30 years of service – Silverton Together to dissolve this summer

February 2022 Posted in Uncategorized

By Melissa Wagoner

On July 1, 2022 Silverton Together, a beloved community institution whose mission was to strengthen and support families, facilitate community cooperation and promote health and well-being since 1993, will cease to exist.

“This decision to dissolve was made after considerable board discussions over the last couple years as we responded to the federal, state and county foundation grant funds drying up,” board president and Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer wrote in a press release. “COVID-19 challenges greatly accelerated our concern regarding our sustainability as an organization. Community donations and support have allowed us to maintain core services but we recognize that it isn’t viable long term. Together we agreed that the best way to honor our organization’s history and value in our community was to take action now and use the remainder of our resources to transition our programs so that they can live on in the community under new direction.”

Silverton Together’s longtime Program Coordinator Jan Holowati.

That history, which goes back nearly 30 years, began when an initiative, coined Oregon Together, created 36 community leadership groups across the state. Uniting representatives from city government, school districts, law enforcement and the faith community, these cohesive networks of volunteers – Silverton Together included – quickly became a beloved community resource.

“Silverton Together’s first projects are still part of Silverton’s family activities,” Marilyn Dedrick, a member of the board from the start, said. She listed the Silverton Community Picnic, the Holiday Festival and Free Fish Day at the Silverton Reservoir as three of the group’s seed events. Over the years, programs have grown to include an additional six annual programs as well as a Community Event Calendar and Resource Guide that is released every two months to 2,500 people and the Parent Education Program – a series of classes for parents with children in nearly every stage of development.

“We started with meeting parents at the hospital,” Steve Kuhn, a board member since 1994, said of the parenting series’ start. “Our first class was for parents with newborns. And we were very proud that, not only did we provide parenting support, but they became their own community.”

And as the children within that community grew, so too did Silverton Together’s parenting program, eventually including t10 courses ranging in topic from becoming a first-time father, to parenting a two-year-old, to raising grandchildren. Then COVID hit and all of those classes were put on hold.

And while the pause isn’t a permanent one – Program Coordinator Jan Holowati estimates the classes may restart as early as March 1 – when they do it will be under new management, that of Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA) – the nonprofit that provides not only food and financial assistance to those in need but also support and resources, including classes.

But SACA cannot take on all of Silverton Together’s annual programs and so for the next five months it will be Holowati’s task to re-home each one.

“I hope that we can transition as many programs and other events as possible so the community maintains these things as a part of who we are,” Kuhn said of the importance of this mission. “What makes a community is events, relationships, its support of kids. It introduces new people to their community. And when people need help, it provides community support to get them through.”

Which is how Silverton Together – one of only two remaining Oregon Together organizations left – has made it for as long as it has.

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