Mentoring youth: Sue Roessler receives Distinguished Service Award

January 2018 Posted in Other
Sue Roessler, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award (3)

2017 Distinguished Service Award recipient Sue Roessler.

By Melissa Wagoner

Thirty three years ago Sue Roessler wasn’t too sure about moving from her hometown of Salem to tiny Silverton, but her husband Craig, who was principal of Silverton High School at the time, managed to convince her. She has never looked back.

“I remember him saying, ‘We need to live in the community. Principals live in the community,’” Roessler said. “I’m a Salem girl and there were 5,200 people here. Now I love Silverton.”

As wife of an administrator, Roessler said she felt like  Craig was on loan to the community throughout the early days of their marriage. And, with a busy career in Special Education and a young son at home, she herself had no time for volunteer work. But once she retired she decided to change all that.

“My sister Linda was a teacher here in Silverton and she was the director of a number of nonprofits. I lost her six or seven years ago but I feel like she’s always whispering in my ear,” Roessler explained. “I felt like in honor of Linda I will volunteer.”

Her first three years were spent with SACA writing policies and working in the pantry. Then she found the After School Activities Program (ASAP) and with it,
her niche.

“I love kids,” she said. “I want those kids to know there’s somebody back at ASAP that cares.”

ASAP, the brainchild of a group of church leaders in the community, is an after school program for sixth through eighth graders which helps with school work as well as giving the kids a chance to socialize in a safe environment.

“We have retired teachers who come over and work during power hour,” Roessler said. “We connect with the school to find out what subjects they’re low in.”

Roessler has spent the past five years with ASAP as a member of the board helping with fundraising and organization and mentoring its directors, hours of service which recently earned her the 2017 Silverton Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award.

“She has been instrumental in helping the program grow into a program that serves many of our local youth,” nominator Jane Jones, a former Silverton Chamber of Commerce president and 2014 First Citizen said.

The award will act as an end-cap of sorts to Roessler’s time on the ASAP board following, as it does, her
recent resignation.

“I loved it but I’m my own worst enemy in that I can’t say no,” she said. “I just decided after five years that was enough. It’s in good hands.”

That is not the end to Roessler’s volunteer career, however. Eternally civic-minded, she plans to carry on working within the community, but with a wider nonprofit scope, hoping to continue offering support and mentorship to new directors, of which there are many.

“I have a high value around mentoring,” she said. “And there are some wonderful nonprofits in Silverton that are being directed by younger people.”

Roessler also has an interest in finding ways of getting
a more diverse cross-section of the community involved in volunteering.

“We want more of the young people to volunteer,” she said. “The last project on my list is; how do we get young people more involved in volunteering in their community?”

This is a question she has been pondering a lot and one she thinks is worth spending a good deal of her time solving because, just as she was once a newcomer who found her footing through service to the community, she thinks others may as well.

“We want Silverton to represent your interests so you stay in this community,” she said.

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