddies at Highland School!

But reading isn’t the only thing we do.  Sometimes we are ‘referral nurses’ for a variety of health-care concerns.  That’s not the main reason we’re there—reading is.  But when you’re up-close and personal with someone for 30 minutes you notice things.  Like the child who squints and puts the book real close to their face.  (Needs glasses.) Or the child whose tummy rumbles frequently.  (Needs food.) Or the child with bad breath.  Not the kind that comes from a spicy lunch … the kind that comes from a decaying tooth.  (Needs a dentist). Again, Job #1 is reading, but when we notice warning signs we are trained to discreetly make connections with teachers and the school for remedies. The Boys and Girls Club has a first-rate dental clinic, for example, and there are volunteer dentists who open their hearts (and chairs) to neighborhood kids with dental needs.  We salute you!

SLF RainFest Golf Challenge

Monday, February 24

See Photos on our Facebook page!

The third-annual RainFest Golf Challenge will benefit Salem Leadership Foundation (SLF) and our mission to help Salem-Keizer become the healthiest community in Oregon: truly the City of Shalom.

This may sound crazy, and you may think we’re nuts, but WE NEED YOU to play 18 holes of golf  with us on Monday, February 24, and raise some serious bucks for SLF during the time of year we need it most.  It may rain, the wind may howl … bring it on – FORE!

With hardy participation from 40 volunteers, we can raise $72,000 or more in the next several weeks to support SLF as we work with churches to help kids, families, schools and neighborhoods.  We need 40 passionate champions willing to help support SLF and our ‘City-as-Neighborhood’ strategy.  More than 10,000 kids, families and adults were impacted last year.

We are inviting you to participate in RainFest.  We promise this will not take a lot of your time.  We need volunteers who will commit to follow the steps of this proven program, which will raise significant dollars for SLF and its neighborhood partners.  You can even win some great prizes like dinners-for -two, free golf, weekend getaways, and cool golf stuff.

Here is what each “RainFest Challenge Champion” commits to:
1. Show up on February 24th at 9:30 a.m. (breakfast and BBQ included) to play 18 holes at historic Salem Golf Club.  No matter what the weather, we’ll keep you warm, well-fed, and moving around the course.
2. Sponsor yourself for at least $100 (can be more), and …
3. Give your best effort to make 25-40 contacts and strive for $2,500 in pledges. This is easier than you think, as people will be more than happy to support you in your valiant “wind-and-rain” endurance to support SLF.

You can be also be a “RainFest Challenge Team Captain.” We need Team Captains to achieve actions 1-2-3 above and put together a Foursome of Champions (including yourself).

We've created a website for RainFest and it’s the key to our success.  It’s the easy-to-use place where you enter your sponsors’ pledge information.  The goal is to get pledges from folks you know: friends, family, colleagues, associates.  Our web site will send them a thank-you note, a tax-deductible letter, and details on how/where they can send their sponsorship amounts.  Easy as a tap-in putt.

People give to People … all you have to do is ASK and we can significantly help SLF and the incredible partnerships it creates for after-school programs, mentoring, neighborhood revitalization, homeless outreach, foster-family support, neighborhood centers … and hope.

To get more information contact Ryan Collier our Player Captain at:
503-485-7224 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sam "Snead" Skillern, 503-884-8194

To sign up to be a Team Captain or Participant Champion (making three commitments above) click here


To Pay a RainFest Pledge/Sponsorship click here


RainFest Sponsors - THANKS!




Winter 2014

It was the Fall of 1996, my first weeks on the job with SLF … our board asked me to make two visits.  One to north-central Salem to see how a big church—Salem Alliance—was forging a partnership with Grant Community School.  The other to south-central to see what a little church—Capital Park Wesleyan—was doing with their facility in Salem’s roughest neighborhood.  Little did I know how powerfully these fledgling initiatives would dictate SLF’s path and how much they would change Salem/Keizer, Oregon.  A church adopting a nearby school; a church opening its building to the neighboring kids and families.  Quietly revolutionary.

At Grant, Jennifer and I joined hoards of volunteers from Salem Alliance and other churches to staff the ‘Fantastic Fridays’ after-school program, which has grown into a district-wide network of partners and programs.  Today there are several dozen church-school partnerships and a strong foundation of trust and relationship between the faith community and Oregon’s second-largest school district.  For a personal tour, join me Thursdays (Reading Buddies, Highland) or Fridays (Chess Club, Grant).

Rewind back to 1996/97.  I had joined a group of ministry leaders who prayed weekly at Capital Park Wesleyan.  We met in a room that looked out over a gravel parking lot.  Pastor Jerry Sloan used to point out the window and say, “Soon, and very soon that parking lot will be a gym, a full-service kitchen, a library and game room.”  I prayed fervently for that dream to become reality … believing that it would happen in five or 10 years.  Oh me of little faith! Within a year the $450,000 building was open and active.  How could such a little church have such a big vision, such a big faith?  We invited people to come see, from mayors and county councilors to business leaders and clergy. 

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