We have a saying around here. The “F” in “SLF” stands for “flexible.” Never has that been more true than the past six months. First with Covid-19, and then the wildfires. Flexibility is built into our DNA and our practices. As a consulting ministry, we are free of the encumbering (and worthy) obligations that go with owning buildings and running programs. Even during normal times we are light on our feet and ready to help here, there and everywhere. It’s all part of our “City-as-Neighborhood” strategic plan that is based on geography and multi-faceted collaboratives. Lightning Rods (field staff), Churches as Neighborhood Centers, Community Partnership Teams. We ‘set the table’ so a bevy of program-providing partners can do what they do best … and do it better.
When things started shutting down in March, we put our focus on small nonprofits and neighbor-hood businesses with a message of “give and buy locally as you can.” We helped a number of nonprofits strategize virtual fundraisers; we connected several others with banks so they could secure a PPP (payroll protection program) loan. The generosity of our community is off the charts.
When the schools—one of our biggest fields of service—closed early, we began brainstorming ways to help in this brave new world of distance learning, hybrids, cohorts and flipped classrooms. We reached out to other key partners like Salem YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Young Life, Satellite Gaming, Capitol Futbol Club, Salem Child Development Center, KROC Center and others (please join! Zyanya@salemLF.org). We dubbed the coalition The Salem-Keizer Youth Collaborative (SKYC – see Page 2) and we’re still formulating strategies as the school year lurches into gear. So far, nearly a dozen churches have opened up their buildings for shared programming. Kudos to Zyanya Aguilar-Nelson and Craig Hammond for leading this effort.
More recently, when the devastating wildfires hit the Santiam Canyon, we deployed into action by following the lead of Josh Kay, one of our SLF board members, who was coordinating with Red Cross and United Way for two warehouse locations that became legendary purveyors of evacuee assistance and volunteer outpouring. Hat-tips to Jet Heating, Truitt Brothers (Jordan Truitt) and our own Dwayne Hilty for mobilizing the community at large and the church community in particular. Now we’re helping Church@the Park with its $350,000 capital campaign to buy the JayCees property on Turner Road. But that’s a story for next time. (If you want to help, DJ@salemLF.org). We are grateful to everyone who supports SLF so that we can be Flexible. Thanks,