New SACA director: Dixon Bledsoe leads community aid agency

July 2009 Posted in News, People

By Kristine Thomas

Dixon Bledsoe, who has a masters degree in nonprofit agency management and years of volunteer service in Silverton, has been selected executive director for Silverton Area Community Aid.

Dixon Bledsoe needs to get juice, size 3-5 diapers, baby food in jars and sealable sandwich and quart-size bags.

No, he’s not a new father with worries about meeting the needs of an infant.

Instead, he is seeking those items for Silverton Area Community Aid because he wants to make sure the shelves are full with food and other supplies to meet the needs of its clients.

Bledsoe was recently chosen to be executive director for SACA, a nonprofit agency whose mission is “to make a positive difference in our community by providing food, financial assistance, and information to people in need in a respectful environment.”

He replaces Sally Eliason, who is now working for the Oregon Hunger Task Force in Portland.

SACA board president Andy Bellando said 25 people applied for the executive director’s job, with board members interviewing six applicants.

“The SACA board believes that Dixon’s nonprofit, administrative and social work history gave him a leg up on the other candidates,” Bellando said. “He has creative ideas related to fundraising, SACA awareness and implementation of the SACA Strategic Plan.”

Bellando said Bledsoe also provides “a great ability to network with local businesses, individuals and numerous other non-profit and for-profit agencies.”

A long-time Silverton resident, Bledsoe said his previous jobs have prepared him to be the executive director of SACA. He has was clinic manager for Northwest Human Services, has worked for other agencies and he has a master of business administration degree in private, public and nonprofit agency management.

“Almost my entire career I have been helping people who are less fortunate,” Bledsoe said. “That’s the kind of work I love to do. When people are going through tough times, I like helping them find solutions.”

Bledsoe, 56, moved to Silverton when he was 10 years old. He is president of the Silver Fox Foundation and is on the board of directors for the Silver Falls YMCA. He is a member of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, where he serves as an ambassador. He organized “Two Tons of Tuna,” a food drive for people to donate tuna and peanut butter to SACA several months ago.

“I bring 46 years of knowledge about Silverton to the job and I know a ton of people,” said Bledsoe.

Oregon’s unemployment rate of more than 12 percent has brought an increased number of people to SACA’s doors.

“People don’t come to SACA just for food,” he said. “They also come for gas vouchers and financial assistance. Sometimes people just need a little lift for a short period of time.”

The challenge he faces is to make sure the nonprofit agency has a sustained donor base and meets the increased demand for services due to the current recession, he said.

Working for a variety of profit and nonprofit agencies is what Bledsoe considers his biggest strength.

“I have worked at all different levels and have a good idea of what’s out there to support people,” Bledsoe said, adding when clients come to SACA looking for assistance, he will know what direction to guide them.

He has experience writing grants and working with the media – two skills that will come in handy with his new job. He also has several ideas for fundraisers.

“I am really excited about this job and the possibilities,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”

He expressed thanks for the volunteers and fellow employees Katherine Poma and Dick Palmquist. He’s also grateful for the support he has received from previous SACA directors Jen Basile, Bernadette Mele and Sally Eliason.

“The way I look at the organization is an inverted pyramid,” he said. “I am at the bottom supporting all the people who volunteer and help our clients.”

A real estate agent with Prudential, Bledsoe said time flexibility will allow him to continue helping people find homes in the community. The hours at SACA are 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“I see this job as an opportunity to do what I love – help people,” he said. “That’s the kind of work I love because it means something.”

And he really could use diapers, baby food, juice or any other food donation to help fill the shelves at SACA.

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