Leaders Testify to SLF's Value

SLF in the Statesman Journal
Police Toy Drive Partners with CAPES PDF Print E-mail



Community Considers Needs of Refugees PDF Print E-mail

Community considers needs of refugees



Anya and Doug Holcomb have spent most of their adult lives traveling the world to help refugees.

And after years of living abroad, the two have returned to Anya’s home of Salem at a time when their skills could be most utilized.

Since February, about 98 refugees have been resettled in the Salem-Keizer area from countries such as Cuba, Burma, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia.

“If I was in their shoes,” Anya asked herself, “what would I want from my new community?”

“I would want to live a normal life,” she said. “(I’d be thinking) about safety, (getting) a job, housing, school for my kids.”

Using these thoughts as motivation, Anya and Doug came up with the idea of an online, one-stop resource center for Salem refugees and people who want to help.

The Salem For Refugees website, which is still under construction, will provide ways refugees and volunteers can connect with ways to give and get involved.

It will also be a space for refugees to post resumes and search for jobs and housing. Similarly, employers and landlords will be able to post open positions and input from working with the refugees.

The couple presented the idea for the project at one of the “Welcoming Our New Neighbors” meetings held this fall to organize resources and assistance for local refugees.

The meetings, organized by the Salem Leadership Foundation, Salem Alliance Church and Catholic Charities, focus on six key topics — education, English language services, housing, employment, health care and cultural navigation services.

People meet at the Salem Alliance Church to discuss refugee assistance.

“They’re not only refugees,” said Sam Skillern, executive director of the Salem Leadership Foundation, at one gathering. “They’re our new neighbors ... (our) new brothers and sisters.”

Anya and Doug said they want Salem to “be known for helping refugees.”

Doug said there has been a lot of help from schools, churches and other groups to resettle the refugees already.

“We were so impressed with how excited the community is,” he said. “It’s exciting to see the potential of these relationships.”

He said he thinks the more people get to know the refugees, the more they will see “they are just people.” The next “Welcoming Our New Neighbors” meeting will be at noon on Dec. 12 at Salem Alliance Church, 555 Gaines St NE. For more information, contact the Salem Leadership Foundation at 503- 315-8924.

Contact Natalie Pate at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Natalie mpate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com /nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com.

An overflow crowd turns out for Salem Welcomes Refugees on June 18 at the Peace Plaza in Salem.



SLF Helps Salem Sizzle PDF Print E-mail



Sizzle video highlights city’s unique aspects


Last year, Salem-based Allied Video Productions embraced the task of creating a sizzle video for Salem. After almost a year production, the movie trailer-like video, titled “There’s Something About Salem,” captures the highlights and entice the audience in just a few minutes.

A few minutes of video, how hard could that be?

Even for a professional company, the project was a commitment and took the involvement and participation of Allied’s entire team.

The 10 months of production included 300 hours of on-location shooting, which translates to about 40 hours of footage. Four hours of that is referred to as selects, or the best shots, and once narrowed down, that makes three minutes of video for the final product.


First released at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism on April 26 to announce Salem as the 2017 conference destination, the video is now available online.


“The response has been incredibly positive,” Allied Video Productions co-owner and senior producer Scott Hossner said. “The positive vibes we (Allied Video Productions) get are a bonus.”

Community Connect Brings People and Resources Together PDF Print E-mail

Medical checkups, dental cleanings, haircuts, bicycle repairs, hot meals and other services were all offered for free on Tuesday in Salem.

Hundreds of homeless and nearly homeless people filled the Salem First Baptist Church on Tuesday for the ninth annual Salem-Keizer Homeless Community Connect event.

The one-day resource fair matches more than 50 service and resource providers with the most underserved people in Salem and Keizer.

"For people who need resources, like housing or food stamps, it can take months to go around and get all the things they need," Amy Schroeder, an event organizer with Community Action Agency, said. "The transportation alone can be really difficult."

Vickie Adams, 41, of Salem, is fitted for bottom dentures

Vickie Adams, 41, of Salem, is fitted for bottom dentures by retired dentist Chuck Zemanek at the ninth annual Salem-Keizer Community Connect providing resources and services to homeless and nearly homeless people at the Salem First Baptist Church in downtown Salem on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 (Photo: ANNA REED / Statesman Journal)

Churches, SLF provide 'Room in the Inn' PDF Print E-mail

635866625583729824-IMG-2985-copy.jpgFor three days this week, Toni Collins had a roof over her head. Collins, 49, is homeless and normally sleeps in West Salem. She had shelter this week because of Room at the Inn, an annual program, now in its fifth year, sponsored by eight area churches. The churches and more than 50 donors pay to rent Aldersgate Camp in Turner for three days of caring for Salem's homeless.

While at Room at the Inn, local homeless people are given a clean, safe place to sleep, plentiful hot meals, clothes and other necessities, such as hygiene items.

"It was beautiful," Collins said as she was waiting Friday for a van to take her back to Salem. For Collins, leaving meant heading back to the street.

After contracting HIV and hepatitis C, she could no longer work. Collins found herself on the street, and in and out of jail. Now homeless for more than two years, she was hit with another setback — she recently lost her dog, Stormy, a salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer she calls her service animal.

"It's my Christmas wish to find my dog," she said.

But while at Room at the Inn, Collins could relax, if only temporarily.

"It's a vacation away from a drunk," she said of her partner, who has problems with alcohol abuse.

Collins said that being at Room at the Inn makes her feel noticed — it helps her retain her dignity.

"We're invisible to the naked eye," she said of the homeless. "People look down on us. We're people too. Where are we supposed to go?"

John, 60, said Room at the Inn gave him a chance at finding camaraderie with the 110 other attendees, and, more importantly, warmth. John didn't want to give his last name because of the embarrassment of being homeless, he said.

SLF Partner Goes to the Dogs PDF Print E-mail



Facility provides kennels for pets of homeless

Carol McAlice Currie | Statesman Journal

A tiny black and white Chihuahua, shivering in the cool morning air and possibly from fear, will be the first dog to spend the night in a new PetSmart Promise facility that opened in West Salem on Tuesday. Chloe, 6, held by her owner Betty Hargens, seemed unaware that her life was about to change for the better. Hargens, who’s been homeless since her late husband’s medical and nursing home bills took a toll on her finances, has been wrapping Chloe in a jacket and blanket and leaving her on a pillow in her car for the night while she and her grandson have slept at various area churches that are part of the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network.

The network runs the West Salem day center, which has given Hargens and her great grandson Hunter Best, 3, a place to work daily with a case manager to try to find resources for getting the small family out of it's car and into permanent housing. But until now Hargens had to be separated from her beloved dog at night because none of the churches that rotate taking in homeless families at night accept animals.

On Tuesday the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network opened the new facility, which was made possible through a partnership between PetSmart and Family Promise. It is the first facility in the state to allow families and their pets to remain together when they become homeless.


“I’ve had Chloe since she was three. I adopted her out of a veterinarian’s office I worked in, and she is so dear to me,” Hargens said. “She means everything to me and my great grandson. I’m so happy this new facility has opened and I’ll have someplace warm to keep her and visit her.”


SLF Staff and Partners Honored by City PDF Print E-mail

Spotlight shines on Salem Volunteers
Capi Lynn | Statesman Journal

The city of Salem relies heavily on the time, talents and energy of volunteers, with more than 6,537 volunteers contributing more than 185,766 hours of service this past year.

Some of the most generous individuals and groups were honored Monday, Sept. 21, during the 2015 Volunteer Recognition Celebration at Salem Public Library.

TJ Sullivan received the Willard C. Marshall Special Citizen Award, given to the volunteer who has contributed the most to the city during a given year. Sullivan, a past member of Salem city council, is currently active in the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties and Salem Alliance Church. He also serves on the board of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and Travel Salem, and this past year led the Blue Ribbon Task Force on a new police facility.



Henry Fuqua received the city's other top volunteer award, the Vern Miller Key Citizen Award, given to an individual for outstanding long-term service. Fuqua has been a faithful public servant for many organizations, including the Salem Police Department for more than 30 years.




Salem Mayor Anna Peterson and city councilors presented the awards, which celebrate the efforts of volunteers to help improve and              promote Salem.

Church Worships Through Neighborhood Outreach PDF Print E-mail

Church trades Sunday service for community service
Tracy Loew
Statesman Journal

Thomas Zepeda, 6, and his brother Urijaa, 3, clutched brand-new bike helmets as they stood in line for free school supplies.  Meanwhile, a team of experts worked on repairs to two of the family’s bikes. “We couldn’t afford to fix them,” their mom, Kishwa Zepeda, said, sporting a free manicure she’d gotten with daughter Meyaa, 7. The family was among hundreds attending the seventh annual ServeFest Sunday at the Keizer Civic Center. The event is hosted by Lakepoint Community Church.  Once a year, the church forgoes its regular Sunday service in favor of a day of community service.

People began lining up three hours early for this year’s event, which also featured haircuts for children, vaccinations, blood pressure checks, family photos, a raffle and a carnival with games and face painting, all free of charge.

Raymond and Julie Dyer brought their three daughters for the school clothes, but found the line too long. So the family enjoyed the lunch and live music, and planned to spend the day with the other activities.
“I’m excited for the carnival,” Karisa Dyer, 9, said.

Last year, the church served about 3,200 people at the event, and this year looked like it would break that record, Lakepoint spokeswoman Rachel Taylor said.  About 125 church members and 75 community volunteers work to put on the day of service. Church member Shar Wieglenda, of Salem, has volunteered at the event since it began. “It’s so rewarding,” she said. “We get to touch lives we may not see on a regular basis. But, she said, “Sometimes it’s overwhelming. The need – every year it gets more and more.”

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

(503) 399-6779 or follow
at Twitter.com/Tracy_Loew

Salem Free Clinics-John McConville PDF Print E-mail


Director says Salem Free Clinics plans to expand high-need services

John McConville was appointed the new executive director of Salem Free Clinics in June after serving as its interim leader since January. McConville began volunteering at the clinic in 2013 after retiring from the grocery business. He quickly took on leadership roles within the organization.

During the past few months, several nonprofits have gained new leaders. In a series of questions and answers that will run every other week, we ask these leaders about their vision for their organizations and the community. Here are McConville’s answers.

By Kaellen Hessel | Statesman Journal

What role does Salem Free Clinics play in our community’s health system?

“Salem Free Clinics serve as a safety net in the community’s health care system. Imagine facing a health crisis or illness without health insurance. It is frightening. We get to help uninsured patients without other viable medical care options. With over 5,000 patient visits per year, our clinics play a vital role in our community.”

What can the community expect to see you do during the next year?

“In the next year, Salem Free Clinics will expand services that are in highest demand. We are recruiting and training a larger interpreter services team. We are adding a care-management piece to our popular diabetes specialty services. We are collaborating with our partner, Corban University, to make our counseling program as accessible as possible. We are actively working to increase our dental-services capacity and hope to add a dental-hygiene component to our care.”

What is your vision for Salem Free Clinics’ future?

“Salem Free Clinics began 10 years ago with a doctor, a nurse and a few volunteers who had a heart to help those in need. Today, our almost 400 volunteers embody that same passion to sacrifice their time and energy to provide health care to those who otherwise have no viable health care options. As we look to the future, Salem Free Clinics intends to continue meeting those needs in an ever-changing health care environment. We are continually evaluating how the clinic can best meet our patients’ needs in the ever-changing health care area.”

What are the biggest problems facing the Mid-Valley?

“Providing access to health care for the uninsured remains a huge issue. While the Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured, Oregon Health Authority officials estimate there are still 32,000 people in Marion and Polk counties without health insurance as of December 2014. Salem Free Clinics allows the uninsured access to needed health care. Three of the biggest health problems in the community are mental health, diabetes management and dental care.”

IKE Box, SLF Partner with CAREcorps PDF Print E-mail

CARECorps creates culture of service in high schoolers

Leaders in community want youth to be ready to give back

By Kaellen Hessel


Statesman Journal

You don’t have to wait until you’ve grown up to help your community. That’s the message CARECorps leaders want high school students to learn through a three-week service-learning camp that finishes Thursday.

“The city (of Salem) believes they’re actually capable of a lot more than society thinks they can (do),” said Laurie Shaw, the city’s youth development coordinator. “It’s pretty impressive to see what teens can accomplish with the right kind of adult partners.”

Through CARECorps — which is a partnership between the city, Salem-Keizer School District, Isaac’s Room and Salem-Keizer Education Foundation — about 60 incoming freshmen and sophomores worked on five projects at Marion-Polk Food Share.

They built a shed that will allow community gardeners to have easier access to seeds and tools; transformed the edible landscape garden into one that’s more accessible; prepared materials for future food drives; and worked on beautifying and installing educational signs at the youth farm and Hammond Elementary School’s garden.

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