Humbled – Dumitrescu honored as First Citizen

February 2022 Posted in Community

By Stephen Floyd

When Hilary Dumitrescu learned she was being honored with the First Citizen Award by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, she was in the company of friends and past award winners.

The Silverton resident, community organizer and business owner said they had the wrong person, that others in the group were more deserving than she was. But she was also very grateful to be recognized for her role as a dedicated community leader.

First Citizen Hilary Dumitrescu.

“I’m very humbled by it,” she said.

Dumitrescu moved to Silverton with her husband and two children eight years ago, and found community involvement opportunities almost immediately. Growing up in a military family, she learned not to get too attached to where she lived, but couldn’t help feeling an urge to invest herself in Silverton.

“It was the perfect size, and there were so many people doing really, really good things,” she said. “And it felt like all you needed was a little nudge to make it even better.”

She quickly connected with supporters of the Silverton Farmers Market, and their desire for local farm products throughout the year gave birth to the Silverton Food Co-op. Dumitrescu also became an active parent at Community Roots School when her kids began attending, including efforts to find a community partner for the middle school’s agriculture curriculum.

After she helped the school apply for a grant, word got out and Dumitrescu was approached by Sheltering Silverton. She had not worked in the nonprofit sector before, and an unpaid grant-writing gig turned into two-and-a-half years as executive director (still unpaid) during which time Sheltering Silverton expanded to include full-time staff.

This experience taught her the real struggles of vulnerable Silvertonians, and her volunteer work continued with the Mid Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance, Silverton Affordable Housing Task Force and Silverton Homelessness Task Force. Dumitrescu said this demonstrated how much she took her privilege for granted, and reinforced the value of showing kindness to everyone.

“Always think of everything that comes out of your mouth as having the

possibility to crush somebody or lift them up,” she said.

Despite these many roles in her community, Dumitrescu said she still sees other volunteers as more deserving of recognition than herself. Between those who helped amid local wildfires, last year’s ice storm, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she said Silverton is brimming with heroes.

“There is so much good stuff happening in this town,” she said.

She added those who want to connect with a community group should play to their strengths, as nonprofits have a variety of positions that help them keep going. Even if a person can only spare a few hours per month, she said city committees are often low-impact, meaningful opportunities to serve.

“If I can do it, anybody can,” she said. “I’m just a person.”

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