Collaborators: Silverton Service Integration Team welcomes more participation

May 2021 Posted in Community

By Melissa Wagoner 

Members of the Santiam Service Integration Team staff. Courtesy of Melissa Baurer

Members of the Santiam Service Integration Team staff. Courtesy of Melissa Baurer

What happens when a graduating senior can’t afford a class ring? What about when a mom needs new tires for her car in order to transport her sick child to medical appointments – is there funding for that? And if there is, where does it come from?

These are only two examples of a myriad of unique funding situations that the Silverton Service Integration Team (SIT) has dealt with during its short history as a resource to both the Silverton and Mount Angel communities. But they serve to demonstrate the way that many community needs – shoes for a child who would like to participate in sports, tuition for a literacy class or transportation to a medical appointment – might fall outside of the very specific funding provisions most non-profit organizations are
subject to. 

“We don’t have as many restrictions as most of the other programs,” Silverton SIT Coordinator Kayla Burdine said. 

That is largely because Silverton SIT is not one entity but rather a conglomeration of many community partners – SACA, the Salvation Army and the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, to name
but a few. 

“SIT is a collaboration of knowledge,” Burdine said. “It can range from community members, business owners, churches, city and county health officials, the City of Silverton and DHS – those all have representatives. We all get together and if anyone, like Sheltering Silverton, has a client they are working with and they’ve hit a wall in resources, they can bring it to the team. The benefit is that knowledge sharing base.”

That sharing of knowledge and resources, more often than not, can preclude the need for additional subsidy. 

“Someone brought the funding for that [class] ring to the SIT group…” Burdine said, recalling one of the many situations in which a SIT volunteer was able to provide necessary funds or materials without tapping into the organization’s resources. 

As for the tires required to get the mother’s car back on the road? Those too were volunteer-provided. “A member said, ‘I have a new set of tires in my garage. Let’s see if they fit,’” Burdine recalled. And they did.

But all problems don’t have such simple fixes. Which is why, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a neighboring SIT program – Santiam SIT, which is based in the Santiam Canyon – was compelled to develop an entirely new arm of the group: SIT Mobile.

“SIT mobile serves those with weakened immune systems, the senior population, those quarantined, and households whose income has been impacted by the pandemic,” the description on the website reads. When contacted, mobile volunteers are dispatched to deliver household needs, food and prescription refills to the doorstep of those less-mobile members of the community. 

“In addition, SIT in September expanded services to meet the unexpected needs from the Beachie Creek Fire,” according to the website. Now, due to funding received for additional employees, Santiam SIT also offers transportation, housing support and, in some cases, the replacement of medical equipment. 

“They pulled together and did amazing things for the canyon,” Burdine said of Santiam SIT’s efforts throughout 2020. “The amount of money they raised for that area was impressive.” 

Composed of three teams – Cascade, North Santiam and Santiam Canyon – the Santiam SIT organization is robust, partially owing to funding from Santiam Hospital and the Santiam School District, which has enabled the organization to hire full-time SIT Coordinator Melissa Baurer. 

“She’s done an amazing job,” Burdine said, including often acting as a “sounding board” for Burdine as she spearheaded the creation of Silverton SIT – originally Silverton Task Force – in 2020.

“We had 14 people at our last meeting and in January or February it was 22 or 23,” Burdine said of Silverton SIT’s current reach, which, compared to Santiam SIT at 150 members spread
out over the three teams – still has a
ways to go. 

“I hope someday that we’ll have that many members and that active an input in town,” she said.

Which is why Burdine is hoping more community members will join the team – either by attending a virtual meeting, held the first Wednesday of each month from 10 to 11 a.m. or else by signing up for the mailing list. 

“Team Members… are boots on the ground working alongside families and individuals,” Santiam SIT Coordinator Baurer said, stressing the necessity for a diverse team. “When they hear of a need (rental assistance, PE shoes for a child, electrical assistance, well repair, etc.) the team member collects as much information as possible about the situation and then contacts other team members – who they have relationships with due to the team meetings – to see how best to support the family.”

“We need bodies and knowledge,” Burdine confirmed. “That’s the
biggest thing.”

Santiam SIT is looking for more involvement as well, specifically from volunteers who can provide assistance
to those moving back into the canyon, who have a working knowledge of FEMA, or who can aid those looking
for rental housing.

“Many survivors of the wildfire have housing vouchers but there is a low volume of rentals available in the Santiam area,” Baurer explained. “If landlords would like to learn more about Santiam SIT to see how they may be able to partner with us we would appreciate it. We also are looking for operation funds to help with the staff that we have hired to provide disaster case management and support services.”

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